Fans of the original The Longest Journey have been patiently waiting for six long years for the sequel, Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, to arrive. While the first game was a PC-only title, the second game of the series makes its way to the Xbox, perhaps in an attempt to broaden the game’s audience. The original was a straightforward point-and-click adventure with a good story and creative environments, but while Dreamfall retains some of those elements, it also includes some questionable action sequences that feel tacked-on to appease the console and action-gamer crowd. But the tactic doesn’t work.
If you didn’t play the original The Longest Journey you won’t feel totally lost, because it features a new story with new characters. If you have played the original, though, it will provide you with some valuable back-story for the game’s somewhat-confusing plot. Several of the original game’s characters also make cameos in Dreamfall, but again, they’ll only be recognized by those who played the original game.
As far as the playable characters, Dreamfall: The Longest Journey features three, each of whom you control at different times throughout the game. Zoe Castillo, whose ex-boyfriend disappeared while tracking a big story, sets out to find him and becomes entangled in complex and sometimes confusing mystery. April Ryan, who returns from the original game but now resides in a magical parallel world, is the second character, while Kian, a religious warrior, is the third. As expected from an adventure game, Dreamfall features lots of puzzle-solving such as finding items to open doors and activate machinery. The problem is that these puzzles have been simplified so much that you don’t feel much sense of accomplishment afterwards. And when you come upon some of the game’s more difficult puzzles, the ones that might give you that sense of accomplishment, characters pop up to actually guide you through the challenge step by step.
OK, so considering this is an adventure game on a console, it might have sounded like a good idea to add some fighting and stealth sequences to spice things up a bit. Too bad they turned out being such a mess. On the fighting front, you have a weak attack, strong attack and block, but there’s a delay between pushing each button and the character’s attacks, which leaves the controls feeling very non-responsive. To make matters worse, the fighting sequences all come down to using one tactic, as the enemy will block your attacks so you just mash on the strong attack button until the bad guy dies. The stealth portions of the game are just as simple. As long as you avoid stepping on broken glass and keep out of enemies’ direct line of sight you can sneak through every area. This is no Splinter Cell; you can’t use shadows to hide, nor devices to sneak, nor any special moves. The combat and stealth elements could have added some variety to the gameplay. Instead they are an annoyance and should have been left out of the final product.
If you can make it past the horrendous “action” elements and sometimes overly simplified puzzles in Dreamfall, you just might enjoy the deep storyline and character interactions. Considering those snafus, though, this game is really only recommended to fans of the original who want to continue the story where it left off. Everyone else can move along, there’s not much to be seen here.
- Gameplay: 4
- Probably the worst combat controls for an Xbox game. Ever.
- Graphics: 7
- Some interesting locations to be seen, but nothing outside the “average” realm.
- Sound: 7
- Decent voice-overs, and, um, that’s about it.
- Replay: 1
- If you manage to make it through the game once, there’s absolutely no reason to play it again.
- Overall: 5.5
- Only for diehard fans of the original.
— Randie Kilgore