Dreamfall: The Longest Journey PC Games and Downloads
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Released on 26/05/2006
- You will never run out of new things to do! Explore exotic locations, travel between three worlds, embark on epic quests, converse with fully voiced characters, fight intelligent monsters, sneak through dark shadows and past dangerous enemies, solve intriguing puzzles, and play fun mini-games.
- Experience the story from three separate perspectives, and use abilities unique to each character: strength, street-smarts, and dexterity.
- From vast cities to deep forests, across the seven seas and into endless caverns, above and beyond anything you have ever seen – the twin worlds of science and magic are filled with challenges and adventure. But in the world outside the worlds – in the Winter – logic does not apply, and nothing will have prepared you for the ultimate truth...
- Multiple solutions and multiple outcomes place you in charge of the story. Make choices that affect how people relate to you; solve conflicts with cunning or with violence; and speak your mind in branching dialogues.
- Interact with the environment through the use of the brand new Focus Field feature, an easy-to-use context-sensitive interface, and fully analog character controls – giving you total power over your character.
Funcom's fantasy fare finally arrives...
Long-overdue and highly anticipated, PC gamers can now, finally, get their hands on Dreamfall. And that’s just as well. A hybrid action-adventure in the Fahrenheit mould, the sequel to 2000’s critically acclaimed The Longest Journey offers an approach to the graphic adventure genre that modern gamers rarely get to experience.
The association with Dreamfall's predecessor is the obvious one: The Longest Journey is widely credited as the last of the great expositional storytelling PC point n clickers. The likeness to Fahrenheit is also unmistakable and encouraging; Atari's take on graphic adventures isn’t faultless, but we found its dialogue-heavy discourse a refreshing change of pace.
Dreamfall, like Fahrenheit, is both evocative and thought-provoking, boasting epic environments, complicated characterisation, and themes of technology and faith underpinning a constantly evolving narrative.
The missing gameplay
Unfortunately, Dreamfall also boasts Fahrenheit's one discernable drawback; interaction. Or rather, a notable lack thereof. Actually, that's a little harsh. Where Fahrenheit had rhythmic stick-waggling QTE’s, Dreamfall does at least attempt to keep with convention; stealth; fighting; puzzle solving... that sort of thing.
The problem is... well, it's not always very good. Don't get us wrong, in no dimension is Dreamfall a spectacular failure, but it by no means delivers the successful all-around package.
Evocative and thought-provoking, boasting epic environments, complicated characterisation, and a constantly evolving narrative.
Unresponsive would be a kind way to describe Dreamfall's rudimentary beat-em-up engine. Stuttering attacks are more often than not met by repeated blocks; with fights quickly degenerating into button-thumping attrition. Mercifully, however, though by far the worst aspect of the game, combat in Dreamfall is rare, so we can consider it as a non-fatal flaw in the game's otherwise solid framework.
Where Dreamfall excels is in its story. Funcom have crafted an absorbing piece of Sci Fi fantasy fiction that in many ways shares a lot with a Choose Your Own Adventure tale. This is a thinking gamer's game; maybe light on convincing hand/eye coordination challenges, but with the right mentality, a few moments in Dreamfall's spellbinding world can lead to hours given over to its interactive storytelling charms.
As the game begins, main character Zoë Castillo lies comatose in a hospital bed, her father by her side, with future Casablanca in the background. Zoe’s own past-tense narration soon begins, telling us that the world is in grave danger – though in her helpless, comatose state, she’s unable do anything about it. Compelling indeed.
The biggest mystery
Winding back the game's narrative, gameplay begins a few weeks prior, where Zoë, in that trendy, gym-going, directionless college dropout phase, gets a cryptic phonecall and starts out on a small task that soon snowballs into an epic quest. Asked to pick up a package from a downtown office, Zoë clearly doesn't envisage being attacked by the unhelpful receptionist when she starts asking question.
This about sets the trend for the rest of the tale. Much like Dreamcast classic Shenmue, Dreamfall is dialogue heavy, with different conversation decisions leading to alternate outcomes – some violent, some passive – so the way you play Dreamfall really will tell you something about what kind of gamer you are.
An affecting exercise in interactive exposition, the delivery of screenplay and scripting are enough to carry Dreamfall through.
Despite this though, Dreamfall is less open-ended than it first promises. In the end, violent or passive routes get the same ending, while pretty much every puzzle, set piece and cutscene is set in stone. Surprisingly, this mere illusion of choice is a good thing: By keeping to a linear path, Funcom have kept a tight reign on the plot, and avoided the silliness of Farenheit’s barely coherent final third.
Sadly, lovers of The Longest Journey may be somewhat underwhelmed with Dreamfall’s puzzles. There's a minimal amount of item ferrying and cross-inventory item-combining, while most conundrums use a straightforward patterns – such as matching up symbols to unpick a lock.
There are other tradeoffs too; Stealth, while never as bad as fighting, is still underdeveloped, and graphically, Dreamfall doesn’t exactly push PC technology to its limit. Dreamfall’s art style is eye-catching, it’s gameworld evocative, but in terms of detail, it’s nothing special.
