Dreamfall Chapters is the third outing in the long running 17 year series that began with the critically acclaimed The Longest Journey way back in 1999.
At the time The Longest Journey set new standards for adventure games that have been hard to match. With this latest offering though, it looks as though this may no longer be the case. Dreamfall Chapters, has been developed by Red Thread Games, an independent studio founded by Ragnar Tørnquist, who coincidentally wrote and directed the previous two games. So with this type of history, its little surprise that Dreamfall Chapters manages to not only equal the iconic The Longest Journey and its sequel Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, but, in many respects, outshine its predecessors.
Now available on next gen consoles, Dreamfall Chapters was originally released as an episodic five part series. Thankfully with the release on consoles, gamers can play all five books in one very long sitting. It too us an average of eight to nine hours for each book. So, at the asking price of around $35, you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck.
There are three main stories that make up Dreamfall Chapters; One story, and by far our favourite, is set in 2220 and you play the role of Zoë Castillo, an amnesiac who lives in a cyber-punk future Earth (or Stark as its known) who struggles to regain her memory and continue her work as a political activist. During the course of this epic adventure game you’ll also play as Kian Alvane, a former Azadi assassin who lives in a darker and broodier twin world known as Arcadia. Arcadia is a planet on edge as those with magical powers continue their fight against those without. Finally, Saga is a playable character whose story, until now, had previously been told in interludes.
The main villain of the game is Brian Westhouse, a Starkian who, finding himself trapped in Arcadia, decides to return home by forcibly reuniting the Twin Worlds with the power of the Undreaming.
Throughout the game, you’ll travel around talking to people, solving puzzles and slowly piecing together all the diverse strands of what is probably the most engaging adventure game plot we’ve ever played. Dreamfall Chapters also includes genuine moments of soul searching where you’re challenged to make a moral choice that will change the course of the game depending on what you decide to do. Unlike games such as Fear The Walking Dead which later tells you how many players made the same choice as you did, Dreamfall Chapters makes this information available to you before you decide. The question is, will this sway your judgment or will you stay true to your own opinions?
Graphically, Dreamfall Chapters looks stunning. Ok, we’re not talking Drakes Fortune or Halo great, But it looks great none the less. Each location has been painfully realized with tons of detail and, no matter where you are, you can’t help but feel immersed by the incredible settings. Red Thread Games have done an excellent job in differentiating both worlds through their subtle use of colours and shadows. In particular walking around Arcadia, you can almost feel the palpable tension and danger in each darkened alleyway. Excellent.
The puzzles in Dreamfall Chapters are a mixture of talking to the right characters, finding objects and combining them in order to achieve a given objective. Thankfully, the puzzles strike just the right balance between being challenging but not impossible.
The voice acting in Dreamfall Chapters is also among the best we’ve come across in an adventure title. Yes we loved the voice work in Syberia 3. But, honestly, this is just as good if not better. There’s also heaps of incidental dialogue, which, although they don’t move the game forward, really adds to the sense that you’re in a living, breathing world.
The only minor niggle we had with this game was the same one that hampers a lot of adventure titles. Namely, the controls were a little imprecise and sometimes getting the cursor to highlight the right area often took a little longer than we’d liked. But that minor gripe aside, Dreamfall Chapters is an excellent title that’s definitely worthy of pride of place in your game collection. Go buy.
8 out of 10