Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dreamfall Chapters Book One Review

Book One of Dreamfall Chapters, the long awaited sequel to The Longest Journey and Dreamfall, is finally here. It has a few shortcomings, but ultimately it still manages to be worth the wait.

The story picks up where Dreamfall left off. This chapter of the game alternates between the playable characters of Zoë Castillo and Kian Alvane, as they both are stuck in different ways, and both have to find their way out of their predicaments. That is merely a prologue to the main story, as we pick up the story from the points that have been built in the prologue, which are aptly referred to in-game as the characters being reborn.

Like Dreamfall, the game is once again a three dimensional adventure game where the player has direct control over the movements of the character. In Dreamfall Chapters, actions are performed by the mouse (or thumbstick), and you need to walk up to an object in order to be able to interact with it. Any object that can be interacted with snaps right into view, which is handled a bit clumsily as this quick motion can cause a bit of queasiness, or at the very least a feeling of separation from the game's world. It has a choice based system similar to those found in Telltale's games where characters remember the response that you made to them and will react accordingly when you encounter them next. It also has internal dialog from the characters that explains each choice, which really helps in letting the player know how the character is going to respond for each choice, making accidentally clicking something that you misunderstood pretty much impossible.

 However, unlike Telltale's recent offerings, here, you have a full inventory. Because of this, there are classic inventory puzzles that need to be solved. The game does a good job of handling both of these gameplay styles well. The puzzles are not too complex, but they aren't too easy either, which is a good balance for the first part of an inventory puzzle based adventure game. It also has branching paths with different storyline and different puzzles based on a choice near the beginning of the game.

The art style differs in quality in certain areas. The character models look fantastic, but the animation is quite stiff, in both the character's facial expressions and their movements. The background art also differs in quality based on the location. Some of it is quite well done, such as in Dream Time or in the city. However, other areas, such as the castle, are rather bland. The rest of the presentation is quite fantastic, however. The story is excellent as ever for this series, both in the main plot and in the additional lore which can be read optionally in places like Zoë's journal. The music and voice acting is exceptional as well, and really helps to bring you into the story. The city is also booming with life, with lots of non player characters walking around, and there is a lot of areas to explore, which really helps with the immersion. There are also maps placed throughout in case you get stuck.

Dreamfall Chapters is said to cover the chapters of life, and the first chapter is covered well, for the most part. The game's art style varies from the excellent character models to the sometimes bland locations, and the animation is a bit stiff. However, the excellent story, fantastic use of a mix of inventory puzzles and choice based gameplay, branching paths with a differing storyline and different puzzles to solve, ample areas for exploration, and great voice acting and music help to overcome the slight shortcomings in parts of the presentation.

Final Verdict:

4 out of 5

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