Dreamfall: First Impressions

By Shamus Posted Friday Oct 6, 2006

Filed under: Game Reviews 11 comments

I’m currently playing Dreamfall, which is a decendant of the old-school adventure games like King’s Quest and Gabriel Knight. Talk to characters, find items, then use the knowledge and inventory to overcome challenges. This used to be a mainstay of PC gaming, but the genre fizzled out and died (or, if you prefer, self destructed) years ago, and adventure games are now few and very far between. I always had the feeling that adventure games weren’t living up to their potential. For the most part they were dull, tedious, and the puzzles employed demented logic designed to sell hint guides instead of tickle your brain. I always loved adventure games for what they could be.

The people behind Dreamfall evidently heard about how dissatisfied I was, because they managed to pull together a game that is everything I’ve always wanted. This is what an adventure game is supposed to be like. It’s epic. It’s witty. It has a rich palette of interesting characters. It has a complicated protagonist. It has technology, magic, fantasy worlds, and lots of mystery. The puzzles make sense and fit within the context of the game world.

There are so many wonderful images from the game it was hard to trim this selection of screencaps down to something reasonable. Just be aware that the following images barely scratch the surface of what the game has to show you.









One final note is that designer Ragnar Tornquist has his own blog, which keeps a very personal and down-to-earth tone. It makes for good reading.


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11 thoughts on “Dreamfall: First Impressions

  1. MOM says:

    This looks like MY kind of game.

  2. MOM says:

    Johnny had a sister
    whose no longer on the scene.
    she tried to wash the windows
    with trinitrotoluene

  3. What ultimately killed adventure games was that a package was released for the Mac which permitted any idiot to create a myst-a-like. A lot of them were created and released; they virtually always sucked horribly. They had lousy sound, crummy graphics, stupid and/or incoherent plot lines, and usually no redeeming features at all.

    But they could be created relatively rapidly by a very small group of people, and the market was flooded with them — resulting in a very high ratio of crap-to-quality in the genre that drove most of the customers away.

    I think the last adventure game I ever played that I thought was even remotely good was ChronoMaster, which was written by Roger Zelazny — who, for all his faults, at least knew how to tell a story. And though the solutions to some of the problems were pretty convoluted, another virtue of that game was that there were three different solutions to every problem, so you weren’t really on rails.

    It was actually the last thing Zelazny worked on; he died during the production process.

  4. Brett says:

    Did you play the prequel to this one, The Longest Journey? It’s awesome too.

  5. HC says:

    I second the recommendation of the Longest Journey.

  6. BeckoningChasm says:

    Those are indeed gorgeous, evocative images. I’m not a gamer, though–I simply don’t have huge areas of time in which to develope the skill.

  7. Acksiom says:

    Meh. I, OTOH, refer to it as “The Longest Bore-Me”. One of these days I’ll get around to writing that satirically titled essay “10 Things We Love Best Of All In Adventure Games” that’s been kicking around in my head for a while, and Longest Bore-Me will be used as an example more than once — dreadfully cliched plotting, for one thing, and for another, the endless running back and forth and back and forth again and back and forth yet again and back and forth still yet again and so on, and so on, and so on. . . .

  8. Alan De Smet says:

    If you are enjoying Dreamfall, definately go check out the previos game, The Longest Journey. It’s a little dialogue heavy, but other than that it’s a rock solid adventure game. The plot is interesting and the game ends satisfyingly.

    On the other hand, I feel bad for you that you’re playing Dreamfall. It does start wonderfully, doesn’t it? Good voice acting, intriguing tangled problems. I was engrossed right up until the end. At which point I wanted to hunt down Ragnar and kill him. By my figuring you’re faced with SIX entangled plot lines. You solve ONE of them. The game simply ends with the rest completely unresolved. Worse, it suggests that the bad guys are about to win. When I bought Dreamfall it wasn’t labelled “Part 1 of 2”. This was supposed to be a self-contained game. It failed.

    My full angry review (with spoilers) is here:

    Re: “Adventure games were killed by a glut of bad games.” That’s insane. There are gluts of bad computer RPGs made with a variety of RPG making systems, yet video game RPGs remain a strong seller. There was a glut of terrible first person shooters in the late 90s, yet FPSers never slowed down for even a second. The late 90s also brought us a glut of trashy Warcraft and Command and Conquer knockoffs, but the genre seems fine. Adventure games have been going downhill for a bit over a decade. I’m not really sure what killed them, but demand seems to have declined.

  9. Alan De Smet says:

    Enjoy Dreamfall while you can, because you’re going to be very, very disappointed. You’re going to think, “Wow, I’m about halfway through the game, I understand half of what’s going on, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming climax!” And then the game ends. The last half of the game is missing, it just ends. By my count you’ve got about six mysteries or problems to be solved. You’ll have dealt with one. You will have actively failed in the other five.

    My full review (with spoilers) if you’re curious: http://www.highprogrammer.com/alan/rants/reviews/video_games/dreamfall/index.html.

    If you enjoy Dreamfall, go back and play the previous game, The Longest Journey, it’s actually good. (It’s really, really wordy, which turns some people off).

    Steven Den Beste: A glut of crappy adventure games made with various adventure game maker tools no more killed off the adventure game genre than RPGs were killed off by the glut of crappy RPGs made with similar tools. First person shooters managed to survive the glut of crap in the late 90s. Real time strategy games survives the glut of crappy Command and Conquer and Warcraft knockoffs in the late 90s. Ultimately the adventure game market shrunk, or at least failed to grow quickly enough for publishers. Audiences were less interested in the genre, and it’s not clear why.

    (My apologies if I double posted, it doesn’t look like my previous post ever showed up.)

  10. tomas says:

    Try Siberia2 – it’s a nice adventure game.

  11. sjard says:

    Now if only they’d get off their butts and make the third (supposed to be the last) game in this series.

    The Longest Journey was a lot of fun. Dreamfall was even better, but then they left you with a cliffhanger that they said they would only finish if enough people were interested.

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