Dreamfall's predecessor, The Longest Journey, was perhaps the last truly great point-and-click adventure of its time -- a bright spot at the end of an era. With the release of Dreamfall six years later, Funcom returns to the twin worlds of Stark and Arcadia, picking up the threads of April Ryan's journey and weaving them into a brand-new, if not entirely satisfying story.
Ten years have passed since the events of The Longest Journey. ZoŽ Castillo, a college student who lives in Stark (a futuristic vision of Earth), starts to experience strange visions of a young girl through the ubiquitous screens scattered throughout her world. These visions mark the beginning of ZoŽ's own long journey, a quest that will take her not only all over Stark, but also to Arcadia -- the magical counterpart to Stark that exists in balance with it.
It was these twin worlds that April Ryan, an art student from Stark, managed to preserve in The Longest Journey. April is back in Dreamfall, along with another character named Kian. The three compose the backbone Dreamfall's narrative, giving you the opportunity to play as each in the course of the story. The multiple perspectives allow for greater depth, though shifts between characters can be abrupt at times.
However, it makes no practical difference what character you are playing, as in any given moment as they all are controlled exactly the same. In a departure from its predecessor, you control ZoŽ and company in a three-dimensional environment rather than the flat world of the typical point-and-click adventure. The change makes no material difference, save from having new controls to master, as it is easy to get around and important items can be easily seen, acquired, and used.
The game also has a number of fighting and sneaking scenes, which are its weakest aspects. It's possible to randomly mash the mouse buttons and win every fight, removing any challenge and making combat into a chore. Slightly better are the sneaking scenes, though you usually end up in a fight anyway because how easy it is to step on something noisy. Another complaint is the story's all-too-abrupt ending, which feels rushed and incomplete. While a sequel is in the works, it's still a bit of cheat when you seemingly finish one long journey only to realize you've just begun another.
The appeal of Dreamfall rests in its marvelously and creatively told story, its superior voice acting, and the overall atmosphere created by the game. Cerebral and dialogue-driven, Dreamfall is a delight for fans of the previous adventure, and a joy to those who can appreciate intelligent, well-designed games.
Graphics: The transition to a 3D point-and-click adventure is not without its glitches, though some of the set pieces are simply sumptuous.
Sound: Well-done indeed. Highlights include exceptional voice acting and a haunting, spare score.
Enjoyment: A fascinating journey through two well-realized worlds, Dreamfall provides riveting, if all-too-short, entertainment.
Replay Value: More replayability here than appears at first blush. It's possible to replay this and select different branches of the dialogue tree which, naturally, have different results. However, the basic current of the story is consistent no matter what choice you select.
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