57: Two More Days in Arcadia

"Ever tried to watch all three extended editions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy? That's the filmic equivalent. It was with this mindset that I began to play 'Dreamfall: The Longest Journey,' the sequel to my favorite game of all time. Tom Rhodes spends "Two More Days in Arcadia."

Two More Days in Arcadia

Heh, Tom... I read your comments about Stephen King's "Dark Tower" trilogy.

Ironically, I thought the very ending (the specific fate of Roland) was the only ending of the story that could ever exist -- it hurt to read, but was as "inevitable" as Neo's fate in The Matrix series -- but I found the entire last book very unsatisfying. It started well, Mordred was played out horrifically, but the whole book (and thus the series) seemed to wind down as it went to go out finally as a whimper.

That much was sad, based on the how excellent the early books (such as Drawing of the Three or Wizard & Glass) were. I appreciate King finishing the series rather than dying on us prematurely :) but think his rushing into finishing them did really reduce what they might have been. (Wolves of the Calla had to be one of the worst, non-immersive, boring books I have ever struggled through in my life.)

Sigh.

"So, remember my words the next time you're hoping for a sequel: The original was much better."

In terms of Dreamfall, I have to say I disagree.

First, I don't share your disdain at Zoe being a 'goth chick' (the only thing goth about her was her dark eyeliner), I liked Zoe a lot! I thought she was a very believable character, very honest, caring, she had her believable flaws--I thought she was a great character, and much prettier than April! She acted in a very believable way to the situation she was thrown into, much like I would've acted myself. Her feeling of being 'lost' and needing some drive or direction in life is something I connected with her as well, being a college student, and not really knowing where the hell I'm going in life most of the time.

Second, I enjoyed the game very much. I thought the story was nothing short of brilliant. Keeping in mind this was to be a middle of the triology, you can't expect an outright conclusion to the story, in fact you'd have to expect a cliffhanger, wouldn't you? And to compare this to Tolkien would just be unfair, thats a novel, and this is more of a movie, you dont have that much narrative space to expand as much as you'd like. And the cliffhanger made me want to play the next game, to find out more, I think if that weren't the case, then yes, I'd agree with you that Tornquist failed in Dreamfall, but that didn't happen, I want TLJ3, like, now, more than ever.

Many people think Empire Strikes Back as their favorite of the flicks, and that movie left you in a definite cliffhanger, yet it was fulfilling. I think the same goes for Dreamfall. It answered a lot, but also posed some very big questions. All of which will be answered in the final game.

And yes the 'gameplay' wasn't really there, the puzzles were easy and somtimes way too simple but they were logical and realistic (I'd take it over another 'take this rubber tube to make a balloon to knock off a ball to break open the door kinda thing), the controls were clumsy, combat was a joke, sneaking 'missions' were a pain, and the facial expressions were boring... but the voice acting was brilliant, the graphics were amazing, the music was out of this world, and the story was engaging and memorable, like a novel, but in graphic form. Like your theme this issue, I'd have to say the game got me immersed. That's why I loved adventure games then, and nothing has changed now.

So no I'd have to disagree with this one. I loved Dreamfall, I don't mind the ending--It asks a lot of questions, and just like a good book, or TV series, just makes me want to know what happens next.

I agree (with dacster, that is..)

It is true that Dreamfall has imperfections, big ones at that, but these become utterly insignificant when put next to the experience Dreamfall offers. If you didn't think much of the plot then maybe it's just a matter of personal taste, but I think Dreamfall has probably left more of a lasting impression on me than most, if not all, other games I've played. The fact that I'm still thinking (not to mention posting) about it three months after completing it (twice) probably demonstrates that somewhat.

But, yeah, moan about the controls and the graphics - they moaned about the graphics and AI in Deus Ex, they moaned about the delivery system of Half Life 2, they moaned about everything in Shenmue but I'd take any of those over a perfectly polished yet average game.

It's true that if a game is spectacular enough, you can overlook a few flaws, even horrible flaws. Psychonauts with it's horrendously difficult final level comes to mind here, as do a few other great games which were hamstrung by inattention to detail, or lack of adequate funding, time or whatever.

But here's the thing, and I've said this before and I'll probably say it again: If we, as gamers, stop giving the content producers a free pass on making imperfect, unfinished games, they'll stop making imperfect, unfinished games.

I do not consider it acceptable to have to download a patch in order to play a game for which I've spent good money. I do not consider it acceptable to spend money on a game only to find that the company making it has gone out of business before actually finishing it, yet the publisher pushed it out anyway, and is expecting the mod community to save their ass because the concept was brilliant and people would rather spend their nights and weekends making their own patches than never "get to play it."

There are a lot of games out there, and many of them are finished, polished and still good. I prefer to play those because I consider my time too valuable to waste playing an unfinished or irritatingly broken game for the sake of a romatic ideal. I will, however, probably continue to pick up the occasional game that's brilliant, yet still flawed, because I'm human and I do stupid things all the time. But I will not cease complaining about it. Would you buy a car that wouldn't start? How about a movie with a bug that prevented it from playing in your DVD player? Of course not. They why do we do so with games? We shouldn't.

Well well well, what have I done? Hee hee.

Okay, first off: dacster, I said that April was like a dour goth chick, not Zoe. I quite liked Zoe, actually.

Also, you said, "this is more of a movie, you dont have that much narrative space to expand as much as you'd like." True, this is not a novel, but it's not a movie, either. The original game managed, for me at least, to provide a great setup, journey, and conclusion to what was happening. In fact, as I said in my prior article on the subject, I think it was and is the best game ever made. Also, since this IS a game, not a movie, there really is time to craft something satisfying. Even then, plenty of mid-point movies have satisfied me with character development while making me want more (like Empire Strikes Back and the film version of Two Towers), but this just didn't.

And yes, of course I expected a cliffhanger. But, as cliffhangers go, it didn't move me like so many others. Things felt not nearly as important or worthwhile as in the first game, which they should have, considering it's the middle part of another planned game. Perhaps when (if) the third comes out, I shall be proven wrong, and the three of them together will be the greatest gaming experience evarz, but this sequel has given me pause.

zuben:

I could accept those things (though I agree with Fletcher that we shouldn't give developers a free pass just cause most things are in working order), if not for the fact that the story disappointed me.

For me, Half-Life 2 had a huge flaw when I first played it: the stutter issue so many people complained about. It has since (mostly) been resolved, but trying to play with st-st-st-st-stuttering happening every few moments was like a carnival through gamer hell.

But the story engaged me, as well as the excellent gameplay, so I gave it a pass until more patches and things emerged. But when the story and immersion are lacking, those other flaws almost seem magnified, which is why I felt the need to include them in the article.

I enjoyed the story very much and even though it wasn't as breathtaking as the original one, it was still one of the best crafted worlds in an adventure game, or any game for that matter.

What I didn't like was the implementation, lack of real puzzles and the combat part which was so insignificant that for the same reason should have been left out. Maybe if the fighting was actualy fun, those few fights would be a great chance to show some action can't realy hurt a good adventure, but this way, it's even worse, it's completly redundant.

There is one game where I liked the sequel more than the original, it was Max Payne, if for no other reason, but because there was no underground factory killing 200 special forces mercenarys level.

 

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