Dreamfall: The Longest Journey

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Dreamfall: The Longest Journey
Dreamfall cover.jpg
Developer(s) Funcom
Publisher(s)
Director(s) Ragnar Tørnquist
Designer(s) Jarl Schjerverud
Henning Solberg
Artist(s) Christer Sveen
Kjetil Hjeldnes
Writer(s) Ragnar Tørnquist
Dag Scheve
Composer(s) Leon Willett
Engine Shark 3D
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, Xbox, Xbox 360
Release date(s) Microsoft Windows
  • NA 17 April 2006
  • EU 26 May 2006
  • WW 12 January 2007 (Steam)
Xbox
  • NA 18 April 2006
  • EU 11 August 2006
  • WW 24 March 2008 (XBLA)
Genre(s) Adventure
Mode(s) Single-player
Distribution 6 CD-ROMs (PC)
1 DVD (Xbox)
Download (Steam & XBLA)

Dreamfall: The Longest Journey (Norwegian: Drømmefall: Den lengste reisen) is an adventure video game developed by Norwegian company Funcom for Microsoft Windows and Xbox platforms on April 2006. On 1 March 2007, a sequel entitled Dreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey was announced,[1] and Funcom reportedly considered the idea of a massively multiplayer online game set in the The Longest Journey universe.[2]

The game is the sequel to Funcom's The Longest Journey, released in 1999, and takes place ten years after the events of the first game. The story focuses on three characters, Zoë Castillo, April Ryan, and Kian Alvane, who live in two parallel worlds: technologically advanced Stark and magical Arcadia. April was the protagonist of the first game, while the other two are new characters. The main storyline follows Zoë, a Stark resident whose investigation of her ex-boyfriend's disappearance and other mysterious occurrences lead her to April. Meanwhile in Arcadia, April battles the villainous Empire of Azadi while Kian, an elite Azadi soldier, is sent to assassinate her. The game features returning characters from its predecessor, such as Brian Westhouse and Gordon Halloway, but playing The Longest Journey is not a prerequisite to understanding its plot.

Gameplay[edit]

Focus field allows hotspots to be interacted from afar.

Throughout the game, the player alternately controls four player characters (in chronological order: Brian Westhouse (only for the intro), Zoë, April, and Kian) from a third-person perspective to explore various locations, gather and combine items, and solve puzzles. This advances the story, which is told through cut scenes rendered by the game engine and dialogue with non-player characters.

The interface system is simplistic with no HUD aside from buttons which trigger various interactions (below) when available. The player can either interact directly with characters, or listen in via a remote system. It is possible to eavesdrop on certain conversations at a distance, although this is used rarely in the overall plot. Conversations have 6 options at the most, portrayed on the screen in a vaguely circular fashion. Inventory is a scrolling list on the bottom, with the option to either select, interact, examine, or return after selecting an item.

Story[edit]

Background[edit]

In The Longest Journey, it was established that the Earth consists of two parallel worlds: technology-driven Stark and magic-driven Arcadia, and that transition between the worlds is only possible through an unusual ability called "Shifting". For over twelve thousand years, the Balance between the Twin Worlds has been preserved by the Guardians and Sentinel Order. In 2209, the Shifter April Ryan, was required to restore the 13th Guardian to his duties, and identified as a daughter of the ancient White Dragon.

In Dreamfall, many characters refer to the "Collapse", a catastrophic event that took place in Stark immediately after the events of TLJ. The Collapse is never described in-game, but according to supplemental material and the official website of the game, it caused the loss of such technologies as faster-than-light interstellar travel, anti-gravity, and neural interfaces and accompanied traumatic supernatural occurrences. In the immediate aftermath, authorities of Stark establish a global police agency called EYE to deal with the rising crime rate and introduce the Wire, an information network connecting all electronic devices on the planet. The Collapse coincided with the rise of the theocratic and industrial Empire of Azadi (Persian: "freedom"‎) in Arcadia, who conquered the Arcadian Northlands, exiled the Sentinels from the region, and propagated their religion. This spawned a resistance movement, of which April is part in Dreamfall.

