The Longest Walkthrough: 30 Minutes Of Dreamfall

By Adam Smith on January 8th, 2014 at 12:00 pm.

I always knew that I’d be playing a new Dreamfall game one day. That’s partly because I am a creature of unshakeable optimism but it’s also because Ragnar Tørnquist had a cheeky sparkle in his eye when I asked him how long we’d be waiting for a continuation of the story back in the days before Red Thread existed. On the question of Dreamfall, he had this to say:

We are definitely doing something more with it and I have the design on my computer but we just need to find the right time and the right people. Hopefully within a couple of years it’ll be something we are working on.

Two years later, that design is only a few months away from being on our computers. I’ve embedded a half hour walkthrough of an early area below. It’s looking damn fine.

A reminder that all footage is pre-alpha.

There are two versions of the video, one with developer commentary and one without. The commentary isn’t particularly intrusive, leaving room for dialogue to be heard (and there are subtitles as well). I’d recommend watching and listening first because there are some useful insights into design choices. The area is Friar’s Keep and the playable character is Kian Alvane, a returning cast member from Dreamfall.

There are light spoilers, of course, since an area of the game is shown, but the pace is slow and, final moments aside, the direction is predictable enough. Tonally, the humour is there, even though the scene is unpleasant and harsh, and the dialogue froths with filth. If there are any nuns in the room, block their ears before pressing play and harrumph loudly whenever somebody refers to ‘unclean genitals’ or posteriors.

For those who don’t care for commentary, here’s the clean version.

As well as demonstrating that the new control scheme and viewing angle doesn’t prevent traditional inventory-based puzzling, the walkthrough shows off the dialogue system. I knew it was visually similar to Mass Effect’s ‘wheel’ but hadn’t known about the internal thoughts processes that accompany the decision-making process. It’s a clever addition, giving the characters a stronger sense of independent thought while also allowing the player to make informed choices rather than staring at the screen aghast when clicking ‘threaten’ causes bones to be broken and mothers to be denigrated.

Here’s the point where I admit that the musical theme at the beginning of the video already makes my throat clench up and all the world’s grit to gravitate toward my eye.

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31 Comments »

  1. orient says:

    If someone told me 3 years ago that I’d be playing Broken Sword 5, Dreamfall Chapters and a new Tex Murphy game in 2014 I would’ve performed an aggressive karate chop in their direction and told them to stop being so cruel. Dreams, they come true people.

  2. lowprices says:

    Eeeeeeeeeee! I pledged a frankly embarrassing amount of money to the Kickstarter, so I’m glad this is looking fine. Time to replay the first two, methinks.

    EDIT: In the spirit of replaying the first games, I’m surprised Funcom or Red Thread aren’t doing a Monkey Island-style remaster of the first game. I’d certainly buy it.

    • RagnarT says:

      But the first game still looks lovely! I’m not a big fan of these ‘HD remasters’. Sometimes the soul of the game is lost in the process. Take the Gabriel Knight remake, for example. I miss the grainy, messy, soulful backgrounds of the original.

      • KenTWOu says:

        But lowprices was talking about Monkey Island-style remastering. Both Monkey islands have instant vanilla mode which can be accessed by pressing one button in any moment of the game. It’s really hard to lose the soul when HD remake was made that way.

        2lowprices, Monkey Island-style remastering is not cheap, rumors say it’s not profitable either.

        • mouton says:

          Original TLJ is much more modern than original Monkey Islands, though. While some kind of facelift seldom hurts, the game is not that old to mandate a full remake.

  3. Soulstrider says:

    I just hope the dialogue is in alpha too, because I have very fond memories of TLJ and Dreamfall, and this dialogue is just so awkward and cringe worthy.

    This has been the only Kickstarter I have ever supported so don’t fail me on this.

    • AngoraFish says:

      There is no way that at this stage in development dialogue is in alpha. Dialogue is more or less the first thing to be locked in.

      Tragically, you are correct, the dialogue is horribly repititive, clunky and cliched, not to mention failng the most critical principle of such things – “show, don’t tell”.

      • Nickless_One says:

        oh well, mm, quite

      • RagnarT says:

        While you’re right in that the dialogue in this chapter is close to final, in general the dialogue isn’t the first thing to get locked down. As the design changes through iterations and testing, so do the words. Oftentimes — at least in our games — significant portions of the dialogue come in at the very end.

        As for the dialogue being “horribly repititive, clunky and cliched”, I feel it’s quite close in tone to the dialogue in TLJ and Dreamfall, something we’ve been striving for. As always, there’s a lot of it, and, sure, there are more words than absolutely necessary, but then we do like words a lot. And a lot of players tend to agree.

        Some of the voice-acting in the current version isn’t final, however; most crucially that of the dying prisoner. Which makes it a bit hard to listen to at times. We might re-record some other bits, too, as the characters evolve and grow.

        But, in general, we’re quite happy with this, and we hope everyone will enjoy the final result, later this year.

        • Soulstrider says:

          Glad to hear that at least the voice acting wasn’t final, it quite bothered me. Still for example the part where they were trying to convince the warden it just didn’t really feel right, I mean the logic process behind it was ok but the arguments they made with it just didn’t feel compelling to be honest.

