Ever since Mass Effect popularised the multiple choice conversation trees, games like The Walking Dead and many others from TellTale have really pushed the boundaries of narrative based adventures. Some prove to be successful and define the genre, whereas others fall flat and are forgotten. Dreamfall Chapters is a continuation of “The Longest Journey” saga and makes its debut on the PS4; will it be remembered or just become a fleeting dream?
The game is split into 5 books and the majority of the story covers Zoe and Kian, both very different people, based in very different settings. Their characters are miles apart and funnily enough the locations they’re set in are parallel worlds. Zoe awakens from a coma and lives in a futuristic city in the 23rd century and has a very peculiar and secretive background that is slowly revealed. However Kian lives in a more medieval environment, and it is clear from the outset he has committed many atrocities, but some justifiable.
Dialogue trees are presented with floating text options, when highlighted your characters ponders the reasoning behind choosing this option. It is a great and elegant way to help you make the correct choice. A lot of time this reveals some insight for people your character knows, sometimes as simple as the food habits of a loved one. Certain decisions even bring up the option to see what other people who played the game selected, and this is a great way to walk the path few have trodden on. It can be a little dangerous though, as I made a choice that I usually wouldn’t simply to fall on the side of the eight percent that selected it.
Items you can interact with feature an icon that only appears when it is in your eye line and when you get close enough you can touch it. Items picked up go into your inventory, which is a bit simple but allows for examining and combining them to solve puzzles.
It is no doubt that the story is the best part of this adventure, and I would be foolish to ruin it, so there will be no spoilers here. Voice-acting is superb, and breathes life into the characters. It is a shame that the facial animations and the body language aren’t portrayed as well as the voice acting. Characters look a little dead even though the voice actor is giving the performance of a lifetime. The two don’t match, and dampen the experience.
The pacing is a little odd too. I will commend the way the game teaches you its controls and how it drip-feeds you puzzles in the right way, and as the game progresses, it layers on the difficulty. However, the complexity of the later puzzles, moreover the size of the environments truly slow down the pace of progression, and delay the most enjoyable part of the game. This is made worse because the developers chose to reduce any type of hand-holding, but in the end all this leads to is looking online for the answers, only to find out you simply didn’t stand close enough to an object that could be interacted with. This slow-down of pace is what kills the story, you want to find out more, but some tedious puzzles will slow you down. An objective marker could have completely solved this.
Dreamfall Chapters is full of this, great moments followed by frustrations. Some things are great and others are not. Great voice acting, poor load times, some good puzzles and others bad. A pair of brilliantly diverse worlds coupled with terribly slow walking/running speed. The list goes on, but the bottom line is the story is good, and it is a budget title. A 20-30 hour game that has some replay-ability, especially if you want to choose some alternate conversation options to see where they lead.
- Replay Value