Dreamfall: Chapters

I was going to discuss the new GPS Tracker I bought for my dog, but I seem to have a faulty unit, so I guess that’ll have to wait.  Instead, I’ll talk about a game I’ve been playing.

Dreamfall: Chapters (DC) is the (finally in production) sequel to Dreamfall: The Longest Journey (DTLJ) – which was itself a sequel to The Longest Journey (TLJ)).  If nothing else, I give Red Thread Games (RTG) points for a unique way of naming sequels!

DC does it slightly differently to the original two.  Both were ‘self contained’ stories (if you ignore the horrible, unresolved ending of DTLJ), whereas DC is an episodically released game.  I’ve just finished the first ‘story’ and am now onto the second.

Because of that long delay between DTLJ and DC, RTG have included short ‘last time, when we left our heroes’ section, to allow you to catch up. Though, I’d still suggest anyone wanting to play DC go back to the original TLJ, even if it is very ‘Old School’ now.

Two prologue chapters then reintroduce us to our two main protagonists and some of their support staff on both sides of the good/bad ledger.  Of course, this also serves as a way to reintroduce the world and the issues that led us to this point.

It’s also here that we learn about the new interface. DC keeps the same third person perspective from DTLJ, but the controls (keyboard and mouse in my case) feel a bit smoother and not as hard to adjust to.  Of course, given how long ago TDLJ was done, you’d expect an interface improvement!

One other change from DTLJ is they’ve removed the fighting component that marred that game.   They get a gold star just for that particular decision!

They get another gold star for the way they handle dialogue.  There are so many approaches I’ve seen over the time, and it’s clearly a very difficult thing to get right.

Alpha Protocol (AP) lets you choose the disposition that you want to answer with (Professional?  Sarcastic? Casual?), but you have no idea what your character will actually say.  Mass Effect (ME) gave you some general flavour text, but I was often surprised (and annoyed) by what came out of Shepherd’s mouth.

DC tries another way, and so far, this is my favourite.  What it lacks in speed and punchiness, it gains in giving you a good idea of what and how your character will react.

They begin in a standard way by putting up a few options – these are usually single words, or very short phrases that indicate your choices.  However, the good part is that when you hover over each one, you get an internal monologue from your character about how they interpret each one.  While you still don’t know exactly what they say, you know their thoughts and direction.  I’ve yet to be unpleasantly surprised – and it’s also nice to get more information on their inner thoughts.

Speaking of the dialogues, this also leads to RTG’s claim that (once again) we have a game where Choices Have Consequences.  This is either made obvious by a prominent bit of text stating “{Character you’re talking to} will remember”, or a rotating symbol with “The Balance has Shifted.”  The theory being that some decisions affect only a character, while others might change the fate of the world.

How those things happen I’ve yet to find out.  I’ve found a couple of changes due to earlier decisions (Zoe changes careers, for example), but I think I’ll need to play a few times through to see if the changes are that big, and how they’ve handled them.

Atmosphere is important in a game like this, and so many things contribute to that.  The visuals (despite a few 3D glitches occasionally) are beautiful – even on my struggling laptop, and each set evokes the particular world beautifully.  To my mind, if I feel like I’d want to be dropped into some scenery, just to find out what’s over the next hill, or around the next corner, then it’s done it’s job.  The job is definitely done – whether we’re talking the city of the future, or the fantasy realm.

The sound-scape, from people talking, to incidental sounds that have nothing to do with the story itself, is also important.  From the way that various characters speak, to the background noises of the city streets, the sound-scape is immersive and adds to the ‘want to be there’ feeling.

The sub stories, and the overarching story, fit into the world, and add to that atmosphere. There’s no tonal shift between the two, which again means you can immerse yourself in the world.

All of this is very nice, but: is it fun?

I find it so.  There are a few reasons for this. The first is simply that I love the world(s) on which this is set.  The fact that I can revisit the world(s) means they already have a lot of brownie points with me.  The fact I can meet some of the same characters (But not all; thankfully this didn’t turn into a ‘best of’ parade) adds a few more points.

As someone who was annoyed by the cliffhanger non-ending of DTLJ, I’m also hoping for some closure on that story.  That’s still a future promise, though, and doesn’t really count as brownie points – more as motivation for me to play.

This is also a ‘point and click’ type game that isn’t too caught up in its own clever puzzles.  Most of the puzzles feel like they flow naturally from the story, and therefor support the story, and atmosphere, rather than detracting from it.

That’s not to say that they’re all easy, or even obvious.  I have to admit that the very first real puzzle confused the hell out of me and in the end it seemed that I required a combination of the right camera angle, good timing, and knowing that I had to perform the same action twice before I could solve the puzzle.  That seemed an anomaly, as any puzzles since then, have often been difficult, but not completely obscure.  At least to my mind.

So, we have a promise of a series of games that will expand the world(s) of Dreamfall, that will not only bring their own story into that world, but hopefully tidy up the story begun in DTLJ.  All in all, I’m happy with how it’s turning out so far.







About Lisa

A Geeky Gamergrrl who obsesses about the strangest things.
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