Today, I'm reviewing two games at once. The Longest Journey, and Dreamfall: The Longest Journey. Let me start by saying that I greatly enjoyed both of these adventure games, even though I usually prefer something more action based. Both games are available for PC and purchasable through Steam. Dreamfall is also available on the original Xbox (also works on the Xbox 360), and can also be downloaded through Xbox live for the 360. There is no excuse, if you have an Xbox or a gaming PC that's less than six years old, you will be able to play these game.
I'll start with The Longest Journey. This game was released in 2000 for the PC only. Pretty much any computer around these days should be able to handle it. It is a point-and-click adventure game, which means you control the main character - April Ryan - by clicking where you want to go and on what you want to interact with. You also gain various items and use them to solve most of the puzzles. You will also occasionally combine these items. The main challenge comes through the various puzzles you'll face. To avoid spoiling too much of the story, there are two parallel worlds - one logical and scientific (Stark), the other magical and somewhat chaotic (Acadia). These two worlds used to be one, however they were separated until they are ready to be re-combined. April Ryan (whom you control) is a "Shifter", which means she can warp between worlds, well...once she learns how to control it anyway. The "Balance" (which is protecting the worlds from each other until they are ready,) is failing, and it is up to April to fix the balance. Very few Sci-Fi or Fantasy games create a fully convincing world...this game manages to create two and tie them together.
What really makes this game work though is A) A very strong and rich storyline, B) Tons of memorable secondary characters (several of which are hilarious), and C) Very well designed visuals and backgrounds. The puzzles also logical and do a great job at explaining themselves, although they still get challenging. For a game designed by a new company back in 2000, the visuals are very impressive, and while the 3d modeling looks a bit old, the backgrounds still look great. Long story short, if you like a good story, play it. If you feel kind of iffy on the point-and-click gameplay I described, there is a demo at this link - http://www.longestjourney.
Now for Dreamfall: The Longest Journey. Story wise, it takes place ten years after "The Longest Journey." This game was very well received by both critics and players, however it didn't sell as well as it should of. Anyway, in this game, you use three playable characters: Zoe, Kian, and April from the first game. This time round it is a third person adventure game, however you still collect and combine items while solving puzzles. This game also has a simplistic combat system, using a rock-paper-scissors type formula.
While the visuals look somewhat dated, the environments still look great and convincing. Again, like "The Longest Journey", Dreamfall manages to make both worlds convincing. Again, if I say much about the story it will spoil pretty much everything, and the same goes for what Zoe's special power is. I can say that both worlds are in peril, and while I'm not quite sure how, their problems are somehow connected. Kia is another very interesting character. Unlike April and Zoe, Kia has no special powers, and has lived his entire life in Acadia. He starts the story off as a well respected servant to what seems like an evil empire, but ends up questioning the motives of the Empire's leaders by the game's ending.
Everything that made the first game good still applies here. If I have any complaints about this game, they are that A) the combat system is a bit weak. It works for what it is, and you wouldn't want an overly complicated system in an adventure game like this, but it is still a bit weak. B) The cliffhanger-ish ending seemed a bit rushed and leaves too much unsolved. However, the journey throughout the game is definitely worth it, and the journey will soon be continued in episodic form. I actually played this one before "The Longest Journey", and yet everything still made enough sense for me. It also made me want to play the first game, and I'm glad I did. Again, there is a free trial available at - http://www.dreamfall.com/
My two word review/order - Play it
Like I mentioned earlier, they are working on an episodic completion to the story. They will likely start working on it by the summer of next year (after they finish another game they are working on), and I am looking forward to it.