It’s been a very long time coming for fans of the series that started with The Longest Journey way back in 1999. Finally, the last instalment of an adventure that started out as a classic point and click game before moving into the realms of 3D in Dreamfall is here in a new episodic format.
The story follows only two of the three characters present in the previous game. Zoe Castillio, is trapped in a coma in Stark and must struggle to reconnect with the real world. Klan Alvane, a soldier in Arcadia, is imprisoned after turning on his former masters. There are hints at another character but at this stage it seems unlikely that April Ryan will be returning anytime soon.
The game has removed the fiddly combat and stealth sections of Dreamfall and is now a fully-fledged 3D version of a point and click adventure game. You guide you character around and when they see something of interest icons will appear to allow you to interact with it in various ways such as looking or using an item. It’s a smart approach as the previous game was only ever hindered by anything that broke the flow of the story.
In their place is a new choice system which see’s certain decisions remembered by characters in the game. Whether these choices will make any grand difference or merely provide an illusion in the vein of The Walking Dead we’ll have to wait and see. You can also check to see the choices other players have made throughout the game at each section.
The game looks beautiful and there is a clear distinction between the scientific world of Stark and the high fantasy of the world of Arcadia. The real strength of the game though is the writing and there is some of the best we’ve seen here. It can be a little uneven at times by Zoe Castillo is a beautifully realised character and her voice actor has nailed the role as well. Klan Alvane is sadly a bit lacking in comparison and this creates a slightly unbalanced game. There’s also a fair few repeated sound samples that we could really do without.
Other multiple character games have suffered with this in the past and it is clear that Dreamfall Chapters currently has one character who is much more interesting than the other. Zoe wipes the floor with Klan currently in terms of her world to explore, her character and how she is written and as a result whenever you are moved over to play Klan interest does drop. This isn’t helped by the fact that the first section featuring Klan is incredibly drab and also very fiddly to navigate.
Luckily, the first chapter seems to spend more time with Zoe and allows us to explore her world and her as a character much more fully. Hopefully Klan will develop as the story goes on as he was an interesting and conflicted character in the last game. We have a sneaking suspicion though that the most interesting part of his life may have already taken place as it will be hard to top the story arc which leads him to become a traitor to his cause.
It’s only a fairly minor issue though as the game is a lovely re-introduction to the two worlds. There is certainly a lot of promise here and Zoe especially shows signs of turning into a wonderfully realised character as she progresses. There are some performance issues and we did have to do quite a bit of fiddling to get the game to run at a half decent speed but all in all any fan of the original games should be very happy with what they have here.
Overall, this is a highly promising start of the new episodic format. It may not be one for newcomers to the series as very little of the back story is explained and at this point there’s about one hundred hours of it. For fans though it’s like meeting an old friend and their slightly less interesting cousin. Zoe is simply magnetic and once you’re drawn into her story there’s no way you’ll be leaving before you reach the end.