A great start... but where's the rest of it?,
This review is from: Dreamfall: The Longest Journey ( XPLOSIV PC DVD ROM) (Video Game)
I have just this minute finished playing this game and felt compelled to write a review, which means it was either incredibly bad or outstandingly great. Luckily it was leaning more towards the latter.
You play (mostly) as Zoe Castillo, an ordinary girl living in the world of Stark until her best friend and previous lover goes mysteriously missing and a small girl starts talking to her through screens, telling her to "Find April Ryan. Save April Ryan." Zoe is pulled into a dangerous conspiracy and occasionaly finds herself in the mysterious world of Arcadia. There are two other characters which drive the plot through Arcadia (April Ryan and Aposle Kian) but it's easily Zoe's story in both worlds that prevails.
The gameplay is usually quite simple and involves moving around generously sized hub areas, interacting with characters and objects in the world to solve puzzles or obtain information to progress. Simply being in any of these areas is a joy and the relitively simple errands don't spoil this. Conversations usually involve chosing certain topics which can effect the outcome of the conversation.
The story is complex and there are more characters than you can shake a handful of sticks at, each as intetresting and as engaging as the last. Who couldn't love the rougish Crow? The voice acting is patchy, sometimes amazing and other times feeling like the actor is simply reading a shopping list out, especially in one key scene near the end which required the most emotion. Character animation is pretty good and I have certainly seen current gen games with worse lip syncing than this. Every part of the game is a delight to look at with some truly inspired level and character designs. The music is beautiful and fits the game really well.
However Dreamfall has its flaws, flaws that would break most other games, but despite these little hiccups this game doesn't seem to suffer so much for them.
The gameplay sections can be quite short and the conversation/cutscene parts quite lengthy. However none of the cutscenes or conversations outstay their welcome, with most characters having something interesting to say. I personally found myself wanting to hear more but some players may not like the top heavy exposition/gameplay structure.
Combat is terrible! There are only about 4 or 5 occasions when combat is needed and this is usually only against 2 people. But there is no combat tutorial, the player being thrown in to simply guess the buttons needed. Controls aside, the combat is awkward and feels a little wooden, with the other opponant waiting patiently for their turn to attack it all feels a little... scripted.
The storyline and the world Dreamfall is set in is top notch and incredibly detailed. However it doesn't seem to come to any sort of end. Plot lines are not resolved by the end of the game and a lot of details and characters are abandoned for the sake of finishing Zoe's overall quest, which also has some major loose ends! It is hinted at the end that there is more of the story to tell, possibly in a future game, but there are so many unanswered questions by this point that I was feeling a little betrayed all the same.
Overall this game is definately worth buying. I enjoyed being in the worlds of Stark and Arcadia. April, Kian and Zoe's stories and journeys are all interesting and keep the flow of the story going by alternating between them. The gameplay can be lacking, particularly towards the end but there was enough for me to do without my attention waning. An excellent story that I hope will be followed up by the soon to be upcoming (hopefully) Dreamfall Chapters.