Dreamfall Chapters news comes rarely, and often without detail, but Funcom's Ragnar Tørnquist has sneaked out a couple more bits and pieces. Bits and pieces he's quick to stress are unofficial, from him, and not representative of Funcom. First and foremost, that it definitely still exists. In the sense that it hasn't been given up on. While Funcom is in a bit of turmoil, making a sizeable loss and losing their CFO, it's good to know that Tørnquist and his The Secret World team (who have a lot in common with his Dreamfall team) are still continuing at full speed. And it's good to know that the thinking is long-term, and that Chapters is still to come. Now a few more details about how Chapters will work have appeared.
Perhaps the most frustrating, and the most exciting bit of news in there is that Dreamfall Chapters will not tie up the story. Despite being episodic, and despite having a definitive ending itself, it won't be the big finale. That is, says Tørnquist, for The Longest Journey 2.
"It will have a proper-and-final end to it (sort of) though you may have to wait for The Longest Journey 2 (Dreamfall, at least in my head, wasn’t TLJ 2) for the conclusion to every single storyline. I hope Chapters can keep running for a good while, since there are tons and tons of stories we’d like to explore before wrapping up that part of the TLJ universe. Big stories and small stories from every corner of Stark and Arcadia…and beyond."
So what will Chapters consist of? Ragnar writes on his blog,
"There’s already a story - or multiple stories, to be more precise - in place. It’s going to pick up right where the last one ended. (It will even rewind a bit and take a look at the events in Dreamfall from a different perspective.) It will follow several different characters, both old and new, and there will be more overlapping paths and storylines."
Of course, Dreamfall made some... awkward choices. The action, and more specifically the combat, didn't work. (Tørnquist slightly disagrees, of course.) So what about combat in Chapters? Please say none, please say none, please say none...
"Chapters will mix puzzles and exploration and conversations and mini-games and action, though the combat will be completely revamped and won’t feel like typical action-adventure combat (or be completely broken)."
I dunno. I've seen every single adventure game that promises atypical combat fall on its arse in that area, whether it's Fahrenheit's moronic Simon Says-athon, or Penumbra's flailing around with a pick axe like a frightened old lady trying to swat away a moth with a barge pole. (Both remain decent games, of course.) He'd better have something pretty darned impressive in mind, because otherwise there's trouble. Or, and this might just seem crazy, actually be a third-person action game, that uses the themes of an adventure? Beyond Good & Evil, everyone. Beyond Good & Evil. That said, he does seem to be going in a third-person direction, but the following doesn't clear much up.
"I have some cool ideas that I think you’ll all approve of (even those of you who abhor fighting; mixing puzzles, problem solving and good, old fashioned violence - and avoiding QTEs). It will look and play and feel like an adventure game, but a modern one: it won’t be point-and-click but it won’t use the focus field either, at least not in the same way. It will be third person. In terms of controls, it will be like Dreamfall, but with tons of tweaks."
That made me dizzy. Tørnquist is looking to go cross-platform, but keeping it all digital. There's a mention of the P-word below, let's just skip over it - we're talking about a game that's not even in the early stages of development, and it's too Friday a day for that fight.
"Yes, it’s going to be episodic and you’ll need to be online to get it and possibly to play it (sorry; piracy is an enormous problem for us and Dreamfall suffered massively because of it). As well as being available for Windows (and I would hope, at least in the long term, Mac) I’d love to see it distributed through Xbox Live, PSN - the Wii Store, if at all feasible. It’ll be the kind of game that can and should appeal to a diverse audience and thus would benefit from broad distribution in all channels."
My only concern about "appeal" is the amount of back story someone's going to need. Dreamfall technically could be played as a standalone game, but you would have spent a really rather large amount of the time going, "Who's April? Why is there a blue man? Who is this crow? Why is that lady a dragon?" If Chapters is going to try to appeal to a big, broad audience across platforms neither previous game has appeared on, then it's either going to have to do a remarkable amount of exposition, or not be the direct continuation fans might be hoping for.
Anyway, this is all wild speculation based on an unofficial blog post about a game that's not even in the design stages. So let's not get too carried away. And you know what? I trust Tørnquist. The Longest Journey remains my all-time favourite gaming experience, and for all the problems Dreamfall had, I cannot think of any story in any game that came close to being that emotive and enticing. Assuming that TSW is going to take at least another year (it's hard to be sure, since the official site has rather cunningly put its countdown clock in a made up language), the Chapters is still something that won't happen until a way into the next decade. Which puts The Longest Journey 2 at around 2031. Pre-order your copy now.