          Dreamfall is one of my favorite games of all time and I really want to get the magical feel I got from that game (Yep I am on of those rare people who enjoyed Dreamfall more than TLJ)

  4. Don Reba says:

    A little slow. This was posted on GameSpot on December 20.

  5. kael13 says:

    Main character sounds a little like Thorin Oakenshield. Not a bad thing! I like the Mass Effect wheel convos with the character’s thoughts idea. However, I’d change it so it doesn’t so readily repeat the dialogue lines when flicking between them.

    • Geebs says:

      Kian sits down and starts singing about gold

    • RagnarT says:

      We’re going to clean up the dialogue choice mechanics quite a bit, to avoid the constant line-repetitions. This is a pre-alpha, and it’s a version from back in October, so there will be quite a few changes to the GUI and gameplay mechanics before release.

  6. Noviere says:

    Kian sounds like Sean Bean… Which is to say, nothing like his original voice :( It’s just a place holder, right?

    • RagnarT says:

      No, we’ve recast the part. Yes, he sounds a bit different from the original Kian, but that’s a conscious choice. The character has changed quite a bit, a year in prison will do that, so we took this opportunity to get an actor more suited to the ‘new’ Kian.

  7. psepho says:

    Please let it be good…

    I played Dreamfall last autumn and found it really disappointing. The story was great but as a player I felt I was totally excluded from it by the end, which ruined it for me. I wrote a longish blogpost on the topic (follow my name link).

    • shadow9d9 says:

      Dreamfall was garbage. That is why I have no idea has any faith that this would be better or why they would back them.

      TLJ was fantastic.

      • psepho says:

        I don’t think it was garbage, it had a lot of promise and the story was great — I just felt like it wasted its videogameness and alienated me as a player.

        • RagnarT says:

          Point taken, and I do think you’ll enjoy Dreamfall Chapters quite a bit more. We’ve learned a lot.

          • psepho says:

            Well, I will definitely play it — you’ve got me by the short and curlies, narratively speaking, in that I have to know what happens next!

      • Geebs says:

        I bounced off both. Dreamfall was just dull, TLJ had enough stupid pixel-hunting for objects you didn’t know you needed for illogical puzzles to murder the plot, autopsy it, arrange an inquest, inter it, suspect a miscarriage of justice, disinter it and then bury it again and apologise to the family

    • Carra says:

      Prepared for the new game by playing Dreamfall two months ago.

      It’s a good game, especially the characters and story are well worked out. The puzzles are rather easy, I only got stuck on two puzzles. And of course, they should have just left out the fighting, it doesn’t work.

      More an interactive movie than a game but that’s fine with me, the Telltale games aren’t that much different in this respect.

  8. Sardonic says:

    They better not put in the same sort of combat they had in the last game, what a joke that was.

    • RagnarT says:

      There won’t be any combat whatsoever. It’s all exploration, conversations, choices (and consequences) and story-driven puzzles.

      • tumbleworld says:

        That’s good news. It always felt out of place to me in Dreamfall, and after the fantastic sense of story and place conjured in TSW, I’m very excited for Chapters.

        I’m hoping that some puzzles will have different solution options to reflect different play attitudes. I know that’s not the norm with adventure games, but TLJ/DF have always had such strong narrative drive that they’ve felt like some sort of hybrid with a more story-led environment.

        That’s probably why the dialogue puzzle with the warden left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. I didn’t entirely buy Kian’s reasoning — surely if the riot will spill up, the best thing to do is leave the door locked and get the hell out — and it seemed massively ungracious of him to then aggress the warden. It felt as if there ought to have been some sort of comparatively neutral option. Of course, maybe Kian is supposed to be a rage-poisoned monster dick, but it definitely didn’t help me sympathise with the guy.

        Then again, I did rather hope that after the fourth time of looking out of the window, Kian was going to get shot through the forehead :)

  9. Stardreamer says:

    Dreamfall was an odd beast. Enjoyable, but very odd. And that ending…to this day I can’t say I understood it or even liked it.

    Maybe it’s time to play it again, remind myself. Oh, and does anyone know of a graphical mod for TLJ? It’s a pretty beastly experience by modern standards.

  10. sorsha06 says:

    So awesome. I was so loyal to funcom after the Longest Journey came out. First, it was an amazing game. Second, when my third CD proved defective they sent me a burned copy on an official funcom cdr as a replacement, straight from Norway. The best!

  11. pilouuuu says:

    I think they got the dialogue wheel right and hopefully the choice and consequence stuff. I especially like the interface.

    Unlike some modern adventures like The Walking Dead it seems to include real puzzles, while at the same time focusing on the story and characters. I also hope it won’t commit the same mistake as TWD in which your choices didn’t mean shit. Maybe this game will have multiple and different endings?

    Dreamfall Chapters (and its prequels) shows how you can show an amazing place, with interesting characters in an adventure game. Bioshock Infinite would have been so much better if it were something like this in which you could have fight if you took the wrong decisions, instead of the dumb FPS it is. This is how you do multiple words!

    I can’t wait! I hope Dreamfall Chapters turns out to be an amazing game!

  12. DatonKallandor says:

    It’s still ridiculous that they’re focusing this on Zoe’s story and pushing April’s off into “maybe we’ll do it later, and if we do we’ll do it in 2D on the cheap”. The Kickstarter was for Dreamfall, and if anything Dreamfall finished Zoe’s story and left Aprils hanging in the first act.

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