by adam mathes
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Mutlidimensional Narrative

I try to enjoy the few commercial adventure games still being released, but sometimes I wonder if the developers are purposefully trying to ensure that’s impossible.

At some point in Dreamfall: The Longest Journey April Ryan needs to hide and observe a creature tapping a series of magical symbols to open a door.

The creature becomes frightened and runs away if it notices April.

This is annoying, because then you have to wait some ridiculous amount of time for another creature to come by and open the door.

After a dozen or so attempts, I hid April from the creature’s view and was still be able to see from the camera angle that the the sequence was right, left, middle.

Attempting to open the door after that yields a stupid message from April about how there must be some way to open the door, if only she knew the pattern, so she’ll just try a random one. Which doesn’t work.

Yelling “RIGHT, LEFT, MIDDLE ARE YOU FUCKING BLIND? FUCKING PAY ATTENTION!” at the computer screen will not cause her to enter the right combination.

It turns out you have to explicitly click on a tomb to hide April, then while hiding, explicitly click at the right time to observe the creature. Only then will April click the right, left, then middle symbols.

Which is stupid.

The Longest Journey (the original) had questionable gameplay, and an overabundance of dialogue, but the strength of the environment and storytelling made it possible to overlook those flaws.

Dreamfall has so little gameplay, and the gameplay it does have is so bad (including a beyond abysmal combat system) that even with stellar storytelling, plot, characters, and charm it might not be forgivable. But Dreamfall doesn’t really have much of those positive aspects, at least not to the degree necessary.

Which isn’t to say that the game overall is terrible, the story and characters are still interesting and entertaining, it’s just even less clear why this is a game rather than say, a series of graphic novels, than it was last time around.

Really, adventure games should have stayed in 2.5d. That extra half dimension doesn’t seem to be working out for the genre.

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