Summary[edit]

The story of Dreamfall is presented as a narration of Zoë Castillo, a 20-year-old resident of Casablanca in 2219, who lies in coma and recounts the events that led thereto. Her narration concerns Project Alchera, an international conspiracy by the Japan-based toy manufacturer WATIcorp, that aims to introduce a potentially-destructive lucid dream technology ("dreamer console") to the market. One byproduct of their research is Faith, a girl used for testing the hallucinogenic drug Morpheus, who upon dying thereof transferred her consciousness to the DreamNet mainframe computer Eingana and thereafter appears on the Wire, causing white noise disrupting the infrastructure of Stark. Of this, Tørnquist commented that the effects of Faith's presence are much graver than shown and that he was disappointed that he and other designers "didn't manage to really explain what's going on".[3]

Zoë's story begins when her journalist ex-boyfriend Reza Temiz disappears while investigating Project Alchera, and when Faith, through television-screens, begins urging her to "find" and "save" April Ryan. Zoë tracks Reza to Newport, a fictional megapolis on the West Coast, where she identifies April Ryan before herself forcibly attached to a dreamer console by WATI agents. This unexpectedly transports her first to Faith's imaginary world of 'Winter' and then to Arcadia. There, she locates April, who refuses to take part in Faith's case. Waking in Newport, Zoë travels to Japan to meet Reza's contact Damien Cavanaugh, who explains Project Alchera. With his help, Zoë plants a Trojan Horse program in Eingana and later meets Alvin Peats, the founder of WATI and the mastermind behind Alchera. Zoë thereafter reunites with Damien and later returns to Arcadia. Concurrently, April spies on Azadi officials' negotiations with a hooded "Prophet", whom she follows beneath the Northlands' capital Marcuria to a "Chamber of Dreams", which she enters at the same time that Zoë reaches Eingana, so that the latter's overload correlates with eruption of energy in the former. Confused, April consults the reborn White Dragon, who sends her to Gordon Halloway, who in turn assures her that current events do not endanger the Balance. April returns to Marcuria to discover Zoë captured by Azadi on suspicion of witchcraft; while in Marcuria, Kian Alvane goes in search of April, whom he later meets while both are unaware of each other's identities, with Kian's attempts at conversation leading him to question the morality of his mission. April proceeds to free Zoë but again refuses to assist her. At suggestion of Brian Westhouse, Zoë visits the White Dragon but is teleported by her to April. In the climax, the rebel camp is attacked by Azadi troops, Kian is betrayed by his allies, and April is stabbed and falls into the swamp. Kian is then imprisoned for treason.

Zoë wakes in Stark and receives a message from Damien that the static originated from a testing-site near Saint Petersburg, where she discovers a record of Faith's final months as a captive test subject. Distressed, Zoë returns to Casablanca, where she is discovered by Helena Chang, one of Reza's contacts who originally "created" Faith, and who asks Zoë to meet Faith and persuade her to die, so as to dissipate her influence. Zoë enters Winter and converses with Faith, who claims to be her sister, and who then falls asleep in Zoe's lap, disappearing entirely and thus causing a severe Eingana malfunction. Using the distraction, Peats' second-in-command kills him and takes over WATI and Alchera. At this, Chang places Zoë in coma. She is next shown in hospital, with her father and Reza watching her; whereupon an out-of-body version of Zoë identifies this Reza as an impostor. Unable to wake in Stark, Zoë arrives between the Twin Worlds and tells the resident (named "Vagabond" in the game's art book) her story. In the last shots before the credits, a short television broadcast is shown, announcing the release of Dreamer consoles three months after the events of the game.

Two events of the game are seen through the eyes of Brian Westhouse, an episodic character in both TLJ and Dreamfall. In the prologue, a ritual in a Tibetan monastery sends him to Arcadia but he is instead trapped in Vagabond's realm and attacked by the "Undreaming". The exact nature of Undreaming and details of their encounter are never explained in-game; but in TLJ, Westhouse claims having been between the worlds for almost three centuries. In the epilogue, Westhouse struggles through a Tibetan blizzard in 1933 and rescued by Manny Chavez (one of the pseudonyms of the Red Dragon, who appears as Cortez in TLJ).

