Wednesday, 24 May 2017 20:34

REVIEW: Dreamfall Chapters (Xbox One)

Written by Staceface_mayhem
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Now, playing a game in a series of games, that you have never heard of before might I add, was either going to be simply and bluntly put it, a turning point or an absolute train wreck. Let’s see how my crazy little endeavor went....

Dreamfall Chapters isn’t a game/game per say, but more of an interactive 3D story developed by Red Thread Games and Funcom. Developed with the help of the crowdfunded ‘Kickstarter’ this journey relies on exploring the futuristic open world of 2020, solving puzzles, engaging in the lives of other characters but beautifully, the most simplistic but also hardest of all... discovering who you are as a person.

OK, I may have lied a bit with that last sentence. You play mostly as Zoe and Kian, and you must discover who you are as either person. Quite easy as they are more similar than they first appear.

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Awaking from a coma from the mythical Storytime land where Zoe can manipulate dreams, Zoe must face her old life back in the morbid but teaming with life, dystopian, cyberpunk city of Europolis. She must face her on against off again boyfriend, a mean but relatable boss, political alignment and most concerningly the motives behind the company developing a nation of lucid dream addicts. Meanwhile in Arcadia, yet another magical world, Kian is on his own voyage of discovery, as he battles evil empires and becomes entangled in the motives of rebellion groups. Two very different worlds eventually come together, and that is the real story.

Now much like a pubescent teen, I very much so have complicated, confused and mixed feelings with Dreamfall Chapters. Firstly, I didn’t really feel invested in the story for a while, as it gives little to no real detail of the events prior to this game. Upon research, there was epic proportions of events that led up to Zoe’s coma that isn’t alluded to in the slightest. It is kind of hard to care for some parts of the goings on in the narrative, if you really aren’t sure why they are happening.

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In the strict contrast, however, the fleshed out, in-depth characters and their developments really felt like they had a purpose, and once I felt disinterested from the story, someone would say or do something I could relate to, and BAM I would be sucked straight back in again. Don’t get me wrong the story is brilliant even as a stand-alone, however the disengaged spots pulled me out from ever being fully devoted.

Now, I would normally type a long winded, lack luster (because I hate writing about gameplay too in-depth, but apparently it is my job ** insert angry, boss voice) paragraph about gameplay, but like I said before it’s not really a physically action-packed game. The only real action is in cut scenes you have triggered by interacting with someone or something. The game is a bit void of telling you anything really, plot and gameplay, as it took me a good hour to realise I could upgrade to slowly running instead of walking everywhere, as for some reason I couldn’t remember ever being told how or in fact I could. (I must have missed a ridiculously fast prompt at the start that is never mentioned again). Much of the game is interacting with objects with a tiny finicky cross hair, and using or combining with them to solve sometimes simple, hard or nonsensical puzzles or character problems. Solving some problems or certain conversations align your character to a certain course, so choose your decisions wisely as consequences are bound to hit you eventually. The gameplay might be simple stuff, but that is what you need in a game that makes your mind mull over so many psychological choices and touching issues playing out in this tale.

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Despite copping sound flack online, visually I believe the piece is stunning. Despite being quite cell shady the cartoony style somewhat juxtapositions the stark, sadness of the reality they live in. Yes, when ported for console they could have completely overhauled the graphics and gone the realistic route, however I felt this would distract from the story that is being told. The bright, beaming, neon lights high above in the skylines of Europolis are a stark contrast to the dingy, dark allies filled with lifeless, dream addicts.

I was amazed and eventually very grateful when I opened the game case and found it also included a soundtrack disc. It was definitely a pleasant surprise. Not often do I really, I mean really, notice the music in the background of the game. Once I began playing, and very early on playing, I noticed the melodic piano really suited and effected the mood of the game perfectly. Each song for each moment had been tee-ed up to create an atmosphere that certainly in some instances sent shivers down my spine. Well played Simon Poole, well played (the composer.. also music pun ). Alas, when I put the disc into my Xbox it wouldn’t work in the Media player. Epic sad face. Download the Audio CD Player app.  Another sad face. Have a crack in the car CD player... great success.

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Overall, Dreamfall Chapters is an multi-layered story focused on self-discovery., after all don’t most of us go on this journey at some point in our lives. The relationships you build with the characters are very memorable, despite the lack of direction. While it mostly appears being very black and white, Kian being different to Zoe, Arcadia to Europolis, their own trials and tribulations, even my own views on this game, everything eventually becomes like the shade of grey; interconnected.

Now reflecting on my opening statement, was it a train wreck? Absolutely not, in fact I’m now very curious of the previous game. Was it a turning point? For a 3D interactive story it was, will I endeavor to play the obvious next in the series? Possibly.

Additional Info

  • Review Score: 4.0 / 5.0
  • Release Date: Out Now
  • Platform: PC, PS4, XBOX ONE
  • Developer: Red Thread Games, Funcom
  • Publisher: Red Thread Games, Deep Silver, Funcom
  • Genre: Action / Adventure, Misc, Puzzle