Dreamfall: The Longest Journey Review

By Mitch West, GN Writer

No game genre seems to be as difficult to get right as the adventure genre. If it’s done correctly then a game can quickly become an epic masterpiece. However, the majority of titles in this genre turn out to be bland and very forgettable. Six years ago, an adventure title called The Longest Journey was released on the PC and received much praise – in fact, some called it one of the better adventure titles ever created. Mixing complex puzzle solving with a very intriguing story, The Longest Journey wowed gamers everywhere. Since that time there have been quite a few adventure titles worth mentioning; the most notable of which being Indigo Prophecy. With the intertwining story lines and Hollywood quality presentation, Indigo Prophecy raised the bar on what an adventure title should be. Now Funcom looks to regain their former glory with the sequel to the fantastic The Longest Journey, Dreamfall.

Dreamfall: The Longest Journey takes players on an epic journey following the tale of a normal girl named Zoé. On just another boring day of lounging around the house Zoé is quickly drawn into a complex world of corporate cover-ups and conspiracies. Following the disappearance of a close friend, Zoé is led all around the world in search of clues to his whereabouts. The story is immensely deep and follows the tale of both Zoé Castillo, April Ryan, and Kian Alvané (The Apostle) who meet up at different points throughout the game.

After the first ten minutes of playing Dreamfall, thoughts will revolve around the clunky and slow controls. Controlling Zoé’s actions feels stiff and more of a nuisance than anything. The camera deals with the same issues, it is a manually-controlled camera that sometimes causes problems by clipping through walls and zooming in too close on the action. It’s nothing that can’t be dealt with, but the game would have been much more enjoyable had these slight issues been hammered out. Another nagging issue is the speed at which the characters move – there is no way to sprint, making for one of two options: walking very slowly or jogging very slowly. Both become annoying when there is backtracking to be done, and nothing new to explore. It also becomes tedious for those times when just getting through a dangerous area is the number one concern.

Playing through Dreamfall is a pretty standard ordeal, considering the genre; run to a location and sit through some of the story. Run to another location sit through a huge revelation in the story, and repeat ad nauseum. While the formula is tried and true, it’s beginning to run a little thin in that “Haven’t we seen this before?” kind of way. The gameplay that is there, however, is based off of a simple inventory system. Players have no more than one or two items of interest at a single time. Sometimes you’ll have to combine items, sometimes you are given precisely what you need. No matter what, it all feels pretty mundane. What this results in is simple fetch quests that have Zoé doing plenty of backtracking through small areas, which gets quite annoying. The most frustrating thing about these fetch quests is that there are so many. After obtaining an item and bringing it to the select location you are sent on another one immediately following your return. It’s about as exciting as waking up early in the morning after a long night of drinking and having to find the car keys in order to avoid being late for work.

When not running back and forth through an area trying to locate an item, Zoé is either engaging in combat or solving puzzles. The combat in Dreamfall is, to put it simply, horrible. Slow, unresponsive at times, it features hit detection that is downright laughable. Blocking is useless, since a heavy attack will end the facade. On the other hand, the A.I. opponents seem to be able to block the majority of heavy attacks and will not cease to block unless they are ready to destroy somebody. The combat is easily the worst thing about this game, luckily the developers seemed to realize this and put such a tiny amount of fighting that it doesn’t have too large of an effect on the overall game itself.

The puzzles in the game are nothing to get excited about either, and feel like a dumbed down version of what could be expected from Sesame Street 1-2-3/A-B-C. These puzzles consist of not much more than preform mindless task number one, watch cutscene explaining in depth of mindless task number two and then preform said mindless task. Then there are the cell phone minigames which need to be completed in order to bypass locks on some doors. These minigames feel like a digitized game of Perfection, in which all of the correct shapes need to be identified before time runs out – causing yet another anger fit for this writer. T

Throughout the game there are portions where stealth may be required. While not on the level of Sam Fisher by any means, the espionage in Dreamfall is not quite as bad as could be expected. Things such as setting a pizza oven off early to sneak past a guard add a nice element to the otherwise distressing gameplay. There are also moments in the game in which Zoé can take control of a machine to do a little recon action and bypass hazards or security systems.

The visuals in Dreamfall are not particularly stunning. The textures are flat and the character models aren’t too pretty. What’s worse is the animations; the running animations remind me of a joint-less robot flailing around helplessly. The only saving grace is that some of the environments look pretty and there are a lot of vibrant colors that make said environments come to life. It’s understandable that this is a game on a dying platform, but for this late in the console’s life, better graphics are to be expected.

Audio, on the other hand, is brilliantly preformed, and adds an appreciated level of depth to the game and story. The voice-overs are preformed excellently; there are performances that couldn’t have been delivered better from professional Hollywood actors. The soundtrack is a nice blend of some British pop, some rock, and even a little rave music. All the tunes fits their atmosphere and foreshadow certain events. All of the audio elements culminate to create one exquisite experience in an otherwise lackluster game.

Dreamfall may not have the best gameplay around, but what it does have is an epic story. The only reason to play through the entire game is the anticipation of what will happen next. With plenty of plot twists and suspenseful moments, putting the controller down will become a challenge. Quite frankly, the story is the only reason to play Dreamfall start to finish.

With all of the negative elements in the game, suggesting a purchase of Dreamfall to anyone is a difficult thing to do. With sub par combat, stiff controls and camera, and repetitive gameplay, Dreamfall is not the type of game on which to spend forty hard earned dollars. With that said, the story in Dreamfall is alone worthy of at least a rental for any fan of the adventure genre. Dreamfall sadly didn’t live up to the standards set by its predecessor, but with a story that will not soon be forgotten, it wouldn’t hurt to check it out.



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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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