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Dreamfall Chapters

is an ongoing episodic 3D adventure game with emphasis on character interaction, exploration of the game world, and puzzle solving. It is a sequel to the adventure games... read more

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Genres Adventure
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Status: Released
Release: 21-Oct-2014

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is an ongoing episodic 3D adventure game with emphasis on character interaction, exploration of the game world, and puzzle solving. It is a sequel to the adventure games The Longest Journey and Dreamfall: The Longest Journey. The first episode was released on 21 October 2014.

The Longest Journey series is set in two parallel universes: Stark, a cyberpunk future Earth, and Arcadia, its magical fantasy counterpart. Chapters takes place in 2220 CE and continues the story of Dreamfall, whose protagonist Zoë Castillo had uncovered a criminal conspiracy that aimed to enslave both Stark and Arcadia by stealing their residents' dreams. Although Zoë managed to disrupt the conspirators' plans, she was betrayed and left for dead in the end of Dreamfall, and has to find her purpose in life again in Chapters. The writers described the narrative theme of the game as "chapters of life".

Dreamfall Chapters is being developed by Red Thread Games, an independent studio founded by Ragnar Tørnquist, who wrote and directed the previous two games, under the license from Funcom, the owners of The Longest Journey IP. Its development was crowd-funded by a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $1.5 million, with additional funding provided by the Norwegian Film Institute.

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Gameplay

Dreamfall Chapters is developed on the Unity 4 game engine, and features large 3D environments, as opposed to 2D backgrounds in The Longest Journey (TLJ) and smaller 3D locations in Dreamfall. While not a completely open world, the game contains several free-roaming exploration levels, such as Europolis and Marcuria, and rewards players for exploring the levels and finding secrets. The locations themselves change slightly depending on the season as the story progresses. The players are able to quickly travel from one location to another.

The player steers playable characters from over-the-shoulder third-person view, using the WASD keys and mouselook. Interactive characters and objects are highlighted on the screen, allowing the player to interact with them using the mouse and context menus. While the game supports game controllers, it is being optimized for the PC. The gameplay focus is on the exploration of the environments and the story and on solving puzzles. Dialogue with NPCs and dialogue puzzles comprise about half of the gameplay time. The on-screen interface is hidden by default to improve the immersion. There are no combat or stealth gameplay in Dreamfall Chapters.

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Although the game features a linear plot with a set outcome, the players have to make many choices throughout the game that have far-reaching impact on the later story events (but not the ending). An optional, online-only "social" feature allows players to discover (either before, or after making the choice) which options other players (and their Facebook friends in particular) picked in these situations. These statistics are stored in a shared global database for all platforms. The game additionally displays a special "The balance has shifted" icon to warn players before plot-relevant choices, even when playing offline. An in-game journal, akin to April Ryan's diary in TLJ, keeps track of the recent plot developments.

Chapters includes a recap of the previous games to ease the new players into the story. Although it will conclude the story arc that the developers refer to as "the Dreamer Cycle", it will not be the last installment of The Longest Journey series.

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Plot

Synopsis

Like the previous games in the series, Dreamfall Chapters is set in two parallel worlds: Stark, a dystopian vision of the Earth in 2220 CE, and Arcadia, its magical fantasy counterpart. Having suffered the catastrophic Collapse in the aftermath of the original The Longest Journey in 2209, the society in Stark is now crumbling, as billions of people become addicted to "Dreamachines", a lucid dream technology invented by the WatiCorp company. Meanwhile, in Arcadia, the villainous Azadi Empire consolidates its power again, while their tower in Marcuria "continues to harvest dreams".

In the prologue, anti-Azadi guerrillas in Arcadia pay their last respects to their late leader, April Ryan. The scene then cuts to the House of All Worlds, where a woman is giving birth. The baby, revealed to have been named Saga, appears again at the end of Book One, encountering a spirit who calls her "sister-daughter" and promises to watch over her.

