Dreamfall Chapters or A Multiverse Adventure

Set 200 years in the future and in a fantasy world in a parallel universe connected by Storytime, the world of dreams where all stories begin and end, and being the successor of the two The Longest Journey games (the last one now 10 years old), Dreamfall Chapters sounds complicated and IS complicated to get into.

The game gives a brief explanation of what happened before, but wikipedia gives you considerably more information, which is kind of helpful to understand what’s happening. With all this info now digested, let’s roll and let’s have a look at the two protagonists in their respective worlds.

As Zoe, you live in the pan-European city of Europolis, which has turned into a police state after an event called the Collapse, and is preparing for elections. Sounds all too familiar, doesn’t it? Anyway, as the talkative-almost-oversharing and quite sarcastic Zoe, you start out Dreamfall Chapters by living an ordinary life, bringing lunch to your investigative journalist boyfriend and finding out what use a “shitbot” is. The game’s words, by the way. Obviously, the story gets enriched by worldly and otherworldly conspiracies as it develops.

As for Kian, the fantasy world protagonist, his story starts darker and less humorous, and his adventure is also simply not that interesting. Yes, we witness his character development from blind faith to thinking in Dreamfall Chapters, but he is still not that interesting a character, and his story just has too much of the usual fantasy clichés such as “bad invaders want to prohibit magic” or “good guy who worked for evil empire now seeks redemption”.

Zoe’s dystopian story however is far more interesting. Be it the interesting stories of an impoverished Europe and a rich Africa, be it the European language (English with lots of words borrowed from other languages), be it the story of oppression and surveillance that at times resembles Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, or be it the same damn political struggle against extremism, all enriched by Zoe’s sarcastic thoughts. Her journal also helps you identifying with her, as she writes everything down rather the way it is, or at least appears to her.

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Xenophobia, xenophobia never changes.

In terms of gameplay, there is also a slight difference – Zoe usually asks more questions and her objectives are a bit more playful (at first at least), while Kian’s are more direct and often in old-fashioned point & click style. Most of the tasks are well-known and won’t take much time to figure them out – combine two objects, find someone or something and bring it somewhere, etc. Some objectives however are hard to meet – if the controls of Dreamfall Chapters ask you to go to a very specific point that and the action is triggered just there, not a millimetre to the left, well, that’s not too great now, is it? Different maps in the different worlds are a nice little touch tough.

Technically speaking, Dreamfall Chapters is pretty much the game you expect from a kickstarter experience and an episodic format (consoles thankfully get the more polished all-at-once experience); the animations are very wooden, the voice overs hardly reflect the environments nut are mostly still okay, the levels often lack details common in today’s games and the loading times are pretty long. On top of that, Dreamfall Chapters features a very outdated checkpoint system – not only can’t you save whenever YOU want, the game sometimes doesn’t save after important moments. Leave the game at your own peril or always pay attention to the save icon!

All of this being said, Dreamfall Chapters is still a game that has an entertaining story (it’s not Kian’s story that’s boring, plenty happens there, it’s the presentation of his character, especially in the beginning) with a few nice twists. The more cynical you are, the more you’ll probably enjoy the game, too. Make no mistakes, Dreamfall Chapters isn’t a happy game in either world. So, if you can deal with buying an indie game for the price of an AAA game and you have no objections to swearing a lot or to the outdated technical presentation, this interesting adventure waits to be played by you.

Rabidgames dreams: A bit more polishing, a bit more care for facial animations and voice overs, and Dreamfall Chapters could have been a thrilling adventure ride. It is still a decent enough game, but it’s difficult to get attached to at least some of the characters because of this. It is also a bit like Assassin’s Creed Syndicate again with the two different main characters, one of them bland. But look beyond that, and there’s an interwoven story across dimensions waiting, and who knows who’s awake or dreaming.

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