Steam header for the original Dream Chronicles
|Programmer(s)||David Gonzalez, Miguel Angel Linan|
|Artist(s)||Pablo Vietto, Nikitova LLC|
Eleanor Burian-MohrCornerstore Entertainment
Kane Minkus, Nick Thomas
|Genre(s)||Adventure, hidden object, puzzle|
Dream Chronicles, originally titled Dream Chronicles: The Endless Slumber, is a 2007 award-winning adventure, hidden object, and puzzle casual game developed by KatGames and originally published by PlayFirst. It is the first installment in the same name series, and also the opening part of the first trilogy called Faye's Journey. The game was pitched to PlayFirst at the first Casual Games Association event in Amsterdam in February 2006, and became the very first adventure game to hit the mainstream casual game industry. The prototype was initially rejected by publishers, but after coming up with the premise of Dream Chronicles, KatGames was signed-up by PlayFirst and completed the title. Set in a mystical world of realistic fantasy where mortal and fairy realms collide, the game tells the story of a mortal woman named Faye who is the only one being able to awaken from a powerful fairy's dream spell. After that, she embarks on an adventure through a gorgeous dream world to find her fairy husband and save her hometown. To solve the mystery, players must complete challenging puzzles and search for subtle clues leading to the whereabouts of Faye's husband. But if not all of the clues are found, the spell may never be broken.
Dream Chronicles was first released worldwide as a digital download on June 12, 2007. It quickly became a best-selling game topping seven major casual game charts, and peaking inside top ten on many other charts. The game proved to be one of the biggest and most innovative casual games of 2007, winning a Zeeby Award's "People’s Choice Award for the Best Hidden Object & Adventure Game of 2007" in July 2008., and nominated for Big Fish Games's "2nd Runner-Up Best Puzzle Game of 2007", losing to Mystery Case Files: Madame Fate. It was critically appreciated by casual game critics, with reviewers complimenting its creative yet approachable gameplay, which is a well blending of adventure and hidden object games, while some deemed it as "a casual cousin to epic, hard-core adventures like Myst and Uru." Along with Azada and Mortimer Beckett, it marked the birth of a new merged "Hidden Object & Adventure" genre in casual games. Up to now, the original Dream Chronicles is the most successful game of the whole series, earning both hugely critical and commercial success. As the first part of the first trilogy, Dream Chronicles spawned two direct sequels, Dream Chronicles 2: The Eternal Maze and Dream Chronicles: The Chosen Child, which were released in 2008 and 2009 respectively.
The original Dream Chronicles is a seek-and-find adventure game with many mysterious puzzles in store for players to solve. It is not a simple or typical hidden object game, but is more similar to an adventure or quest game. The game resembles epic Myst series in a way which is much simpler.
When players enter a room or any location for the first time, Faye makes some entry statement to set players on the right track. Almost all the objects in the room can be described to players by Faye, players just need to click on them and they will have a statement with a probable hint. Clicking items place them in your inventory at the bottom of the screen. Once there, players can use them on other objects, and combine them to solve the various conundrums encountered. However, unlike most "hardcore" adventure games, players never lug around any unnecessary inventory items in the game. All the items players collect can be used only within the location players found them in, but not in future puzzles. Solve the poser at hand and players unlock the door to the next location. The game itself is separated into many segments, and there is a cut-scene between these ones. These cut-scenes are cinematic-like wide-screen briefs which tells the story through the main character Faye's point of view.
Dream Chronicles gameplay consists of a series of puzzles that the players as Faye must solve to reach the next chapter. Each scene incorporates one or more puzzles to be solved, with thorough investigation crucial to advancing. Most involve searching for and making use of hidden objects, while others are logic puzzles. The players are required to do is collect a lot of items from the scene, and put them back where they belonged. The whole game covers a wide range of game types, including adventure, role-playing, jigsaw puzzle, seek-and-find, Simon games... Players are given hints as to how to proceed, and some brief instructions, but they need to work out what is actually required themselves. And if players leave the game having not solved all the puzzles within a scene, they will have to start the scene from the very beginning.
