Dreamfall: TLJ. I’m a rubbish at it and that’s fine.
My tab key is on fire today, while I’m playing Dreamfall: The Longest Journey. In between bouts of ominous creaking metal and blood trails, I’m soaking in the soul-searching eyes of pug dogs, my medication usually reserved for when I’ve stumbled into the darker depths of the internet, in the hope that the hairs on my neck will stop bristling. When I began the second instalment to the Dreamfall saga, by Oslo-based studio, Red Thread Games, I settled myself down for a casual frolicking through the flowers, open-world style. How presumptuous of me. TLJ has funny elements, naughty suggestions and an incredibly vivid environment to explore, yet it also has intelligent themes, the ability to evoke deep emotions and, occasionally, a hint of something more sinister. Such as the Victory Hotel scene, which I imagine is taking me twice as long as the average player because I keep having to check those footsteps were in the game and not my living room.
Sadly, adventure games aren’t my forte. While my heart beats at the idea of getting immersed into mystical landscapes and carrying out my destiny, I tend to spend more time adjusting my character’s jawline and running to catch butterflies at the slightest sight of a dragon in the clouds. In short, I don’t do adventure games justice. But does that mean they’re wasted on me? Absolutely not. I’m charmed by the complex back stories of characters and quaint towns that underpin so many of the best adventures, to the point of lying awake at night imagining myself in these scenarios. Isn’t that a goal of a good game – to affect its players in a way that makes them examine their own life and values?
Despite the occasional moment reminiscent of The Ring film, TLJ is having that effect on me. In the same vein that we’re all completely hooked on New Girl, I carry on playing because I genuinely care about what will happen next to the characters. Naturally there are some features that grate on me – the limited combat seems awkwardly forced in to the storyline, which can be a tad too linear at times and not as open to choice as I’d like – but the gorgeous world design and emotive themes make up for that. I’ve heard some comments along the lines of TLJ being a slight hiccup in the saga but, as I haven’t played the first Dreamfall yet, I have nothing to compare it to and am a happy customer.
Dreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey, the finale of the saga, reached its Kickstarter goal of $850K in little over a week and is due out in November 2014. I get the impression that there will be less hand-holding, a heavier focus on puzzles rather than combat (and sneaking!) and will be more open worldy (yay!), so hopefully those who have been waiting for what feels like an eternity will be more than satisfied. The trailer for the game actually made me shed a happy tear but, then again, so did the video of puppies stuck on stairs, so maybe you should look for yourself…click the image below!
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