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| Dreamfall: The Longest Journey Review (1 comments )|
by: petewilliams (5) | Posted in cluster FiringSquad Editors Challenge Round 1 Prelim 1
Posted 76 months ago ( edited 76 months ago ) in category DEFAULT
Dreamfall: The Longest Journey
Action and/or adventure
Iíve always enjoyed a good adventure game. From the slightly saucy days of Leisure Suit Larry to the point and click exploitís of Sam and Max and the Day of the Tentacle crew. Iíve been dreadfully frustrated finding the key word to open my starship in Space Quest, explored one hundred side by side screens in Hero Quest, and fought pirates with insults in The Curse of Monkey Island series. Yes, Iíve been everywhere manÖ
Adventure games have always presented a certain challenge to the player. In earlier games it was just finding the right way to write Ďpick up small donkeyí. Soon technology allowed for the point and click, so exploration and inventory item usage came to the fore. Now, as we yearn for worlds depicted lovingly in 3D, adventure games have a new challenge. How to keep the player engaged the same way first person shooters, RTS, and action games do? Do they need to? Can they at all?
As I meandered my way through Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, I began to ask myself these questions. This is Fun Comís sequel to their brilliant, yet overlooked, The Longest Journey. A game, I will admit right now, Iíve never played. I hoped that I could still enjoy Dreamfall:TLJ, even without prior experience with the series and surely, to a degree, I did. There are references through out the game to the earlier story, and Iím sure they mean more if youíve been there done that. But these references donít detract from Dreamfall, in fact they mostly make you want to go back and play the older game. No, you definatly donít need to have played The Longest Journey to still appreciate Dreamfall, but what you will need, is patience.
All good adventure games rely on their story. Thatís everything in my opinion. If you donít have fast paced action, or deep strategy, you definitely need story. This Dreamfall:TLJ delivers in abundance. The game takes place in the future, on an earth that has seen many changes. You play Zoe Castillo, a young girl whoís lost her motivation and her zest for life. She lives with her father in Casablanca, watching soapies, and eating chips in her underwear. That is, until sheís thrown into a chase across countries and dimensions to find her ex-boyfriend Rezza. The former hero of the series, April Ryan, is thrown into the mix plus a creepy girl who appears mysteriously on tv screens. But thatís all I can say. It may seem an exceedingly modest account of Dreamfallís storyline, but trust me; you donít want it ruined for you before you play the game. The characters and story are wonderful. Combined with beautiful visuals, high-quality voice acting and superb atmospheric music, it draws the player into the fantastic futuristic world of Dreamfall.
But you must have patience. A steady stream of patience. The sort that isnít bucked by lack of action or dissuaded by little actual involvement in the game. Dreamfall:TLJ could have been a movie. To a certain degree it is, or is at least an interactive story where you take control of the character in third person. It looks a little like an action game, but in reality, the player does very little. You get a simple mini game here, a short fight there, and a lot of running in between. The combat system, which is used sparingly through the game, is meager and unsatisfying. A button for quick attacks that can be blocked, one for slower heavy attacks that canít be blocked, and one to do the blocking is all there is to it. Even then, after the first training fight where you will be beaten many times getting the hang of the system, your opponents through the rest of the game behave unthinkingly. Some will just block till you beat them down, others will swing wildly in an attempt to rush you. Itís disappointing and as itís the only action the game presents, does become an obstacle to enjoyment.
Dreamfall is also mostly easyÖvery easy. The puzzles are straight forward and the mini games are, on most accounts, simplistic. As I wandered through Dreamfall:TLJ thinking to myself ĎIíll have this games beaten in hoursí, I was shocked into humility when a rather difficult patch appeared. Sneaking is another ability our heroesí have at their disposal, and although exceedingly slow, itís useful for getting past guards. At this point in time the guards are scientists, and I need to get down a few stairways nearby. It was infuriating, challenging, and ultimately satisfying to complete. But honestly, this was one of maybe two or three times those emotions were produced. The rest of Dreamfall is railroaded to the point where puzzles are just running back and forward between characters in the game with only maybe two inventory items. Yes the vistas are grand, and the cities magnificent, but the feeling of being in a wide world is absent. There are doors, but only the ones integral to the story can be opened. There are other people inhabiting the world, but only the important ones have much to say. It just isnít immersive enough.
The graphics, however, somewhat save the gameís faceÖliterally. As you wander from cinematic to cinematic you can sit back with your cup of coffee and really enjoy looking at Dreamfall:TLJ. The world looks incredible and the characters rather good. Lip syncing with the excellent voice acting is adequate, and the faces of said characters are emotive and interesting. This is all very fortunate, as youíll find the game is mostly cut scenes. Run to notable character X and watch the cut scene. Run back to significant character Y and watch another cut scene. I spent quite a lot of time with the controller out of my hands, leaning back in my chair like I was watching a movie.
Is this what we want as gamers? A game that spoils us with storyline, but takes away our influence over it? Dreamfall:TLJ has no replay value. Sometimes you can choose what sort of answer to give an individual, but really itíll still take you to the same place. Theyíll still sell you what you need, take you where you want or let you onto their amazing invisible schooner youíve heard so much about. You donít have any power in the game and that hurts its chances to be played more than once. In fact, that hurts the game the first time through. I want to feel like I can fail. I want to feel like Iím challenged. If I donít get this, then I also donít get to wear the ďno game can stop this bad boyĒ grin and thatís all we ever wantÖisnít it?
Overall, Dreamfall:TLJ does what it sets out to do. It tells a remarkable story and does it with beauty and grace other games dream about. But it is also disempowering for the player to not have choice and to not feel challenged by the game play. Dreamfall:TLJ is good but not great, interesting but not exciting, artful but not truly interactive. It would make a great movie, but does not make a brilliant game.
|2 User Comment(s) • 2 root comment(s)|
| petewilliams (5) Feb 10, 2007 - 05:45 pm|
|Hey, thanks for reading the review people. I should mention it's from another gaming site i work for. Obviously some have thought it a little less than up to scratch, so was hoping they might leave a few comments about what they liked or disliked. I'm always interested in constructive crits. Cheers. :)|
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| Wisd85 (15) Feb 07, 2007 - 07:21 am|
|yea, i agree that dreamfall is a great game. Too bad it is to short and in a matter of days, there is nothing left to play.|
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