Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Dreamfall Chapters Book Two Review

Dreamfall Chapters continues from a solid start in book one into an engaging and truly satisfying experience in book two.

In book two, Zoe's story continues to entertain and the new characters she meets are all strange and interesting. I wasn't sold on Kian's story in the first book, but he's given a chance to shine here, and we're introduced to fantastic characters in his book as well. Both characters find themselves in the middle of a class war, with the government and corporations controlling the lives of the citizens in Stark and the militaristic Azadi forcing the magical folk out of the villages and into prison camps in Arcadia. Things soon get even grimmer, as both Zoe and Kian find themselves in the middle of conspiracies in their respective worlds.

The voice work is once again exceptional here, with the voice actors for both Zoe and Kian performing their roles admirably. The newly introduced characters are excellently written, but their voice performances are what truly make them memorable. This is especially true of the energetic, excitable young rebel named Eno and the tough, scarred rebel named Likho, the latter of whom had a troubled history with Kian before he changed sides and joined the rebels. The voice actor for the former gives her character a fast-talking yet cute persona, which reminded me a bit of the character of Six from the classic 90s American television sitcom, Blossom. Meanwhile, the voice actor for the latter provides his character with a gravitas that is matched only by his baritone voice, both of which are quite fitting for the battle-hardened warrior.

The music is also excellent, helping to give levity or amusement to the fantastically written story and working to help elevate the wonderful voice acting to even loftier heights.

The puzzles in this book are fantastic, especially the underground hatch puzzles that Zoe undertakes when she is directed toward a street gang by an enigmatic merchant who lives on a houseboat in the city's Asian district. The choices here don't seem to change much of the main story, but they do affect the way the characters react to you, much like the games by Telltale from The Walking Dead forward. This actually works quite well, as the story of the game is so emotional, and the characters are so well-written and acted, you can't help but feeling gut-punched when you make a choice that results in a negative reaction.

The city on the technologically-advanced Stark side is just as beautiful and fun to walk around as ever. On the Arcadia side, as it is themed akin to a medieval village, it's not quite as beautiful and it does get repetitive at times. However, the magical market, while quite a small part of the overall village, is quite lively and wonderfully designed. The same can't be said for the character models though, They are as stony-eyed as ever, encroaching on uncanny valley territory, and emotional moments are hampered a bit when characters go in for kiss, and their character models don't touch each other.

Book two has an excellent story, fantastic voice acting and music, a gorgeous art style in Stark, and fun engaging characters. It is only let down by the somewhat-repetitive art-style of Arcadia and the stiff character models and animation. However, any shortcomings are small in the grand scheme and don't hamper the overall enjoyment provided. Book two continues the threads created by book one, and strings them even deeper into an even more fantastic plot, leaving you wanting more.

Final verdict:
44½ out of 5

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