The Dreamer Unchained

For those of you who didn't know, the Dreamfall: Chapters kickstarter has entered the home stretch. So get your cards out, slackers!

With 44 hours to go as I'm writing this, there is really not very much time to be in the original Kickstarter campaign of Dreamfall: Chapters.

For the uninitiated, Dreamfall: Chapters is the sequel to Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, which was the second installment in the adventure gaming The Longest Journey saga. The series is notable for having a adult, yet gorgeously enthralling sci-fi / fantasy background, with such themes as sacrifice, discovery, challenging and changing ones beliefs and others, yet also having a great tongue-in-cheek humor and let's not forget the characters that stayed with many fans for the decade of the series.

Unfortunately, after the not-so-stellar Dreamfall (at least compared to the exemplar TLJ: it had some control problems, most notably the wonky at best combat) Funcom could not really start developing the thirds game.

That is, till Kickstarter came about.

As Double Fine have shown us, older gamers, there still is a great market for adventure games. Only the financing plans have changed: before, you had to grovel to investors and then listen to their whims, which I have to press, still is a blight on the gaming industry. Kickstarter turned this on its head: now the gamers pay in advance - in this case, almost two years in advance - and then the dev team can start coding away. Of course some teams have other sources, like government grants, very friendly individuals or the devs themselves, but the actual public support is what puts these projects into gear.

Over the year after the Double Fine Adventure kickstarter, many other adventure gaming legends turned up to reap their due from the oldschool gamers: Tex Murphy, Broken Sword,  and now, Dreamfall: Chapters. If all goes well, we should all get our games in a couple years time.

I myself have been a fan of this series since I first read a review / walkthrough of The Longest Journey, some twelve-thirteen years ago told as a tale right from Madame Arvale. I was captivated at once with the characters, the world, the game.. The Longest Journey was the first game I ordered outside of the country. (Which was quite an ordeal, as I got an Anarchy Online: Alien Invasion by mistake the first time around.) I could say I sort-of grew up, or more to the point, matured with it, re-reading the review or replaying the game at intervals. It was a wonderful tale of great atmosphere worth of passionate memory.

The second installment also captivated me, and although some cried out for certain parts, I recognized it as a diamond in the roughs. Yes, the fight system was atrocious, and that hiding-from-the-monster was also quite out-of-place, but the rest of the game more than compensated for those shortcomings. I still listen to the soundtrack, and can easily recall the beautiful, yet sorrowful main theme, not to mention Faith's haunting memory. I don't think there is quite another game - and I've played hundreds in the years - that wrenched my heart in such fashion.

While the acclaimed Total Biscuit warns agains preorders, a Kickstarter project is quite different: it is more akin to an investment. An investment in a video game developer company that should - at least in some form - listen to your ideas, wants, pleas. It is also something akin to voting with your money: if you think adventure gaming is not dead, and you want the genre back, you pay for that instead of the next Call of Duty variant (or pay for both, your choice).

Of course, backing a kickstarer project does not guarantee anything. You might get burned, it certainly wouldn't be the first case. That said, all the developers are ex-Funcom people, and if there is one thing that they didn't do all these years, it is hoodwinking their customers. I'd guess they won't start it now. I'm literally putting my money on it, and not a small amount either. I would ask you all to join me (us) in this endeavor.

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