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Dreamfall: Chapters Episode One review: A long-awaited journey

Hayden Dingman | Oct. 28, 2014
It's been fifteen years since The Longest Journey came out, making it a pretty apt name for a series. A cult classic, The Longest Journey is regarded as one of the best point-and-click adventure games and best game stories of all time.In 2007 fans finally got a long-awaited sequel, known as Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, which wrapped up a few story threads from the original game while opening up even more questions.

It's been fifteen years since The Longest Journey came out, making it a pretty apt name for a series. A cult classic, The Longest Journey is regarded as one of the best point-and-click adventure games and best game stories of all time.In 2007 fans finally got a long-awaited sequel, known as Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, which wrapped up a few story threads from the original game while opening up even more questions.

And now, seven years and one successful Kickstarter campaign later, we finally get Dreamfall: Chapters, an episodic sequel that takes place immediately after the events of the 2007 game.

Was it worth the wait? Let's dig in.

What dreams are made of

Dreamfall: Chapters, like its immediate predecessor, is a third-person adventure game taking place in the dual worlds of Stark and Arcadia. Stark is a near-future reflection of our own world, heavy on science and technology, while Arcadia is a fantastical realm of magic.

In case you've forgotten the ending of the 2007 game, spoilers ahead: After discovering a global conspiracy to co-opt people's dreams, protagonist Zoe Castillo was put into a coma and left to die. April Ryan, star of the original Longest Journey, was killed. The third protagonist, Kian Alvade, was captured by his own men on charges of treason and left in a jail cell to await execution.

Yeah, The Longest Journey has never really been good at happy endings. That's part of what makes it so special — this is unapologetically an adventure game for adults. I mean, the first game (again, spoilers) leads you to believe that you're a long-awaited savior, that you're the key figure in the world's mythology, only to reveal in the last act that you were nothing but a side character the whole time. April Ryan is left with nothing, no purpose, as the game closes. It's bleak.

Dreamfall: Chapters opens with this bleakness. Zoe is still in a coma, April is still dead, and Kian still awaits execution. And while two of those things change, it remains to be seen whether they've changed for the better.

This is but the first episode of five, so it's a bit hard to get a feel for where everything's headed. The Longest Journey has never been a series content with the micro level, which is a bit funny because that's where it excels. The Longest Journey andDreamfallare fantastic at telling enormous, world-shifting epics, and I have no doubt another is in store for us with Dreamfall: Chapters.

But what makes this such a special series is the way it handles the mundane. Like The Longest Journey, Dreamfall: Chapters opens with...normality. Well, not really — there's an extended prologue/dream sequence at the beginning that aptly demonstrates how far the series has come graphically since 2007.

 

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