Dreamfall: The Longest Journey website
I am a fan of computer games. I enjoy playing them and consider them to be an excellent source of entertainment, and a great way to relax. Many of my friends do not feel this way, they see games as “geeky”, indeed sometimes games are perceived as offensive. The reason I mention this is because Dreamfall is one of those wonderful games which I believe could bridge this gap between gamers and non gamers. The game demands that you view games (or at least, this game) in a different light.
Dreamfall is not simply a game to be played, it’s a story that unfolds, it’s an extensive world which has been created for you to explore and discover. In many ways I could describe Dreamfall as an interactive movie, the purpose of the game is to tell you a story, and the means of telling you that story is through your own interactions with the world and all of the many people in it. The game is entirely linear, and there is little else to do within the game except progress the storyline, so the pace is very much dictated for you and the plot is not optional. In this respect, Dreamfall is very alike to films. The difference however, is a powerful one, and the reason I think this is a game that will appeal to “non gamers”.
First of all, unlike a film, Dreamfall is extremely long. My total playtime so far is almost 9 hours, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I have as much again to come. For this reason the game has to be broken up, you simply can’t enjoy all of it at once (unless you don’t need to sleep, eat, or work!). But by far the most important difference is that you actually have to do something to move things along. There are puzzles for you to solve, errands for you to run, people for you to speak with. And whilst these tasks are never too complex, they are engaging. The game requires very little skill, so it’s easy to access for someone who isn’t used to playing games, but the interaction which is required serves to immerse you in the world that is created in Dreamfall. This immersion which can only come from you taking an active part in the story means that you have an increased empathy for the characters involved, you have a strong desire to see what happens next, because it’s happening to you! This connection with the world and characters is something that can only be achieved by a game, no film can engage you in such a way because you have absolutely no control over a film, no say in the outcome.
Dreamfall as a game lacks any challenge, it’s linear and there is nothing that will tax your brain for more than a few minutes. But Dreamfall as entertainment is pure genius, it’s engaging and intriguing, the characters you control (there are three of them) have a history which you catch glimpses of. The whole world has a background which has been developed and thought about carefully (Dreamfall is actually a sequel to an older game), and the characters are believable and easy to empathise with (even though the world is fantasy). You care what happens to them, and in the few moments when you are faced with choices they are difficult ones. Do you trust this stranger who is offering you help? Do you set this prisoner free even though it will cost you your life? These decisions are important, and they depend entirely on who you think the character is, it’s your choice!
So if you aren’t a gamer, I hope you will consider checking this game out anyway, and if you are a gamer, take a break from shooting things and relax as this beautifully worked story unfolds on your screen.