Dreamfall Chapters Book One: Reborn
The first episode marks the beginning of what may be an epic adventure, but falls flat. Most of the time is spent reacquainting ourselves with the characters and narrative, which isn't inherently a bad thing after eight long years.
On the whole the team at Red Thread Games has done an incredible job updating The Longest Journey for the modern era. With graphical fidelity to match any AAA game and a strong aesthetic sense informing its visual direction, Dreamfall Chapters is one of the few games this year that I'd call beautiful. But underneath those modern trappings lies the same foundation of smart, profound storytelling that made the series so great in the first place. Unfortunately, this first episode ends a little prematurely, and it feels like we've yet to reach the real meat of the experience.
I have no qualms about saying this is one of the best-written, best-voiced, and best-structured adventure series in all of gaming, and from this initial chapter I expect the same quality from Dreamfall: Chapters. If you haven't played The Longest Journey and Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, maybe check them out. And if you have? Well, there's still four chapters to go, but as far as I can tell this is the sequel you've been awaiting for seven years.
Perhaps the game's greatest success is the sense of exquisite history and continuity carried through in the excellent writing:
Open a new adventure to Storytime – just don't expect to find many answers yet!
An imperfect but atmospheric opening song to Chapters
It feels like it's playing things a little safe and is here just to reacquaint us with the world(s), with minimal progression and a lot of scene setting. Your enjoyment will really depend on how invested you already are. But this is just a beginning, for both the series and for the characters and story within. New directions are being taken and you can be damn sure we want to stick around for the ride.
From my time with Book One, experimenting with the multiple choices that can affect the outcome of the story, Dreamfall's Chapters is going to be a pleasure to experience. The beautiful design of the game and the interesting way that it handles characterisation and narrative has me looking forward to seeing Book Two with baited breath.
As cliché as it is to say, good things come to those who wait. With an expertly written narrative, a brilliantly realised location in Europolis, and subtly far-reaching choices to make even at this stage, Book One: Reborn is an excellent return to The Longest Journey saga. In fact, if this is reflective of the episodes to come, Dreamfall Chapters could end up being a masterclass in adventure gaming
Even after such a long wait, and with a hazy memory of the past titles, Dreamfall Chapters Book One: Reborn proves to be a major success, working just as well, in fact, as a standalone product thanks to the Story Recap option filling some blanks for newcomers and the writing being clever enough to not leave fresh faces bewildered. Smooth controls, stunning visuals, and fantastic audio direction all make for a special adventure, albeit one with one or two fetch-quests too many included. Conversation threads may prove too wordy for some, yet others that are eager to get lost in the lore, and learn more about the world they are stepping into, will be exhilarated. This is definitely not for those wanting to rush through to the end; taking the time to savour the overall excellence of the package is ideal - feel the love that has been poured into it, and get ready for Book Two: Rebels.