Posting from Tintagel

The Longest Journey into the Dreamfall

February 21, 2018 | 6 Minute Read


“Where have you gone to, Dreamer. Whose dreams are you dreaming?”[1]

Sharing my first impressions right after playing through Life Is Strange I footnoted about it being seemingly a bit influenced by a certain unforgettable adventure game which primarily came to my mind - ipso facto, the first adventure game of my life.
The Longest Journey invaded my lifetime shortly before the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini, creating expanded worlds full of solidly backgrounded characters and their own specific languages (same as in the mentioned book fantasy saga). April Ryan, a promising artist (in Stark) led by Crow (in Arcadia), turned into an adventurer (playable) travelling and interacting with fifty other (non-playable) residents of multiple lands.
Technically, The Longest Journey is a typical PC point-and-click game released at the brink of the 90’s and the millennium (official release date 1999; 2000 in my country) by Norwegian studio Funcom (mostly MMORPG specialized). Its leader (and TLJ author as well) is Ragnar Tørnquist - former philosophy student and modern adventure[2] term popularizer, currently the Red Thread Games founder - an independent video game developer (also from Norway). Red Thread Games is directly related to Dreamfall: The Longest Journey (relased in 2006) and the newest Dreamfall: Chapters (PC released episodically in 2014-2017; PS4 complete release 2017) with its plot determined by user choices - a game which impacted me a couple of days ago the same way as The Longest Journey back in the past.
the twin worlds
Stark is a futuristic, dystopian civilization driven by advanced technology with a strong leader’s authority tendencies and uniform culture formed by its citizen-nation. Everything in Stark is the fruit of science and logic, controlled by a strict system. Arcadia is the land of four fantasy continents separated from one another by the ocean, where the magic and its ancient mysteries are the reality united by diverse countries with their independent cultures. Besides native languages used locally, a common dialect came into existence in Arcadia - Na’ven, ‘Alltongue’, possible to learn for anyone by listening to someone speaking. Ton, ken e sank. - Listen and be quiet. Every level of magic itself is shaped by its user - alchemist (creating items or potions), magician (using magic by incantations), artist (moulding other magic into new art/magic), artisan (shaping/using magic by force of will). An arrangement between both halves of the Balance concerns, in general, the dreams/visions of a fantastical world (more pronounced when the Balance is unstable).
a gap between the mirror and its reflection
The Balance creates the equilibrium in the universe between logic and Chaos (as the principle opposed to order, the extreme of magic opposed to the extreme of science). It is essential because people’s desire of them both makes their mutual existence impossible. According to fundamental principles, the Balance is regulated by the Guardian from a realm, placed in the Tower channelling the energy which creates the Divide. The Guardian’s soul was removed so that process can be run dispassionately.
dreaming a dream
The Divide, the ‘Rift’, is supposed to be a dream world separating opposite dimensions - magic (Arcadia) and science (Stark) - from each other. Anyway, Stark has been the birthplace of Shifters. It’s also a place where a Dreamer was revealed.
Shifter can literally pass through the Divide from one world to the reflected, starting by using those powers while dreaming. What’s important, it seems that reality around is wrapped with every - especially too long - journey and the Divine constantly fails separating worlds. A Dreamer still remains a riddle, being able‘to dream things true’[3].
‘Dreamfall’ reaches for its fundamental canon proclaing its basic rules but is a rather different storyline than a TLJ sequel, even if its plot-line takes place after The Longest Journey finale - the reason of chaos left over the temporary reality distortion, urged to be restrictly organized again (in Stark) and the opportunity for one independent region to suddenly attack or insidiously occupy another, soon urged to be helped with its more and more dangerous situation (in Arcadia). The gameplay is different - player is not only exploring the three dimensions but also automatically switched between three playable characters.
In Dreamfall: The Longest Journey (playable) April Ryan is met again, no longer a Shifter, just a lost one trapped not in her native reality. Besides her, two new protagonists surface - a bioneering[4] student in Stark where Dreamnet has just started to distribute lucid dreams into people’s minds; and the Azadi apostle, assasin in Arcadia where his natives has just started to occupy a distant country after helping their locals with a neighbour enemy attack. The third dimesion means the house where a girl named Faith resides.
Finally, Dreamfall: Chapters invites the player into cyberpunk Stark, steam-fantasy Arcadia and other deeply mysterious dimensions like enigmatic Storytime (undefined in time where the Vagabond is waiting for a someone Dreamer) or House of All Worlds (no one knows where, although there Saga exist - the third, completely new (playable) character)[5]. In Stark, more and more people become addicted to dreaming thanks to inserting/implanting wished thoughts into their minds (effectively brainwashing them). In Arcadia, a rebellion is near, military steam technology is being installed and the new Tower is being built by fanatically religious empresses on the Temple of the Balance ruins.
Right after my first playthrough, listening to “Dreamfall: Chapters” dedicated soundtrack[6], I’d like to add my personal suggestion - it’s not possible to entirely enjoy the Dreamfall without the experience of The Longest Journey.

“Because you are a Dreamer.”[7]


[1] Dreamfall: The Longest Journey quote
[2] modern adventure defines a genre describing a game design initially began with games such as Broken Sword, Syberia and The Longest Journey itself.
[3] paraphrasing Faith (Dreamfall: The Longest Journey)
[4] bioneering understood as the science of constructing or manipulating biological organisms, such as the creation of organic computers.
[5] [direct spoiler] Saga’s birth seems to be associated with April’s funeral. When Saga is born, a portal opens in the house.
[6] OST was composed by Simon Poole - Norwegian sound designer, artistic vision and technical realization expert.
[7] Dreamfall: Chapters quote