Cultural references[edit]

While the first game of the series established its own mythos, Dreamfall borrows numerous names and concepts from the Australian Aboriginal mythology, such as the Eingana and Alchera/Dreamtime. Similarities can be found between the decoration and architecture of the Azadi buildings and the Islamic art and architecture. Also, "Kian" is a Persian name and "Azadi" (Persian: آزادی‎) is "freedom" in Persian. In addition "Reza" is an Arabic name widely in use in Iran. "Temiz" means "clean", is Turkish and rarely used as a surname.

Within the game, there are also references to other games published by Funcom, for example, to Anarchy Online: a copy of the Anarchy Online novel can be found in Zoë's apartment; there is an engineer wardroid at the street dealer in Newport and a small yellow cleanerbot (seen in many large cities of AO) in Olivia's store; and the music that plays on the first floor of Reza's apartment is also a track from the Anarchy Online. Perhaps, one of the most unusual features of Dreamfall is the in-game presence of its own disc covers, as well as those of TLJ, on multiple locations, e.g. on Reza's bathroom shelf, on the floor near Zoë's TV, behind the Chinese merchant in New Venice, etc.

Several popular movies are referenced, as well, for example, when Crow is telling Zoë about being a sidekick, he makes a reference to The Lord of the Rings films directed by Peter Jackson. He implies that right after he was elected the Sidekick of the Month by the League of Sidekicks, Samwise Gamgee (portrayed by Sean Astin) "stole" the title from him. Brian Westhouse also says, "Where we're going, we don't need wings", a reference to the final lines of Back to the Future.[original research?]

Wonkers the Watilla, an intelligent stuffed purple gorilla-like creature acting as Zoë's personal assistant and playfellow, is voiced by Jack Angel. Angel had earlier used an identical voice to portray as a similar character, Teddy, in Steven Spielberg's 2001 film A.I.. Ragnar Tørnquist has stated that the character of Wonkers was directly inspired by Teddy, and he sought out Angel to give Wonkers the same feel as the earlier character.

When Zoë first arrives in Arcadia, her comment that "[she isn't] in Venice any more" is a possible reference to The Wizard of Oz. The most notable homage pointed out by critics is the disturbing similarity that the character Faith bears to Samara Morgan from The Ring,[4][5][6] who is, in turn, based on Onryō from Japanese ghost stories.

April's encounter of a "ticking sarcophagus" is a possible reference to one of the endings of Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines.

The "glowing clockwork egg" which April and Zoë encounter bears a striking similarity to the mechanical device in the film Cronos, around which that films plot is centered.

Intentional or otherwise, the two closed taverns near the South Gates of Marcuria are named "The Cock and the Puss" and "The Salty Seaman" ("Best nuts in Marcuria!"), which may have sexual implications ("seaman" is a homophone of "semen"). Such word plays go back to The Longest Journey, where a character makes a reference to "pubs with oddly suggestive names, like 'The Lazy Cock'."

Development[edit]

Funcom considers The Longest Journey an important IP, so the plans to make a sequel were green-lit despite the difficulties of marketing an adventure game in the mid-2000s. To appeal better to the gaming market, Dreamfall was developed both for the PC and the Xbox home console, which led to a much more stressful production cycle than the original game. The game had a larger development team (about 30 people[7]) and a larger budget (approx. $5 million) than The Longest Journey.[8]

The developers did not consider Dreamfall a direct sequel to The Longest Journey, but rather a "follow-up, set in the same universe, but telling a different story", hence the different title and a new protagonist (Zoë Castillo). The direct sequel would have starred April Ryan in the main role and continued the plot threads started in the first game.[8] In 2013, this sequel was announced as The Longest Journey Home, to be produced after Dreamfall Chapters, the sequel to Dreamfall.[9]

The much-criticized combat and stealth sections were added to diversify the traditional graphic adventure game gameplay, but by the developers' own admission, they had "failed to make those mechanics fun". Game director Ragnar Tørnquist also named the technical issues with the Shark 3D engine (of which he speaks very unfavorably[7]) and the team's lack of experience with it as contributing factors to the faulty technical implementation of these mechanics.[8]

Releases[edit]