Throughout the game, players find various colored gems. These are Dream Pieces, gems that make up the Dream Jewels collection. They give lots of detailed information about some important fairies and their roles in the Fairy Realm which features in the series. Finding and completing Dream Jewels adds to the player's score at the end of the game. Unfortunately, players cannot revisit the scenes to pick up unnoticed gems. For every Dream Piece collected in the game, players earn 1,000 points. There are 115 Dream Pieces molding eight Dream Jewels to complete in Dream Chronicles. Dream Jewels collection is a creative element that differs the Dream Chronicles series from any other casual games in the market. Though often being credited for borrowing Myst series' concepts, Dream Chronicles is one of the earliest casual games combining the adventure game's elements with hidden object game's proportions (along with Azada and Mortimer Beckett).
In the end, player earns a high score. The faster how players can complete the game, the more Dream Pieces they can find, the better score they will earn. When re-playing the game under the same name to beat the score, players will find some items have changed location.
There are eighteen main scenes and two large areas featuring in Dream Chronicles:
- The Village of Wish: This is the tiny town of Wish, where Faye lives with her husband Fidget, her daughter Lyra and Fidget's parents, Tangle and Aeval. It’s an insular place, far from cities and civilization. The town is surrounded by tall walls, not to keep the residents inside, for they have no desire to leave the safety and warmth of their community. The walls are there to keep the outside world outside, and are secured with complex weighted locks first seen in Dream Chronicles. The streets are cobbled, lined with colorful dwellings and stores. Beyond the walls of Wish lie lush forests and winding roads that, eventually, lead to other larger towns. But the folk of Wish have little desire to visit those distant places. Their homes are secure in their beloved village where, they believe, no harm can come to them. Before Faye, no one had left this village in many years.
- Lilith's Mansion: This is Lilith's temporary home. In the original Dream Chronicles, she executed her plans to kidnap Fidget from this location.
First three people listed below are the main characters, while the others play the minor roles.
- Faye is a mortal woman who is the main protagonist of the original Dream Chronicles, and the Faye's Journey trilogy. Waking up from a strange dream, Faye realizes everyone in her Town of Wish falling into a magical sleep spell, and her husband Fidget has already vanished, which force Faye to embarks on a lonely dangerous quest to rescue him. On the journey, Faye soon explores many secrets about her in-law family: their true identities, their fairy roots, and their lives in the Town of Wish. According to Fidget, Faye is "a strong and smart and persistent woman" who never gives up hopes, and always tries hard to get her family back to their old peaceful days. Faye does not appear in person because players play as her point of view.
- Lilith as Fairy Queen of Dreams is the main antagonist of the Faye's Journey trilogy. At the beginning of the game, she abducts a fairy named Fidget, as she believes marrying him will make her power become stronger. She also casts an enchanting sleep spell on everyone in the Town of Wish to make sure that her plans go smooth, and no one can disturb her marrying Fidget.
- Fidget is Faye's husband, Lyra's father, and a fairy raised in the mortal world by his fairy parents Aeval and Tangle. Having already being aware of Lilith's evil plans, Fidget tried to protect his family, but when things go wrong, he is abducted and brought to Lilith's mansion. He plays as Faye's guide in this game.
- Lyra is the daughter of Faye and Fidget. Lyra falls into Lilith's sleep spell like any other resident in the Town of Wish. Lyra only appears once in the third scene, and is rarely mentioned.
- Aeval and Tangle, as Fairy Queen of Flora and Fairy King of Knowledge respectively, are Fidget's parents and Faye's parents-in-law. They once fell in love with each other, and decided to escape to the Mortal Realm together to make sure that their children will be bought up naturally and humanly. While Aeval can communicate with plants, and they can talk back to her, Tangle can spend hours reading books as it is his endless pursuit. They are both rarely mentioned in this game.
