Dreamfall Chapters Book One: Reborn (PC) Review

By Adam Riley 08.01.2016 2

Review for Dreamfall Chapters Book One: Reborn on PC

It has been so long since Funcom released The Longest Journey on PC. The year was, in fact, 1999. Wow, a lot of personal memories come flooding back when thinking about it, playing through whilst in the final throes of secondary school and chatting about the vast adventure and intriguing characters during various lunch breaks. This, along with the first Broken Sword, and perhaps games like The Journey Man Project 3 and Zork Nemesis, really had the power to shape tastes in gaming forever. The pseudo-sequel, Dreamfall: The Longest Journey was not as groundbreaking, or actually a direct continuation, yet featured many familiar characters and was very impressive in its own right. Now, with the help of a Kickstarter campaign, a real sequel to Dreamfall is here, rather than The Longest Journey. Was going down the Dreamfall path a wise one by the series' director and his new team at Red Thread Games, rather than taking the fan-requested Longest Journey follow-up route?

To start with, there is no sign of April Ryan, so The Longest Journey followers may be disappointed from the off, but there is promise of the former protagonist appearing in later sections of the five-part Dreamfall Chapters episodic adventure series, so do not fear. Instead, the focus here is on Zoë Castillo and the Azadi assassin, Kian Alvane, both from the off-shoot successor to the first outing. Series faithfuls will be aware of who these are, whilst those without the foggiest will quickly become accustomed to not being given much in the way of introduction to either for now…but it is all perfectly fine, because the air of mystery and the actual strong gameplay alleviate this to a degree, making for an enticing adventure with fascinating new characters that will undoubtedly receive more in the way of story as the series progresses.

Screenshot for Dreamfall Chapters Book One: Reborn on PC

It all starts off in a strange realm called Storytime. Zoë was left in a coma state after the events of the previous journey, and now her spirit is lodged in a sort of limbo ("where all stories begin and end"). This land is fast becoming over-populated by souls drawn in by a real world device called the Dream Machine that allows people to go into a deep sleep and share dreams with one another, with the technology reaching the point where movie-like dreams are being created by corporations to lure the public in. Zoë has spent her comatose time / spiritual entrapment helping people snap out of the trance-like state and re-enter their lives and forget the crazy machine, but only so much can be done in her near-enough ethereal state, especially with a larger, more ominous threat pending. Therefore, she ends up being jolted out of her coma (after a few puzzles) and commences her reintegration into the world, living in a modified Europe ('Europolis'), trying to get a normal job and stabilise her relationship with on-off boyfriend, Reza…oh, and hopefully recall what the mission given to her in Storytime was, or even what Storytime in fact is.

Screenshot for Dreamfall Chapters Book One: Reborn on PC

When transferring to her real life again, the gameplay takes a turn. In Storytime, Zoë is able to use other-worldly abilities, like shining a light on objects, using deep thought penetration to work through issues at hand, or even slow time. These all disappear when escaping that space, with a more traditional point-and-click approach being implemented from then onwards (actual walking is done via a controller or keyboard commands, but objects are still interacted with using the age-old, tried-and-tested mechanic). In-between Zoë's parts, there is a break where Kian is brought into the mix, in the totally different setting of Arcadia (the land from Dreamfall: The Longest Journey), with players tasked with breaking him out of captivity by finding items that can be either used directly to unlock gates to his final destination of the roof, or combining numerous objects to craft something that is eventually of use. Through this section, key decisions need to be made that adjust the story further on - put someone out of his misery quickly or not, exact revenge on a person that previously caused ill fortune to befall Kian or show mercy, and so on. This is one of the most intriguing parts of Dreamfall Chapters and will play a significant role in how events transpire further on in the series.

Screenshot for Dreamfall Chapters Book One: Reborn on PC

After the brief interlude to aid with Kian's 'liberation,' it is back to Ms. Castillo and her missions around the more futuristic surroundings of Europolis, with her clearly not remembering events that occurred in Storytime, yet getting wrapped up in unusual goings-on that others seemingly play no part in, which scratch away at the back of her mind, making her confused and wondering what is going on. Even therapy is not helping shed light on that nagging feeling. Again, as with Kian's section, there are several moments where decisions made will be remembered by specific characters (flirting with the therapist, perhaps, and then buying food for Reza that he specifically said he did not want…), and key interactions can have drastic consequences later on, with all choices saved for the next release, Book Two: Rebels.

It all makes for a gripping adventure, with thoughts wandering to how events will play out after the choices have been made. Along the way, some may find Dreamfall Chapters Book One: Reborn to be too wordy, but the depth of content for those wanting to hear all conversation avenues is pleasingly vast, with options to avoid a lot of the bumf if so desired. This is not quite the perfection some may have hoped, though, as some of Zoë's final objectives involve a little too much trekking back and forth around Europolis, with one particular task springing to mind as being a tad grating as no directions were given… The humour levels, intensely alluring storyline, and breathtaking presentation values, thankfully all help to brush any minor flaws well and truly under the carpet. This is just the beginning. Dreamfall Chapters is looking like being a dream come true.

Screenshot for Dreamfall Chapters Book One: Reborn on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Even after such a long wait, and with a hazy memory of the past titles, Dreamfall Chapters Book One: Reborn proves to be a major success, working just as well, in fact, as a standalone product thanks to the Story Recap option filling some blanks for newcomers and the writing being clever enough to not leave fresh faces bewildered. Smooth controls, stunning visuals, and fantastic audio direction all make for a special adventure, albeit one with one or two fetch-quests too many included. Conversation threads may prove too wordy for some, yet others that are eager to get lost in the lore, and learn more about the world they are stepping into, will be exhilarated. This is definitely not for those wanting to rush through to the end; taking the time to savour the overall excellence of the package is ideal - feel the love that has been poured into it, and get ready for Book Two: Rebels.

Developer

Red Thread Games

Publisher

Red Thread Games

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

No April? Herecy!!!

Can't a fella drink in peace?
                                -Farnham

Well, I'm trying to avoid info on the other three episodes already released, but I do know the actress was signed up...so she must play some part eventually.

I've started Book Two: Rebels...

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

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