Thursday, July 13, 2006

Neverending story? No, but the Longest Journey.


Dreamfall: The longest Journey 2 actually. This is an action adventure game similar, well not really similar to anything I have played recently (Although with the dearth of adventure games this is actually the first I have played in years). The story takes place in the future and an alternate reality. They are connected via dreams and that is where the name Dreamfall comes in.

This is the second game in a multi-game series. I never played the first so I cannot comment on it, but this story involves three characters that you control throughout the stories telling. The Main character through the story and the character that you will control the most is Zoë Castillo. You also play the April Ryan a resistance fighter and Kian Avalne who is an “Apostle” on a mission to spread the word of the goddess. To tell you the truth in the beginning the game I found Zoë quite dull and droll. She was always wining about trying to find herself and that she did not have a purpose, blah, blah, blah. By the time you get to games end you will understand more of where she is coming from.

The game itself is shown in the over the shoulder third person perspective. This works for the most part. Getting used to moving the character around took about 15 minutes and after that it was a piece of cake. The inventory system is also pretty easy to use. At most I might have had 5 items on my character so inventory management was pretty simple. Dialog was pretty easy to work with as well. It was as easy as clicking on the correct question or response.

Overall I thought the story was quite interesting. Nothing like the normal run of the mill single righteous hero alone against a world they are at odds with. No this story follows the life of a girl who has lost her way and sees no purpose and she is slowly dragged into something bigger than herself. What's more it pulls the player into not just one world, but multiple different worlds and places. Another interesting aspect of the games story is that you can play as multiple characters who intermingle throughout the same story. At one point you switch between two of the characters as you have them asking each other questions.

The graphical and sound presentation of the game in particular the graphics are outstanding. The way the light can light up a dark room or the way the architecture can look like an old world town and at the same time look modern or futuristic (especially the city of Casablanca). Overall I just loved watching my character romp through the environment. The sound was nice not exactly memorable, but nice. The musical score was subtle and never got annoying. The characters don't exactly lip sync, but the voice acting is top notch. I would say from an audio stand point the dialog was the highlight.

Now the game is not without its faults. The fighting system is just a useless distraction that pulls you out of the game instead of thrusting you into it. The clunky controls and the awkward angles made for either an overly challenging fight or no challenge at all. If the developer were to create another sequel I would hope they do away with fighting all together. Also at more than one instance I became stuck in the scenery. Since I save methodically I did not have a problem it was but one click away, but nonetheless it was still annoying. Maybe I am a little spoiled with some of the modern emotions shown by some of the character in today’s 3D shooters especially those of Half-Life 2, but the acting and lip syncing of the characters in Dreamfall sort of reminded me of puppets from Thunderbirds. What really spooked the heck out of me was the occasional weird eye movement of Zoë (crrreeepppy cyborg looks as the eyes just went back and forth as if in a hypnotic state). I would say these are just minor blemishes on an otherwise great adventure game.

My final thoughts are that if you are into adventure games and miss some of the old school storytelling that seems to be missing from most modern games then this is your game. If you are looking for a 3d shooter in which conversations begin and end with a bullet lodged in someone's cortex I would, first quietly walk out of the room, then call you from a far away pay phone and tell you this is not your type of game. If I had a ratings system and it went up to 10 I would probably give it an 8.5 overall. Even with its few minor shortcomings I still highly recommend it. Oh and if you are looking to buy the game you can get it for the PC for about 19.99 off of Amazon or any really any game store.

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