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Oh it's been such a long time since a good adventure game came out, the only recent and decent game I've seen has been the latest Bone title. Dreamfall has been long awaited, not just by me, but by fans of the first title "The Longest Journey" that was released some years ago. It was a fantastic point and click adventure title, one even now that shines above most others, it had a great story, an adult feel, good dialogue and excellent puzzles. The follow up has been 6 years in the making, lets hope that the developers have remembered just why the game was so popular, the story!
In 2219, the great geopolitical balance of the world Stark has shifted massively. The once great powers of the West now lie weakened, receding before the newly acquired strength of the African continent. Innovations that fuse computing and cloning science define life in a universe overrun by technology.
Dreamfall’s blends fantasy and the futuristic within an original universe that spans three worlds – the world of science named Stark, the world of magic named Arcadia, and a frightening realm called the Winter. Dreamfall features dozens of exotic locations, from a futuristic Casablanca in Stark, to a magic metropolis in Arcadia; from a strange city at sea, to vast subterranean caverns, and a dark necropolis; from the high-tech halls of a Japanese corporation to the Winter, where a black house holds a terrifying secret.
Zoë Castillo, the main heroines of Dreamfall, is haunted by visions: A black house, a little girl and a desperate plea for help. Is it a dream – or a message? When her best friend vanishes, Zoë discovers a connection between her visions and a terrifying global conspiracy. Now Zoë must risk everything to find him and unravel the mystery. Her journey will take her to the end of the world, across continents, through strange cities, and into the Winter – a place that holds the secrets of the past and the key to the future.
Six years is a heck of a long time to wait for a sequel to one of the best ever adventure games. Some of the reviews I have read of dreamfall so far have criticized its style. This is really more of a cinematic experience than any other game I have played for some time, there are long cutscenes which then lead into a bit of adventuring and then into more cutscenes or dialogue with characters. Yes this dialogue is long, but for me this is perfect as adventure games always had good talking parts and pushed on the story. The general gameplay hasn't changed that much from the Longest Journey, except that the game is now in full 3D. This is the major change and it here when I find the only downside to the game, the controls are very fiddly on the PC (I can't comment on the Xbox version as I don't have that yet). The easiest way of controlling the game for me is a combination of mouse and keyboard with me controlling the camera behind the character I'm in control of with the mouse and moving forward with the keyboard.
The game itself isn't as difficult as The Longest Journey was, the puzzles are easier to figure out. This isn't a bad thing though, a lot of gamers didn't complete the Longest Journey because they got stuck in places, this was a real shame as there was a fantastic story to be seen and heard. If there is any criticism it would be that I would have liked to have had the difficulty slightly higher than it is now, with more complex puzzles thrown in for good measure, but in saying that, you get to enjoy the story far more the way they have it now.
Dreamfall introduces some basic combat into the gameplay, while I don't mind the addition, it isn't done very well, there are blocks, light and strong hits and that's it, there is no depth to it and sometimes it can get frustrated when you die simply because of poor controls and a dodgy camera. What Dreamfall does have is a fantastic story and some very good dialogue and I don't mind saying that I listened to all of it, even though you don't have to ask various characters about their life stories, I enjoyed hearing about them and understanding more about the world I was in.
Graphics & Sound
Graphically Dreamfall looks great, I have been running it in 1680x1050 on the review machines Connect3D X1900 XTX graphics card and the AMD 5000+ X2 processor. This means I can run the game with everything on full quality including Anti Aliasing. While the characters may not look as advanced as you will see in some 3D titles these days, the whole look and feel of the game is excellent, because of the way the facial animations are, you get a real feel for the characters and for the situations they are in. The artwork, vibrant colours and art design of Dreamfall gave me goose bumps at times, in the same way that the original "The Longest Journey" did for me all those years ago.
Another bit mention must go to both the music and sound, the soundtrack is superb, its fully orchestrated and is perfect for the world of Dreamfall, its beautiful to hear. The voice work in the game is excellent too and I'm pleased to say that the original actress who voiced April in the original game is back 6 years later for the sequel. The voices in the game really do convay the character emotions well and make you feel for the problems they are coming up against. The game itself makes full use of EAX 4 and is great in 5.1 surround.
I'm rating the game on my experience with it, if you want a game that puts story, setting, dialogue and atmosphere above gameplay then Dreamfall: The Longest Journey will be a joy, if you like more in-depth gameplay then it isn't going to appeal to you, but you'll be missing out if you don't play it. The game is filled with so many characters, backstory and plot that Dreamfall will keep most hardened adventurers happy for some time to come. I really hope this sells well as it deserves another sequel.
Feel free to comment on the review here.