Dreamfall is the sequel to a pretty classic 2D adventure game, The Longest Journey. It would be a good idea to play both since the stories relate, yet playing only the second can also be a very interesting experience. Its narrative and characters are what make this game great – while the gameplay might be a bit frustrating and sometimes slow. Definitely a good choice for those that enjoy long dialogues, a multitude of wonderful different environments and parallel stories that eventually intersect! (PS: unfortunately the trailer doesn’t really do the game justice)
In the last years I’ve stumbled across a couple of indie games i found pretty original: Samorost and Machinarium (link to demos). They both have an original and funny story, great music and sounds and really interesting puzzles. So, I’ve finally decided to check their background and it turned out they belong to the same company: Amanita Design – an independent Czech video game developing company founded in 2003. These two games are their most popular and have an impressive number of awards.
I also recommend checking out their short animations and flash sites, resembling much of the feeling of the games. As a side note, Machinarium is also availabe for Linux and Mac OS X!
When I first played this game I had absolutely no idea what to expect and I found it rather confusing. Perhaps this is what the creators intended, but I think that certain guidelines could help avoid the feeling of disappointment or frustration one might get after exploring the game’s world for a couple of hours without any clear conclusions. Nevertheless I found the concept very original and, even though it was a bit too gloomy for my taste, I definitely enjoyed the few hours spent with it.
So, first of all, this is not a <<game>> in the real sense of the word: you are not there to fight enemies, get to the next level, solve hard puzzles, etc; it’s all about exploring a surrealist land, guided by some abstract thoughts and poems and the beautiful/creepy visual and sound effects. In short, it’s more like an interactive independent short film. It can be a delight for those who enjoy long walks in the woods, the slowness of old art movies and gothic poetry.
And last but not least, taken into consideration that it was awarded the Best Sound and Best Design an International Video Game Festival from Spain it’s definitely worth giving it a try!
This game had some tough competition in it’s age… Did i love arcanum as much as Fallout 2? Nope. Did i respect it as much as Planescape or even Baldur’s gate 2… nope… and yet it had something very very unique. Half of it was the music i will never forget… from the initial crash to the main menu, and all the game was infused with the very sad melancholic violin music… that and it’s fantastic immersion for me (personal story probably) with it’s main character… how fitting it was for the game that I played a necromancer (though with time i know now the conjuration school is more for me… or which one was the one with fireballs and the one with nature?) … anyway… the music and it’s VERY different story line made it a unforgettable experience in my mind (the end game moral choice was so very hard for me… the fact that i was given to make a choice taht was so messed up and what i chose will probably stay with me foreverz)…
Also found some high quality versions of the music on grooveshark so here it is, the whole soundtrack, turns out the author is named Ben Houge… don’t see anythign else by him, but respects go out for his work.
PS: i’ll never forget the game experience where the game world being torn between magic and technology i was told that as a mage i should go in the back of the train so my magic doesn’t disturb the technology and in the end they forbid me completely if i remember right. Very nice tension there.
The good news: the game has amazing atmosphere like few games others do, particularly in the “visit a spooky village where everything is sorta strange but not quite in your face” type of horror. Also the retro-ish atmosphere surprisingly works and the freedom to investigate stuff provides quite a good immersion again.
However, I’m afraid in (rather frequent in the industry) case of developers not wanting to understand the meaning of the word “easy” later on the game gets pretty hard and due to game mechanics I was pretty much stopped from enjoying what would have otherwise been a quite good story and moving experience that I was quite curious to continue.
It’s a tragedy how quickly games “grow old”… well, it’s also great news of the speed of their evolution, but what I mean to say is that I understand how hard it is even a few years later to see the beauty in something that by our present standards is antiquated. So I was very happy when I saw somebody writing about this one because I thought it is an amazing masterpiece. If you’re willing to overlook it’s age the graphics is superb, original, the story is shockingly interesting and the music creates a mood that I’d call one of the best “gothic” moods I’ve ever experienced. Unluckily for me I never did finish it. I was sure I had gotten close but now looking around the web it seems the game is even more huge and awesome than I experienced… just had to write about it a bit…
Some screenshots from the game can be seen here.
Reading it’s wikipedia page I realize the main character is a true anti-hero, and since I’ve played this quite a long time ago, but blogged about it quite recently I’m reminded of a quote which I believe is from Anne Rice’s vampire books which (i think) goes something like: ‘over the centuries we don’t change, but become more and more ourselves’.