Dreamfall Chapters: Book Four Takes You to Magical Lands

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Up until this point, Dreamfall Chapters has taken place almost entirely in two sprawling cities, one in a fantasy world and one in a sci-fi world. In Book Four: Revelations we finally leave the cities and see some of the stunning locales the fantasy world has to offer.

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Illustration for article titled Dreamfall Chapters: Book Four Takes You to Magical Lands

When we last left our heroine Zoë, she had arrived in the fantasy world of Arcadia and had been captured by the rebels. After clearing up that little misunderstanding, Zoë sets about trying to unravel the ominous clues she has been given and then heads out into the wilds of Arcadia to awaken the first dreamer and hopefully save all reality.

While the early books of Dreamfall Chapters felt like somewhere between a slow build and treading water, Revelations plows full steam ahead toward the ending. Zoë covers a ton of ground in this outing, going to locations new and old, visiting with old friends from the original The Longest Journey, and even chatting with a god or two.

Illustration for article titled Dreamfall Chapters: Book Four Takes You to Magical Lands

Kian’s side of the story, on the other hand, involves his infiltrating the island concentration camp that the magic races have been imprisoned in. In Revelations, the Azadi are shown to have gone full-Nazi. They even have their own Dr. Mengele overseeing the whole camp—who happens to be a Kian fangirl in a disturbing twist.

As with the last chapter, the game’s dialogue (outside of young Saga’s, anyway) is the game’s high point. And while there are numerous minor graphical glitches—awkward character movements and clipping errors—the characters’ interactions tend to overshadow these problems.

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Illustration for article titled Dreamfall Chapters: Book Four Takes You to Magical Lands

Enu remains adorkable as she and Zoë bond, and Kian and Liko have the opportunity for a heart to heart (based on your choices). But it is Crow that once again steals the show with his comedic dialogue. His banter with Zoë, as well as Crow’s constant snide observations, are a much needed facet of the story. Zoë needs someone to play off of—to be the straight man to—and Crow brings levity to the drama and creates a sense of fun adventure. But even Crow is granted one solid dramatic scene when he finally learns about the death of April Ryan back in Dreamfall.

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Illustration for article titled Dreamfall Chapters: Book Four Takes You to Magical Lands

Speaking of April Ryan, Revelations finally addresses April’s true fate. While told in a cryptic fashion, thanks to Abnaxus’s unique way of viewing time, those invested in the The Longest Journey’s protagonist will be happy to know there are more than a few answers to be found in this book.

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On the gameplay side, your choices from past episodes start to affect the game in massive ways—i.e., based on what you have chosen, main characters can and will die.

Illustration for article titled Dreamfall Chapters: Book Four Takes You to Magical Lands
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More than that, the game enjoys playing on the fact that you, the player, know things that have happened that neither Zoë nor Kian do. From back in Dreamfall, we know that there are mysteries in Brian Westhouse’s life—ones that now cast his actions in a diabolical light. So how you react to him becomes one of meta-gaming. Zoë really has no reason not to trust Brian as he has helped her in the past, but you as the player do. The question is, do you trust your gut or Zoë’s—and is the game actively trying to trick you?

Illustration for article titled Dreamfall Chapters: Book Four Takes You to Magical Lands
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As is expected for a game in this genre, there are several more puzzles in Revelations. They are, in most cases, relatively straight forward: There is an obvious impediment and a solution to it in your nearby surroundings. One puzzle even sees the return of Zoë’s dream powers from the first book in a pseudo-boss battle—though I have to admit, I have no idea how I solved it (which is a bit vexing). If there is one theme to the puzzles in Revelations, it is to remember to look up, down, and behind you for solutions.

Revelations ends with an interlude and our third visit to the house between worlds. No longer a little girl, Saga is now 14; and her solitary existence, her father’s overprotectiveness, and her general teenage rebellion are all coming to a head.

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Illustration for article titled Dreamfall Chapters: Book Four Takes You to Magical Lands

This interlude also contains the single best puzzle of the entire The Longest Journey series of games. To escape the house, Saga must find three magical seals and break them. To break them, she must sift through fragments of her father’s memories, selecting the correct ones to break the seal.

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While the puzzle can certainly be solved through simple trial and error, what’s great about the puzzle is that it is a thematic one. Not only is it a listening puzzle—which is rare to begin with—but it requires you to digest what each memory is about and find the ones that share a common theme as well. On top of that, the memories provide a lot of backstory about Saga’s early life, meaning the puzzle acts as both brain teaser and exposition. It’s fantastic.

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Dreamfall Chapters: Book Four: Revelations handles its role as the penultimate chapter well. It sets up the story perfectly for its final climax with Zoë heading back to the world of science and Kian on his way to confront the masters he betrayed. Moreover, Revelations leaves hanging more than a few tantalizing questions to keep you eager to come back one last time. Who is the prophet, where does Brian’s loyalty lie, how will Saga factor in to the final act of the story, and how will your choices made so long ago affect the story’s ending?

Frankly, I can’t wait to find out.

Dreamfall Chapters: Book Four: Revelations was released on December 3, 2015.

Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

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To contact the author of this post, write to BiggestinJapan@gmail.com or find him on Twitter @BiggestinJapan.

DISCUSSION

hcd4
hcd4

Hmm, can we talk about reviews a bit? I loved The Longest Journey and think of it as one of the best adventure games ever, remarkable in that it came in a light period for this kind of work. I hated Dreamfall. Some of that was taste—I think tech/magic dichotomies are generally simplisitcally played out and it’s a pet peeve. Tech isn’t just tanks, it’s probably indoor plumbing, non-owl based communication, the efficient delivery of better quality of life etc... Sorry, digression over: I thought it’s interactivity was super limited and had very little decisiveness in decision making—or even the illusion of it, which is what you really need. I remember puzzles that I saw the solutions for before the puzzles were even presented—the one market guy you can interact with, with the one item for sale, I’ll need to buy something from him? The passcode you spy from one angle, but not your character unless she spies from a specific spot. Ultimately it was the lack of resolution combined with the rest. I actually played through the game twice. The first time, I made it to a point and had to stop for an unremembered reason. I’m still more interested in the world (and I kinda liked Zoe! I kinda liked Kian! April was bleah.) than I am say, with David Cage’s creations which I also find not my cup, but are upfront about with his ideas and ambitions about gameplay. I played Dreamfall a second time when I had the chance, and I spanned the whole gamut in a couple of hours, and had apparently stopped about 20 minutes from the end. The only decision that I had missed was between two dialogue options with the same result. The ending itself—for me, even if he had managed to put out another game within a year, it would have been a disappointment. It wasn’t promoted as a piece of episodic entertainment yet.

So I’m reading a review of the<i>fourth<i> episode of Dreamfall Chapters that describes the first three as treading water—and damn, can we be a bit more critical? I don’t mean harsh, but I think this type of thing gets by on good faith and good will more than it should. I’ll give Dreamfall Chapters credit for not charging individually—you have to purchase the full season, right? I think there’s a space between this sucks and let’s keep going! The recent review of Just Cause 3, where the reviewer wanted to give a qualified yes for what it might become—no! You get points for what’s released, not what comes next. It still didn’t get a no, and just playable is enough to not get a no—and then Mad Max got one, a game whose singular sin seemed to be “not innovative” but not actually riddled with bugs?

I understand the reviewers are individuals, and this one isn’t egregious in the least, just a title that hits close to my heart—the disappointment of a fan rather than a neutral observer—but the flip side of personal taste reviews is a new baseline at every read.