Dreamfall Chapters Book One: Reborn
Book One is a tiny taste of what's coming. It's delectably delicious and I'd love to rate it higher, but at this point, it's hard to say whether Dreamfall Chapters will be filling and satisfying - or if it'll leave us feeling a little empty.
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.
Perhaps the game's greatest success is the sense of exquisite history and continuity carried through in the excellent writing:
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.
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.
Judged on its own, Dreamfall Chapters - Book One: Reborn falls flat, and will confuse series newcomers.
An impenetrable start for non-fans, but there's enough potential here to hope that subsequent episodes make this a dream everyone can share in.
Dreamfall Chapters: Book One: Reborn is an intriguing addition to the franchise. But be warned, it's best played with some knowledge of the previous games in the series.
Most importantly, the story still has intricacies and a powerful emotional core, and after a decade and a half, I'm still happy to wait for an ending, even if this one was a little abrupt. Whatever levity and controversy occurs between now and then, I don't expect a dry eye in the house when that ending comes because I'm becoming convinced that this is a story about letting go – of life and of creations – and the inevitable consequence of growing up and coming of age.