Dreamfall: The Longest Journey was released for Microsoft Windows on 17 April 2006 in the United States and 18 April in Europe, available either on 6 CDs or a single DVD. A Limited Edition of Dreamfall was released, as well, containing the DVD version of the game, a soundtrack EP with four songs by Magnet, and a 92 page hardcover art book entitled The Art of Dreamfall. According to Ragnar Tørnquist, this edition is "an actual limited Limited Edition",[10] since it has only been produced in small numbers. On 23 December 2006, a game demo was released.[11] On 12 January 2007, Dreamfall was made available on Steam. On 30 April 2007, Aspyr announced that a Game of the Year edition would be released to North America on 24 May 2007 and will include The Longest Journey, Dreamfall, and the Dreamfall OST.[12] This release includes three DVDs but no manual. The StarForce copy protection system prevents the use of the boxed version of the game on 64-bit versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7, although this can be circumvented with an unofficial patch which bypasses the software.

The Xbox version of the game has been released on 8 April and 11 August 2006 in the US and Europe, respectively, and is backwards compatible with Xbox 360 since June 2006. It was made available as an "Xbox Originals" digital download on Xbox Live on 23 March 2008. The downloadable version is the original Xbox version of the game rather than the Game of the Year edition.

Audio[edit]

Most of the music in Dreamfall was composed by Leon Willett, who joined the production team in the last year of its development. Willett spent ten months writing the score, with the biggest challenge being to make it both cohesive and reflecting the multitude of settings in the game. He later commented in an interview, that the story of Dreamfall required "a broad, Hollywood approach" to music and regretted not having a live orchestra to perform it (instead using synthesized performance). Willett also remarked that because of an entirely new premise and more cinematic way of storytelling in Dreamfall, he had rarely considered the music from The Longest Journey as inspiration.[13]

The Dreamfall Original Soundtrack was released in August 2006. It contains the original orchestral music composed by Leon Willett for the game, as well as several tracks by other musicians, including the game's lead sound designer Simon Poole and audio director Morten Sørlie. It was nominated in the Best Video Game Score category at the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards but eventually lost to The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion score. The most prominent music in the game, featured on the main menu and in the first two game trailers, is a combination of two tracks ("Dreamfall Theme" and "Kian's Theme"). The final track is "Faith", a 2:40 minute long track followed by six minutes of silence, after which a static noise, and the phrase "Find April Ryan... Save her!" (a key phrase from the game) can be heard. Other significant tracks include "Lana and Maud" (heard in the Fringe Cafe in Newport) and "Rush" (from Casablanca towards the end of the game).

Dreamfall: The Longest Journey Original Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Leon Willett
Released
June 2, 2006
Genre Video game soundtrack
Length 68:36
Label Funcom
Original Soundtrack (68:36)
No. Title Length
1. "Dreamfall Theme / Tibet Monastery"   2:39
2. "The Hospital Room" (vocals by Vivi Christensen) 2:23
3. "Casablanca"   3:41
4. "Jiva"   2:25
5. "Reza's Apartment"   3:49
6. "Northlands Forest"   3:13
7. "Newport"   2:59
8. "The Underground City"   2:40
9. "Marcuria"   2:44
10. "Meeting April Ryan / April's Theme"   2:22
11. "Necropolis"   1:49
12. "Sadir"   3:17
13. "WATI Corp"   6:04
14. "The Swamplands"   3:15
15. "Kian's Theme"   2:54
16. "Zoë's Theme" (bonus track) 1:28
17. "St. Petersburg" (by Simon Poole) 2:00
18. "The Factory" (by Simon Poole) 1:12
19. "Lana and Maud" (edit by Slipperhero) 2:09
20. "Clay" (edit by Octavcat) 2:36
21. "Rush" (by Ingvild Hasund) 3:16
22. "Faith" (by Morten Sørlie) 9:31

All songs by the Norwegian singer Magnet that have been included into the game were released on a the separate Magnet EP extended play CD released with the limited edition version of the game. "Be With You", the only track composed specifically for the game, is heard on several occasions; in the lobby of Reza's apartment building, during Zoë's journeys to Japan and St. Petersburg, and during the closing credits. "My Darling Curse" plays when she takes a Vactrax to Newport, and "Nothing Hurts Now" is heard both when Zoë stays in Damien's apartment and in the very end, when she lies on her bed crying.