Thankfully, its aural qualities couldn't be more the opposite: everything from voice acting to music screams high production values, and it's a shame the rest of Dreamfall is a mixed bag next to this one exceptional element.
The greatest story
Fortunately, those who value an affecting exercise in interactive exposition, the delivery of screenplay and scripting are enough to carry Dreamfall through. It falls down in areas that would otherwise cripple less story-driven titles, but Dreamfall’s narrative content is enough to elevate it above the realms of average and into the truly idiosyncratic.
Like all games of this nature, however, Dreamfall won't be for everyone; if all-out action is your thing, Dreamfall almost certainly will pass you by. If, however, you like a game that makes you think, consider yourself something of a retrohead, enjoyed Fahrenheit, or merely want to try something different, Dreamfall's well worth a look.
- Affecting, evocative and compelling fantasy fare
- Wonderfully acted characters, tight scripting and good pacing
- Superb production values on the aural side
- Weak interactive elements
- Not the best looker by PC standards
- Lacking longevity: once you've finished it, that's it
Review by: Mark Scott
Review Published: 10.08.06
Mark's dreaming of a new games industry…
Thank David Cage. Seriously. The producer of Atari’s Fahrenheit reminded us all with one game how great a pure graphic adventure can be, showing how to adapt the most traditional of gaming templates to the modern market and still achieve both critical and commercial success.
And if like us you loved Fahrenheit, then you should start to get excited, because hot on its Adventure heels comes Funcom's fascinating Dreamfall: The Longest Journey. The sequel to 2000's The Longest Journey boasts both an impressive pedigree and an established fanbase, all of whom are eager to see the return of one of the last true classic PC point 'n' clickers.
Dreamfall is very aware of its heritage, taking place in TLJ’s universe and even featuring some familiar characters of old. However, in terms of structure it's much closer to Fahrenheit, with similar narrative focus, emphasis on character interaction and evocative scene-setting, and a maximized cinematic effect factoring in a downplayed visual style and uncluttered interface.
A world away
That said, in terms of setting and central protagonist the two couldn't be more different. Dreamfall's sunny future Casablanca scenery is a world away from Fahrenheit’s snow-white present-day New York cityscape, while the high-flying lifestyle and guilt-ridden conscience of Lucas Kane are polar opposites to the aimless apathy of Dreamfall's premier player character, twenty year-old college dropout Zoë Castillo. Yet what both share is an involving and twisting mystery, which in Dreamfall spans the worlds of magic and science, encompassing control of two other characters along the way.
Whichever character you control, you'll be following a simple system that mixes old point 'n' click conventions with the more modern action-adventure context-sensitive fare. Using the left analogue stick on Xbox and the WASD keys on PC you'll directly move your avatar around the gameworld and interact with objects and none-player characters using simple button presses.
Dreamfall could well establish a new norm for the re-emerging graphic adventure genre.
Dreamfall's answer to the point and click genre’s significant drawback (namely, moving the mouse around the screen until something of use highlights) is the Focus Field; basically a small cone of light used to highlight any and all objects that can be interacted with. It sounds simple, but if it works as expected, Dreamfall could well establish a new norm for the re-emerging graphic adventure genre.
The screenplay itself would already appear to be a standard setter. Like Knights of the Old Republic, Dreamfall makes up for technically underpowered visuals with a powerful and evocative art style. Likewise, Dreamfall boasts an aural score that’s immediately rousing, while speech avoids the cheesy overtones we're so used to in game voice acting. Thankfully, that should make Dreamfall’s copious dialogue trees a breeze to play; with plenty of conversation options, but few of the moral issues surrounding Bioware’s stellar sci fi RPG.
Instead of multiple endings, Dreamfall offers different snippets of info that filter through depending on your choices, though without Fahrenheit’s timer, or KoTOR’s light or dark side shift, creating a balance between styles that lets fans play the game at their own pace.
emotive, enriching, and expositional
Dreamfall also boasts some more conventional action-adventure elements, though these seem less developed than the script and screenplay. Stealth is an option, and a rudimentary combat system is present, but reports would suggest that neither are massively developed, with the focus instead largely on conversation and puzzles. That may disappoint Resi Evil fans, but then this is a graphic adventure - it's simply not that kind of game.
No, anyone approaching Dreamfall should do so expecting an emotive, enriching, and expositional 15 hour-long case study on updating an old genre using new 3D clothes. Lovers of The Longest Journey should be excited, as should Fahrenheit fans, but even the average adventure player may want to give Dreamfall a look. Titles with this vision and forward-thinking approach come along only very, very rarely, which may just make Funcom's idiosyncratic interactive story something to savour.
Preview by: Mark Scott
Preview Published: 20.04.06
Dreamfall: The Longest Journey (PC) (15/06/2006)
Funcom's fantasy fare finally arrives...
Long-overdue and highly anticipated, PC gamers can now, final…Dreamfall: The Longest Journey Preview (20/04/2006)
Dreamfall: The Longest Journey Preview…
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