Dreamfall The Longest Journey

by Amanda
author awarded score: 70/100

Dreamfall: The Longest Journey Review
Publisher: Empire Interactive
Developer: Aspyr
Format reviewed: PC
Reviewed by: Colin and Amanda

After the critical success of the first The Longest Journey (PC-2000), publishers Fun Com felt, quite rightly, that it was a good idea to make a sequel. Fans of the previous title will not be disappointed with Dreamfall; it is an exciting and inventive game that contains aspects of the original while also displaying dramatic improvements. Both of the The Longest Journey titles cast the player as cool female characters with enough attitude and good looks to make the games not only a joy to play, but also to sit back and watch.

In Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, the player assumes the role of Zoe Castillo, a hip brunette who lives in a moderately futuristic version of Casablanca and is described as a ‘Seeker, Nomad, and Dreamer’. Zoe is going through some emotional problems and feels at war with the world. To make matters worse, it seems that our heroine is being ‘haunted’ by a young girl and a frightening message “Find April Ryan. Save her.”—which is only seen by Zoe, and only transmitted to her through technology.

The game has a very interesting and in-depth plotline and, although things are a little slow in the beginning, it becomes extremely enjoyable when the story picks up and the real action takes place. However, some of the action requires fighting; this is an aspect of the game that proves less than desirable. The camera angles are quite poor throughout the game and when Zoe’s life depends on the outcome of combat it can become increasingly frustrating. Although fighting is a fairly integral part of the game, when you get used to the terrible collision detection the confrontations don’t seem to hinder the gameplay all that much.

A great aspect of The Longest Journey is that there are multiple outcomes and you have to choose very carefully how you interact with other characters; for example, you can choose to be aggressive or calm, snappy or patient, etc. The choices are yours and the reactions of NPCs change depending on the way you handle different situations. Another brilliant aspect of the game is that, apart from Zoe, you also play as 2 other game characters; the first of whom is April Ryan, who is described as ‘Rebel, Emissary, and Chosen’ and is a character with a destiny that simply cannot be evaded. For those who haven’t played the original The Longest Journey, April Ryan was its main character. Then there’s the mysterious Kian, a deadly individual described as ‘Soldier, Apostle, and Assassin’, whose religious faith is shaken to its very foundations through the course of the game.

The graphics in Dreamfall are fairly impressive, although to get the full effect of the game you need to have a great computer and a very powerful graphics card. Though, that said, even without these top-of-the-range peripherals the visuals and story are still thoroughly enjoyable. The story is intense and, like many other videogames that see governments playing an important part, Dreamfall has its fair share of conspiracy and lies.

The EYE (the world’s government), has a very important role in the game and they are in constant pursuit of Zoe—much like George Orwell’s 1984 where “Big Brother is watching”. This game is original in that it portrays futuristic elements; for example, when playing as Zoe, you have a fury interactive A.I. pet called Wonkers, and public transportation hovers on air rather than rolls on wheels. However, there are also fantasy aspects, whereupon you can play as 2 other characters, and swords, magic, and spells also play a huge part.

Another enjoyable and ‘real’ aspect of Dreamfall: The Longest Journey is its voice talent. Everyone that you choose to speak to or encounter has an amazing voice. The accents range from proper English to cockney, from American to Jamaican—and all are brilliantly portrayed. Not once do you find yourself irritated by repetitive and unbelievable voices. All the chat is subtitled and it is also all recorded textually in a handy notebook, which all 3 of the playable characters have. This is very useful as it’s necessary to remember things that people have said, and even the names of people your characters have only met once during a brief encounter.

In-game puzzles are evident throughout Dreamfall, but they aren’t particularly challenging and can be easily conquered. The puzzles generally require the deciphering of a code or the direct use (or combination and use) of inventory items. However, the game does make a habit of sending you on tedious treasure hunts where you are required to speak to various NPCs in scattered locations. You will find that Dreamfall with have you running around in circles, going from character to character collecting information, items, and clues.

Essentially, Dreamfall: The Longest Journey is a point-and-click, action-adventure told through a third-person perspective. Although this is the case, the game is very effective and enjoyable to both play and watch. The adult and colourful language used by game characters does add a realistic and fun element. The surroundings and computer art is stunning, although it can lose its appeal when you have seen it 10 times whilst running back and forth collecting information.

I really did enjoy playing this title and, although its gameplay can be a little tedious at times, the compelling story kept me pushing onward. The coupling of different worlds and multiple playable characters across both futuristic and fantasy settings also proves to be an excellent combination. There did seem to be a few frustrating instances, but there was a huge sense of satisfaction when getting past repetitive moments in the game. Dreamfall does build upon the first Longest Journey title, but it perhaps doesn’t hold its own for new players to the series. Although it does continue where the previous title left off, it is not essential to have played it. Adventure gamers will not be disappointed.

Thumbs up – this title makes use of more than one kick-ass girl character and it is done with style and not just sex appeal. I thoroughly enjoyed the crossover worlds of fantasy and future.

Thumbs down – the camera angles in Dreamfall are terrible but I overcame this difficulty with a lot of patience. Less patient gamers may have a problem though. Also, the game can be very repetitive at times, but you will feel extremely satisfied when all deeds are done.