The game proper opens several months after the conclusion of Dreamfall, where Zoë Castillo exposed the conspiracy behind the Dreamachines, but failed to prevent their release to the public and was betrayed and left in a coma. Her consciousness and those of the many Dreamachine addicts are now trapped in the otherworldly realm of "Storytime", where Zoë uses her dream-controlling powers to help others escape their nightmares. Recognizing her efforts as insufficient, she resolves to find and confront the cause of the nightmares and manages to awaken herself in the real world, but loses all memories since her first usage of a Dreamachine prototype. Estranged from her father, she moves to Europolis (a dystopian megapolis covering most of Central and Western Europe) to start a new life, rekindling her relationship with Reza Temiz and volunteering as a political activist. She visits a therapist to restore her memories, but to no avail. All the while, shadowy forces observe her from a distance.

Meanwhile in Arcadia, Kian Alvane, an elite Azadi soldier imprisoned for high treason, learns that he is to be summarily executed in a few hours, but the resistance, seeking to recruit him, stages a prison riot and breaks him out. Concerned about this development, Sister Sahya, the Azadi governor of Marcuria, orders Commander Vamon to find and kill him before he can deliver a testimony to an Azadi Empress currently on her way to Marcuria.

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Characters

The game features three playable characters: Zoë Castillo, Kian Alvane (both of them previously playable in Dreamfall), and Saga, a new protagonist who appears as a toddler in the first interlude. April Ryan, the protagonist of TLJ and the third co-protagonist of Dreamfall, died in the previous installment, but her voice actress Sarah Hamilton is involved with the game, although in what role is still undisclosed. Zoë's voice actress, Ellie Conrad-Leigh, has expressed readiness to reprise her role, but RTG have not officially confirmed her return. Gameplay previews thus far have featured Charlotte Ritchie in the role. British actor Nicholas Boulton will voice Kian, taking over the role from Gavin O'Connor.

Other returning characters include Crow, Blind Bob, Benrime Salmin, Roper Klacks, Abnaxus, the Vagabond, Brian Westhouse, Emma de Vrijer, and Reza Temiz.

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Themes

The subtitle "Chapters" refers to the theme of the game, which Tørnquist describes as "chapters of life" and "life in chapters", such as birth, life, death. The game's plot covers roughly a year of the protagonists' lives, beginning in spring and ending in winter. The narration is divided into thirteen chapters (like the previous games) or five "books", themed around a particular phase of life, e.g. birth (or rebirth) in the first book. Originally, three books, corresponding to summer, autumn, and winter, were planned, but this number grew to accommodate the expanded story.

Another topic of the game is the stories as such and how they become reality. In the game, the realm of "Storytime" is "the place where every story begins, and where dreams come to life", and the developers cite the Australian Aboriginal mythology as inspiration (see Dreamtime).

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The Longest Journey series as a whole is rooted in a predeterministic philosophy, which compares life to a journey with a set destination, wherein a person may choose their course freely but will ultimately arrive to a "predestined place". In Dreamfall Chapters, this philosophy is expressed in the player characters' ability to make story-altering decisions, which, however, have no effect upon the ending.

The megacity of Europolis is presented as "Europe [...] finally paying the price for hundreds of years of imperialism, reactionary politics, wasteful spending and industrialisation". In an interview, Ragnar Tørnquist said that "there's definitely a political element to Dreamfall Chapters, as there was to Dreamfall as well."

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Release

Dreamfall Chapters was initially announced as an episodic video game, but this idea was scrapped in favor of a full-length game when the pre-production started in 2012, because the developers felt that extended breaks between chapters would have negatively affected the story flow and pacing. However, faced with mounting production costs, RTG decided in June 2014 to return to the episodic format. The first "book", subtitled Reborn, was released on 21 October 2014, and the remaining four are to be delivered at later, unannounced dates. The subtitle of Book Two was announced on 26 November 2014, and its release date, on 19 February 2015.

Although DRM-free digital distribution is the default distribution model, several limited boxed editions were offered as incentives to the supporters on Kickstarter. These range from the simple Collector's Edition to the expansive "Draic Kin Edition", containing a variety of digital and physical bonus materials. The physical backer rewards are to ship after the (digital) release of all five "books". On 17 April 2013, Dreamfall Chapters was cleared on the Steam Greenlight process, allowing the game to be distributed via this platform when released.







This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Dreamfall Chapters, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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