21 second sample of "Be With You" by Magnet

Problems playing this file? See media help.
Magnet EP
No. Title Length
1. "Be With You"   5:34
2. "My Darling Curse"   4:26
3. "The Pacemaker"   5:01
4. "Nothing Hurts Now"   3:44

Along with a well received soundtrack, reviewers felt that Dreamfall had superb voice acting.[citation needed] Many games fall flat when it comes to voice work within a game,[citation needed] but Blindlight managed to cast and produce a successful array of voices.[citation needed]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings (PC) 77.48%[14]
(Xbox) 75.06%[15]
Metacritic (PC) 75/100[16]
(Xbox) 73/100[17]
Review scores
Publication Score
GameSpot 8.1/10[18]
GameSpy 5/5 stars[19]
IGN 7.5/10[20]

Dreamfall: The Longest Journey was generally well received by both critics and players. The media praised the story and the characterisation in the game, but criticized its fighting and stealth elements, as well as the abrupt cliffhanger ending. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the PC version 77.48% and 75/100[14][16] and the Xbox version 75.06% and 73/100.[15][17] According to Funcom's annual 2006 report, the sales for the PC version were "satisfactory", while the one for Xbox failed to meet expectations.[2]

GameSpy rated it as "outstanding":

"It's been a long-time [sic] since The Longest Journey was released, with fans of the game wondering whether a sequel could possibly match the original. They need wonder no longer. Dreamfall is an amazing journey that propels players into a world where science, magic, art, and music combine to make a whole much greater than the sum of its parts." – GameSpy[19]

GameSpot also ranked it as "great," stating "Dreamfall does not disappoint, for the most part. It exhibits the unique attention to detail and terrific presentation that made The Longest Journey so remarkable for its time."[18]

Adventure Classic Gaming said "It is contemporary interactive fiction at its best. Its unique blend of storytelling and gameplay should appeal to a broad range of gamers beyond those who are loyal to the adventure genre."[21]

Other critics, while not disputing the quality of the story, were disappointed that the game is primarily story-driven, and would like to have seen more gameplay. For example, IGN said:

"While playing through, it's difficult to shake the impression that intelligent design was given a back seat to painfully simplistic fighting and sneaking sequences. The combat is, for all intents and purposes, a total joke. [...] While the gameplay has been drastically simplified, the story remains as engaging as ever. Characters engage in deep conversation, revealing all sorts of nuance and helping to strengthen this game's unique mood. Be warned, if you don't like watching lengthy conversations or if you generally disregard a game's plot, you'll be absolutely dissatisfied with Dreamfall. However, if you're in the mood for one of gaming's best and most recent narratives, by all means pick this one up. Just be aware that Dreamfall's appeal lies largely in its narrative and characters, and not in the gameplay." – IGN[20]

Sequel[edit]

On 1 March 2007, Funcom announced that the continuation of the story will be published under the title Dreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey.[1] The numerous cliffhangers and apparent plot holes in Dreamfall have caused a great commotion among the players and were addressed by Ragnar Tørnquist on his blog. He stated that the game is, in fact, the first part of a duology and that all questions will be answered in the second installment.[22]

In November 2012, Ragnar Tørnquist's newly founded studio Red Thread Games began the pre-production of the sequel. Because Funcom's focus has shifted to online games, the company decided to license the rights to The Longest Journey IP to Tørnquist's development studio, who will fund and produce the game independently.[23] A Kickstarter campaign to crowd-fund the game has begun on 8 February 2013 and ended successfully raising $1.5 million on 10 March.[24]

