Dreamfall Chapters Book Three: Realms (PC) Review

By Adam Riley 10.01.2016

Review for Dreamfall Chapters Book Three: Realms on PC

It cannot be helped. "Filler content" or dips in quality, that is, during episodic stories, with the overarching tale being laid out by the development team beforehand, and then the actual breaking it up into easily digestible bites being trickier that originally foreseen. With Dreamfall Chapters, however, that was not quite the case on the story front, since Dreamfall Chapters Book One: Reborn was the perfect way to re-introduce the world to Zoë Castillo, heroine of 2006's Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, whilst Dreamfall Chapters Book Two: Rebels did the same for Kian Alvane, a former Azadi Apostle now turned rebel ally. The problem actually lay with the puzzles and general layout of the land not being anywhere near as exciting in Rebels as it was in Reborn, almost as if the focus on story was so high, to prevent a dip, that other elements slipped a bit. With Red Thread Games' adventure reaching the third of five planned releases, in the form of Book Three: Realms, it is now or never, as any grace built up during the first episode and initial half of the second, is due to run out fast if the quality does not improve…

Thankfully, Book Three: Realms blows the previous two out of the water, with smart puzzles, easy navigation, more of the epic story that has already proved itself to be thrilling in its delivery, and even the visuals look to have been touched up slightly. The action is not thick and fast from the get-go, though. In fact, it is quite a sedate introduction. There was an odd cameo of a baby at the end of Book One: Reborn, and the scene returns to that same unusual setting for the commencement of Realms, albeit with the baby, Saga, now having grown a few years older and her mother no longer being around - dead or vanished, her whereabouts are left purposely ambiguous. It is not the strongest of openings, since Saga must merely trundle round, locating eight of her scrawled drawings, all hidden across the various rooms of her house, in oft-surprising locations, before needing to place them on her bedroom wall in the correct chronological order to tell a story that will definitely be familiar to fans of the older games in this series. Then there is a twist…and darkness fades, with the setting changing to that of Marcuria, the medieval town where Kian Alvane and his fellow rebels are at work against the Azadi soldiers that are eager to rid the land of 'Magicals.' The mystery and intrigue continue…

It was not touched upon in the reviews of the previous outings, but there is actually a surprising level of humour amidst all of the heavy talking - awkward flirtation moments, numerous comical retorts and mistakes arising during conversation threads, the game actually having a poke at players for certain decisions that do not really hold as much substance as perhaps expected, and even a scene with a goat that is totally misconstrued. For all of its meaty content and hard-hitting narrative, the lighter tone that sneaks in once in a while helps keep everything feeling fresh, and definitely aids with relating to the characters at hand, rather than just the two main leads.

Screenshot for Dreamfall Chapters Book Three: Realms on PC

The humour really does lift the overall experience, but what was lacking in Book Two was a cohesiveness, with Kian's early moments being far more entertaining than the back-and-forth quests in the futuristic land of Propast. Disparity between the two parts thankfully did not overshadow the whole adventure, but it did cause some concerns. Not to worry here, though, as there are plenty of smart conundrums faced during the Azadi rebel's section, even more so than before, and the old grey matter is put to more use this time round before some shocking revelations come forth and, finally, Zoë comes back into the picture. Going off the last book, "Uh-oh" might be the first thought, especially as when she awakens, the first actions are to keep interacting with a pan to stir her eggs and choose whether to add salt or pepper, before finally placing the plateful on her table, and then sitting and starting to eat. Mundane simply does not cover it, and when the power goes out and Zoë must slowly trek around the Europolis city, with even more restrictions in place as to where to go, hopes start to sink for a revival. Then comes the bait and switch, and the whole setting gets up-ended, with Zoë being transported to a section of the city never before seen, complete with some extremely well thought-out puzzles that require a bit of mixing and matching, trial and error, yet are not illogical in the slightest, meaning that when the solution is arrived upon, that sense of satisfaction, rather than bewilderment, returns with full force.

Realms is a breath of fresh air, and is definitely a sign of Red Thread Games getting well and truly into its stride, and maybe even listening to feedback from the previous two books (that issue of the 'Goals' menu not being as clear as it should be, for instance? Rectified here). There are still some key choices to be made, and plenty of consequences carried over from Reborn and Rebels, yet it is the diversity of the action involved, tied in with the continued deep, twisting and turning storyline, that keeps gratification levels extremely high. Not satisfied with giving Zoë a new setting within Europolis, though, she is also thrown into something even more different as story threads start to converge in this halfway point of the Dreamfall Chapters saga. Events are heating up quickly now, and Book Four: Revelations is awaiting…

Screenshot for Dreamfall Chapters Book Three: Realms on PC

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Dreamfall Chapters Book Three: Realms manages to blow the previous two chapters completely out of the water, upping the ante in the story stakes, building more of a connection between players and the characters within, whilst also introducing some highly engaging new puzzles across both new and familiar settings, fixing any of the niggling issues found in Book One: Reborn and Book Two: Rebels. This is what fans were waiting for - and it can only get better from this point onwards. Roll on Book Four: Revelations

Developer

Red Thread Games

Publisher

Red Thread Games

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

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   

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