Dreamfall: The Longest Journey
Longest Journey or Dreamfall?
We live in a reboot society. Movies, games and even books have been redesigned the way we consider new or modern. You want Pride and Prejudice with zombies? No problem. The question should be, does it add some meaning to the story if we add this or remove that? The question is surely ommited in thinking heads of many geniuses, no doubt.
But enough of the bile. Dreamfall is peculiar game. If you remember the original adventure then you might know, that it was really kind of spectacular. It brought interesting story, non-stereotypical female figure and somewhat cliché but still charming fairy-tale setting. When I first finished the story, it made an impact on me. Something shifted in my brain. I liked circulation of the ending.
But somehow, Funcom deemed necessary to break the circularity. Well, that is harsh. It is more like they decided to make the grand story even bigger, right? That is The Longest Journey: Dreamfall. And I am here to talk about this old game. It is interesting, because it made me question the adventure genre in games. This is not a proper review, it is more a meditation on a position toward adventure games in the past and now.
If you the history of electronic gaming is nothing new for you, then you know, that the adventures as a genre, i.e. the point and click adventures of the old ages are almost extinct in mainstream gaming community. Well, we thought so. Lately it was some sort of resurfacing in this genre. Sometimes it because of revolutionary narrative (Indigo Prophecy, Heavy Rain), sometimes it was pillaging of the nostalgia. But that aside, adventure games are still here. So what is the deal with them? Can't just people acknowledge that adventure games were made because of morbid constrictions of programming and software wizardry? Just put something on something and combine that with that and because of that you have now more points (Sierra games know what I am talking about). A glorified choose your adventure you might say.
But that is not the case. There are brilliant adventures, I am sure of it. Adventures need enormous balance of storytelling and gameplay. The balance is critical. When you make an interactive movie, then nobody will even consider it a game. When the story is bad, then why even bother with adventure game, where story is something special (sadly endemic to adventure games), a good story.
This journey is really long...
Original Longest Journey is a good example of well-made game. It has story that makes you wanna know more about conclusions of April Ryan, who is "just a normal girl." Thus you can even easily project to her feelings. But it can even challenge your logical and constructive aspects of your brain and it is not insulting (crazy combinations from Monkey Island). It is still a game. You can't really fail, but you feel like it matters what you do.
In Dreamfall, you can fail. But at the same time, it feels like it doesn't matter. You move from place to place. There is no real challenge. You force into game elements from other games that feel really out of place (stealth) in this game. It makes it very unfocused. During Dreamfall I had a feeling that I am really doing nothing for the victory of both heroines. It is a let's play, where you have to click from time to time to continue the footage.
The story ends in cliffhanger. The April is hanging to this very day. That is sad. As you can see, the story that made perfect sense to me and was charmingly circular is now a dead-end. And no continuation to this very day. Bad luck or good luck, hard to decide.