It’s usually a compliment to say something is unique. In a tidal wave of AAA titles doing the same shtick with the same character archetypes and cliches, it’s an amazing feeling to say that something stands out. But then again, something can stand out just for being good. Dreamfall Chapters is arguably in this category.
The first thing to note in the game is the graphics. The game itself runs on Unity engine, which of course means that graphics may have to go to the backburner. Unfortunately, as a result, the graphics look like something that have wouldn’t have looked out of place in 2007. Sorrowful dialogues mean nothing when the only thing I can focus on are the chattering teeth and vacant, Stepford smiles. Every character save for the protagonists runs into this problem at least once. The beautiful cityscapes are bogged down at times, in part because of everything feeling cluttered. I found myself lost in the cities several times within the story, which is never a good thing, to be honest.
The game mainly takes place in 2 different settings. It takes place in Arcadia, which is a mystical world ruled by a group known as the Azadi, as a rebellion blooms and Stark, a futuristic city where the EYE, a surveilling police force, whose presence grows by the minute. Personally, I found Stark to be a better location, as it had more interesting puzzles and characters.
The puzzles in the game are hit or miss. Some puzzles take some time and thinking to do, such as stealing some firecrackers with the help of a thief, while other puzzles are just horrid messes that will make you scream. If I never see a drawing in a video game ever again, I’ll be happy, let’s leave it at that. The algae puzzle was surprisingly fun, though, even if the solution was a tad hard to figure out.
The characters are where the game really shines. Dreamfall takes place in 2 settings, providing a vast variety of characters. Zoe, is probably the most interesting character. I admittedly haven’t played the original Dreamfall, but the writing she’s given was spot on, and overall, she’s one of the best characters I’ve seen in an adventure game in awhile. She kind of made me want to play the original. She’s no Lee Everett, but she’s still pretty damn good. Speaking of Lee, Likho (played by Lee’s voice actor, Dave Fennoy), is pretty badass. The performance definitely stands out, considering the somewhat lackluster voice actors in the Arcadia section. If I never hear Enu’s voice again, I’ll die happy. Also, I need Kidbot in my life. Right now. At this second.
The game does fall into the typical pitfalls of the traditional episodic adventure games of today. Ever since Telltale’s mantra of ‘Every choice matters’ came about, every adventure game has tried to imitate it. Unfortunately, not every choice matters in games like these. Several choices felt meaningless within the game. Hell, one of the ‘choices’ was about choosing food for Zoe’s boyfriend, and it just felt out of place in a game where there are major decisions being made in each chapter. Thankfully, there were enough good choices in the game to counteract the ones that weren’t so good.
The soundtrack was pretty good, for what it’s worth. It had a great amount of ambience to it, and thankfully, it’s on Spotify. Call it a nitpick, but the framerate was really inconsistent. Sometimes the game would slow to a crawl while running, and in 2017, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Dreamfall Chapters does stand out in a sea of episodic games, and save for a few technical problems and questionable design choices, it’s a good game.
Dreamfall Chapters is a solid 8/10.