A mortal woman named Faye had a dream in which the Fairy Queen of Dreams, Lilith, was casting a dream spell upon her Town of Wish, and making every resident fell into a magically deep sleep. Strangely, Faye could hear her husband Fidget trying hopelessly to awaken her somehow. Waking up from this dream, Faye cannot believe that those things having occurred in her dreams are happening in reality as well: Lilith has already abducted Fidget. However, before being abducted, Fidget used his remaining power, removed the sleep spell from Faye, and left a path for her to follow in his precious diary. Faye decides to check her little daughter Lyra. Unfortunately, Lyra is falling into the sleep spell like any other resident in this town. Faye compulsorily starts the journey in hope of searching Fidget, which is constantly prevented by Lilith's magical obstacles. It is not too long until Faye discovers a big secret that the in-law family has tried to keep from her so long: Fidget and his parents are ALL fairies. Faye soon learns more about the in-law family's fairy heritage and their secret past. She acknowledges that all marriages are arranged in the Fairy Realm, and the concept of love was unknown until Fidget's parents, Aeval and Tangle, fell in love. Fidget was to marry Lilith, but his parents chose to raise a fairy like him in the mortal world, so he could marry a mortal for love too. Lilith believed that her marriage to Fidget would strengthen her powers as the Fairy Queen of Dreams. She already had the power to watch and monitor the dreams, daydreams, and imaginings of mortals, but she wanted the power to control their dreams. Since Fidget married Faye, Lilith has hatched an evil plan to make sure that Fidget will become hers. Fidget reveals these secrets to Faye through his diary, which makes Faye feels so confused and frustrated. She soon accepts the truth when she discovers a human-talking, carnivorous plant named Herbert which, according to Fidget, is his mother's best friend. After leaving the comfort of in-law family, Faye crosses the streets and tries to open the main gate of the Town of Wish. She ventures outside but quickly gets lost in the forest when the moon rises. Luckily, a sign found in the dark shows Faye directly to Lilith's mansion where she thinks that Lilith is keeping her husband. Faye has finally found Fidget, and is able to reunite with him momentarily. Lilith soon appears, separates the couple again, takes Fidget with her, and casts another sleep spell upon Faye. She falls into another deep sleep, and hopelessly sees Lilith taking Fidget in front of her.
Before releasing Dream Chronicles, KatGames had developed eight games but none of them earned success because of their poorly low-budget appearances. Having been aware of this, when starting developing the ninth game (now known as Dream Chronicles), KatGames moonlighted on it during other projects in hope that the game would one day get the funding and attention it deserved.
In 2005, CEO and lead game designer of KatGames, Miguel Tartaj shared the game idea with two potential partners but according to him "it didn't go anywhere". Tartaj wanted to find a publisher who could provide his team with the creative input and non-development support. He also needed a partner whom his team trusted, and had a track record of successfully navigating the casual games market. Tartaj first met PlayFirst's creative director Kenny Dinkin and director of publishing Craig Bocks at Casual Connect Amsterdam in 2006. He was impressed by their dedication to creativity and innovation, and could immediately sense that they shared his vision to make this unique game a reality. KatGames eventually signed an agreement to PlayFirst on what came to be known in June 2007 as Dream Chronicles.
Miguel Tartaj shared his thought when KatGames became a PlayFirst's partner: "We knew that an adventure game like Dream Chronicles was going to be unique for our team and unique for the casual games industry. [...] The iterative nature of a story-based game like Dream Chronicles was going to require a much higher degree of flexibility throughout the game's design and development process. Each new scene involved unique graphics, puzzles, and story elements, so we knew that it wouldn't all be 'figured out' up front. I prefer to work more iteratively and put pieces together to try things out as we go along. PlayFirst's willingness to accept this fact was something that I appreciated in terms of my work style. Not only being able to work this way, but to also be supported in doing it was a great advantage for my team. We truly were able to 'dream' as we went along."
