The audio is another area where Dreamfall really excels. The voice acting is well done, even in the cases where the dialogue trips over itself a bit. The mostly ambient techno music tracks fit the mood of the ‘Stark’ world very well, while the more melodious tracks played in ‘Arcadia’ lend themselves to the medieval theme of the world of magic. The occasional track with lyrics fit well, and mostly works within cut scenes to help set the mood. The only issue with the audio is that only two sentences are loaded at a time, so there are sometimes strange pauses in conversation while the next section of dialog is loaded. This is more than made up for by the wit and occasional humor in the story (including a joke about everyone’s favorite hobbits that both took me by surprise and made me laugh out loud).
The in game controls are fairly standard and intuitive, with the only issue being the camera. The camera is always a 3rd person view and is manually adjustable. The camera also will auto adjust to always follow the primary character from behind. This adjustment is sometimes a little slow, so you wind up having to adjust it manually, which can be an issue during combat.
The plot has a good pacing to it, and reveals the storyline in a decent time. Total game play took me about 16 hours from start to finish, with a couple of hours of re-exploration following completion, to make sure I really didn’t miss anything.
The part that got me about this game, is that when it was over my feeling of accomplishment of finishing a puzzle based adventure game was tempered by the fact that I don’t really feel I accomplished much. The game ends essentially where it starts, with the plot developments along the way simply filling in the back-story as to how Zoe wound up in the coma. In addition, there are several characters who are partially developed, but do not receive any sort of resolution at the end of the game. This was particularly frustrating, as it made me feel that I had wasted my time in working with the characters who are not further developed, even though the game forced me to use them in specific sections of the plot.
Overall the game is an enjoyable experience, and while the ending left me wanting for the next game in the series to see how things wind up for Zoe, April and ‘The Prophet’ (the 3rd playable character who begins to undergo a life altering change in beliefs right as the game ends), I just don’t know if I’m willing to spend another 20 hours playing a game that I might feel angry about when I finished. Then again, so many games we play these days are so generic that they elicit no emotion at all. So playing a game that brings out something as strong as anger may not be a bad thing after all.
Dreamfall: The Longest Journey is mostly successful at combining puzzles and adventure gaming in a single title. Recommended for fans of the original The Longest Journey. Not recommended for fans of games that end things up in a nice tiny package.
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