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REVIEW / Dreamfall Chapters (PC)

 

Crowd-funded games have drastically risen in popularity in the last few years with many new titles making it to market only because fans were willing to come together to support the developers that they know will produce a quality product. In 2013, the fans of developer Red Thread Games pitched-in to make their Kickstarter campaign a success and helped create Dreamfall Chapters, the long-awaited episodic story-driven adventure game follow-up to the award-winning and bestselling adventure games The Longest Journey and Dreamfall: The Longest Journey.

With the events of the first two games as its foundation, this new chapter in the ongoing saga follows the lives of three characters on their journeys across two very different worlds. These worlds, one a cyberpunk vision of the future and the other a magical fantasy world, will intertwine and have consequences that will greatly influence events in the remaining four episodes. In this first episode, the player will be exposed to mature themes and fantastic locations as seen through the eyes of the three main characters while determining the course that their journeys should take. BE WARNED: the choices and actions that you make can have surprising and devastating consequences. Every decision that you make in the game will have a significant impact on the way that the story plays out for you.

 

Zoe and Dr Roman ship

Dr. Roman is trying to help Zoe to recover her lost memories…or is he?

 

Dreamfall Chapters is an episodic game done in the vein of titles like Telltale’s The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us in that it will be released to the public in five separate episodes beginning on October 21, 2014, with episodes two through five being released throughout 2015. This is an adventure game to its core with the player taking control of the three main characters in order to advance the narrative and determine their fates. The first character that you will control is Zoe Castillo, who at the end of the last game was left in a coma. She awakens sometime later with no memories of how or why she was in that predicament but knows that it has something to do with the Dream device that is overtaking the populace like a wildfire, leaving many who spend their whole days in a dream world of their own making. The player must navigate this world by interacting with NPCs to gain valuable information as well as solving puzzles with items that are found in the environment. Being aware of the fact that decisions you make will be remembered by the people that you come in contact with may come back to haunt you in the end is imperative, so choose wisely.

The visuals in Dreamfall Chapters really shine considering that this game was made by such a small team. The two worlds in the game can’t be anymore different, yet Red Thread Games has been able to create a separate feel for both in a way that sets them apart and that often felt like I was playing two different games. The cyberpunk world is shiny and filed with high-tech gadgets and a futuristic motif. The fantasy world, on the other hand, is set in a medieval period with castle dungeons and magic spells. Together, the juxtaposition of these two diametrically opposed environments creates a very unique adventure that will keep you engaged and invested in seeing how your decisions play out in future episodes.

 

Kian with sword

Kian is the second character that you will play as in the fantasy world. Help him to escape his captors and reveal his fate.

 

The soundtrack in Dreamfall Chapters is very well done and the tunes that you will encounter during your journey, while they change in style to compliment the particular world that you are playing in, works to immerse you in the adventure as well as to give each world it’s own unique feel. Having to create two separate worlds that actually feel to the player like they are traveling between places that are in two very different times had to be a daunting undertaking for Red Thread Games but they seem to have pulled it off. The tunes that play in the cyberpunk world sound futuristic and out-of-this-world while the tunes that play in the fantasy world sound rustic and aged giving the worlds a very unique feel. The voice over work was surprisingly excellent and helped to make the characters feel alive. The amount of characters that you will come across is pretty large and each one has their own personalities and voice that helps to make the worlds feel vibrant and thriving.

Dreamfall Chapters is built in two worlds, cyberpunk and fantasy. I personally love playing games as well as reading stories that take place in these genre settings. There are a few issues that I encountered that took me out of the experience, however, but I know will probably be dealt with in the remaining episodes. The voice overs, while they are excellent in scope and performed by some very talented actors, hardly ever matched up with the lip movement of the characters. It’s not just on a few words but with just about every sentence that is spoken in the first episode. This isn’t a deal breaker but is somewhat distracting when viewing the parts of the game where you have to interact with other characters. In addition, a lot of the information that is presented to the player to help her/him make a decision on which way to proceed in the game is done when you are presented with the choices that become available when interacting with NPCs and some of them can be fairly long-winded. It would be nice if a lot of that can be integrated into the events of the story allowing for simpler explanations of the available choices and allow the player to proceed faster.

 

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Characters will remember how you interacted with them so choose your actions and responses wisely.

 

Fans of the previous games in this series are in for a real treat with Dreamfall Chapters. If you haven’t played either of these games, do not fret. The game does a great job of retelling the events of the first two games so that people new to the series don’t feel like they are left out in the cold. You can download the first episode now on Steam for $29.99 which will of course give you access to the remaining four episodes once they release. While the game doesn’t really bring anything new to the genre, the story is definitely worth sticking around for. If you want more info on Red Thread Games and the later episodes, head on over to their web site for details.

 

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