Release and post-release
Dream Chronicles was first released as a download on June 12, 2007 by PlayFirst and promoted: "Dream Chronicles' unique combination of strategy, adventure and hidden object-style gameplay is brought to life by KatGames' luminous Art Nouveau images, a mesmerizing musical score and a gripping storyline. It immerses players in a spell-binding quest through an elegantly designed, lyrical dreamscape." The game was thought to be another underground casual game, but it surprisingly peaked at number-one on PlayFirst, Logler Global, RealArcade, GameHouse, Shockwave, MSN Games and Zylom; number-two on iWin.com, Arcade Town, Big Fish Games and Yahoo! Games; number-three on Reflexive Arcade and Oberon Games. It peaked inside top ten on Pogo.com, SpinTop Games, Amazon.com and other major casual game charts.
Since the first release, Dream Chronicles has garnered normally positive reviews from casual game critics who often praised its creative concept, beautiful 2.5D Art Nouveau-inspired artworks, and ethereally smooth soundtrack. They also sometimes considered the original Dream Chronicles as the most intriguing game of the whole series.
Its first critical acclaim came from the popular casual game review site Gamezebo when their editor, Chuck Miller, rated the original game the rare 5.0/5.0 stars. Miller stated: "Dream Chronicles has all the necessary ingredients of an exceptional game, one that lives up to its marketing hype. Art Nouveau graphics are beautifully rendered, an ethereal soundtrack helps bring the world to life, its engaging narrative draws you into the story and diverse puzzles of varying difficulty keep play interesting and challenging. [...] In short, solving Dream Chronicles's mysteries is a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Place it at the top of your list of must-play games for 2007." On the other side, Miller cited the biggest weak spot of the game is its short length, though this weakness did not impact on his opinions overall. In late 2007, the original Dream Chronicles was honored as one of the best casual games of 2007 in annual Top Games list by Gamezebo's editors.
Meanwhile, Ms. 45, an editor from Jay Is Games described the game as "a sensual delight, an intellectual challenge, and a very engaging twist on adventure, seek-and-find and puzzle games." She complimented on its exceptional production value: "The artwork is astonishing. [...] Every scene had me marveling at how beautiful the illustration was. [...] The story is also interesting. [...] The dialogue and descriptive text reveal a sense of humor and a real interest in storytelling."
Despite the fact that the game was well received by casual game critics, it was not approved by hardcore game ones. Adventure Gamers gave the game 2.5 out of 5, praising artwork and variety of puzzles but criticizing interface, repetitive activities and storyline. The game's reception on the Xbox 360 has been negative, having an aggregate score of 37.20% on GameRankings and 34 on Metacritic.
Prior to Dream Chronicles' release, hidden object games in casual game market primarily featured finding lists of random objects. Since the first release in June 2007, along with Azada and Mortimer Beckett, Dream Chronicles actually marked the start, rather the combination of hidden object game's portion and adventure game's elements into a new merged genre called "Hidden Object & Adventure". Not only finding objects, but players also have to use the objects they have found to solve the puzzles featured in the game. Afterward, there were many "Hidden Object & Adventure" casual games with similar gameplays and concepts which were released to follow this footstep such as Escape the Museum, Natalie Brooks, Mushroom Age... and many more. In late 2007, Dream Chronicles was awarded for the "2nd Runner-Up Best Puzzle Game of 2007", and picked into the 2007 Customer Favorites list by Big Fish Games. In early 2008, the game received five nominations at the Second Annual Casual Game "Zeeby" Awards held by Gamezebo, including four Craft Awards (Best Visual Art, Best Story, Best Innovative Game, and Best Audio Game of 2007) and one People's Choice Award (Best Hidden Object & Adventure Game of 2007). Dream Chronicles won the latter and lost the former to Mystery Case Files: Madame Fate, Build-a-lot, and Peggle respectively in July 2008.
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