Tørnquist commented that the developers also considered the idea of making a film based on The Longest Journey or Dreamfall but found it too difficult to realize at the current stage.[25]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Funcom awarded grant from Norwegian Film Fund". Funcom. 2007-03-01. Retrieved 2007-03-01. 
  2. ^ a b "Funcom 2006 Annual Report". Funcom. Retrieved 2007-10-16. "The title went on to become a satisfactory seller on the PC platform. The Xbox version had lower than expected sales, mainly because the Xbox 360 eclipsed the original platform much faster than anticipated. [...] Funcom sees multiple opportunities for the game and the brand in the future, including an episodic online release of Dreamfall: Chapters, and the possibility of a massively multiplayer adaptation." 
  3. ^ Walker, John (2008-08-20). "Ragnar Tørnquist On… Dreamfall & Faith". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  4. ^ Stanescu, Alexandru (2006-10-11). "Dreamfall review". Softpedia. Retrieved 2007-03-24. "You'll have a bit of The Ring feeling when you'll see the little brunette girl whispering stuff in Zoe's [sic] visions." 
  5. ^ Crowe, Greg. "Dreamfall review". GameIndustry.com. Retrieved 2007-03-24. "[Zoë] can’t see to go near a television screen without having a The Ring moment." 
  6. ^ Hill, Will 'Jayson' (2006-06-08). "Dreamfall review". GameShark. Retrieved 2007-03-24. "Reminded me a little of the creepy tape chick from that movie The Ring." 
  7. ^ a b Smith, Adam (8 February 2013). "Journey's End: Dreamfall Chapters Interview – Part One". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c Böke, Ingmar (1 March 2013). "Dreamfall Chapters – Ragnar Tørnquist". Adventure Gamers. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  9. ^ VanOrd, Kevin (1 March 2013). "Taking The Longest Journey Home". GameSpot. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  10. ^ Tørnquist, Ragnar (2006-05-10). "Getting the good word out". Archived from the original on 2008-06-27. Retrieved 2007-01-31. 
  11. ^ "Dreamfall: The Longest Journey Demo". FileShack. 2006-12-23. Retrieved 2007-02-06. 
  12. ^ "Aspyr to Publish Dreamfall Game of the Year Edition". IGN. 2007-04-30. Retrieved 2007-05-21. 
  13. ^ Bat, Joseph. "Q&A with Leon Willett". Movie Music UK. Archived from the original on 2007-07-15. Retrieved 2007-08-20. 
  14. ^ a b "Dreamfall: The Longest Journey for PC". GameRankings. Retrieved 14 May 2014. 
  15. ^ a b "Dreamfall: The Longest Journey for Xbox". GameRankings. Retrieved 14 May 2014. 
  16. ^ a b "Dreamfall: The Longest Journey for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 14 May 2014. 
  17. ^ a b "Dreamfall: The Longest Journey for Xbox Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 14 May 2014. 
  18. ^ a b Kasavin, Greg (18 April 2006). "Dreamfall: The Longest Journey PC review". GameSpot. Retrieved 31 January 2007. 
  19. ^ a b Rausch, Allen (18 April 2006). "Dreamfall: The Longest Journey PC review". GameSpy. Retrieved 31 January 2007. 
  20. ^ a b Onyett, Charles (17 April 2006). "Dreamfall: The Longest Journey PC review". IGN. Retrieved 31 January 2007. 
  21. ^ Jong, Philip (2006-04-26). "Dreamfall review". Adventure Classic Gaming.com. Retrieved 2007-01-31. 
  22. ^ Tørnquist, Ragnar (2006-04-26). "About the ending of Dreamfall". RagnarTornquist.com. Archived from the original on 2008-06-27. Retrieved 2007-01-31. "Dreamfall was from day one designed as the first part of a two-part story… and also the middle part of a trilogy. […] There are lots of unanswered questions because the story isn’t over. Yet. […] It’s been planned from the get-go." 
  23. ^ "Pre-Production Begins On New Game In The Longest Journey Saga". Funcom. 2012-11-01. Retrieved 2012-11-01. 
  24. ^ Red Thread Games (8 February 2013). "Dreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey". Kickstarter. Retrieved 8 February 2013. 
  25. ^ Tørnquist, Ragnar (2007-03-21). "Gears of Hollywood". RagnarTornquist.com. Archived from the original on 2008-06-27. Retrieved 2007-03-29. "We've spoken to various people in various positions (from agents to producers) about bringing The Longest Journey and/or Dreamfall to the big (and small) screen, but it’s a difficult story to adapt, and it’d be hugely expensive." 

External links[edit]