Late to the party, I know. When Book Five came out I was in the middle of a particularly dense nugget of assessment, and to be honest, I was so preoccupied I hardly payed it any attention. Then even more busy has come my way and I've only managed to come back to DFC (after not playing it since Book Four came out) a few days ago.
I just finished the epilogue.
I'll start with this: this game actually grows with you. Not on you, with you - as if in you make different choices as you grow up. A lot happened for me between the two playthroughs and, well. Suffice it to say that when I've first played, I chose the bioneering route for Zoe when I was roleplaying. Now, I chose neural programming. Not because I wanted to see how the game plays out differently, but because this time around, it felt like the right choice. I think that alone says something about the potential DFC has to connect with the player, on a very personal level.
And that was just the start.
I actually have several PAGES of notes I've taken while playing, and I decided to just share them, since I don't feel quite up to sorting my thoughts and feelings right now - I'm way too emotionally exhausted. So, here goes. Minimal editing here and there.
PLAYING DFC AGAIN
+ New dream sequence! Better pacing, lost some of that old-school adventure game charm. Great atmosphere, though.
+ Shitbot is THE BEST. Seriously, Kidbot was fun, but I bet the story was written with Shitbot in mind.
+ Extended VOs feel weird. At times the VO goes on for much longer than the subtitles, especially with Zoe when she's going over the thoughts in her head while choosing a dialogue option. This creates an unpleasant disconnect between the VO and the written text.
+ Someone's definitely been fiddling with performance optimizing - some scenes play much more smoothly now, especially Dr Zelenka's office. Nice.
+ The game loses a lot on the second playthrough. A few sequences drag a bit when you know what's going on and you're not as invested in the story as the first time around.
+ [on the scene in which Reza returns to the Sonnenschein Plaza apartment and makes risotto] Did that scene change? Or did I change? (I played it differently on the second playthrough - though both times I made the choices I imagined I would have made as Zoe). Also, I've totally written down the "Don't just say you love me - show me" lyrics and I've been humming that for like an hour after that scene.
+ Some choices are still a bitch to make in an informed way.
With me so far? Good, because from now on, the notes become more of a collection of ingame quotes, with very 'squee' comments. Some of the latter, mind, are also ingame quotes.
+ "I'm doing this for April Ryan" - I'm man enough to admit I wept. Openly.
+ The recap/skip option in the first conversation Kian has with Shepherd really is an example of EXCELLENT writing. Flawless integration of game mechanics into dialogue.
+ "I am the Mole." Goosebumps.
+ "They cling to their slogans like drowning men cling to driftwood".
+ The camera is still annoying as hell. Had to keep zooming out with my mouse wheel to be able to see where I'm going.
+ "I laughed. On the inside". Love the deadpan delivery of that line.
+ That barge anchored near the entrance to The Hand - if that's not a visual reference to Little Venice, right outside Fringe Cafe, I don't know what is.
+ HOLY SHIT. This really is the game the original Dreamfall was meant to be.
+ THE MADARCHODS!
[Some quite private notes which I'll keep to myself, but which I totally made under the influence of the game. Well, that and alcohol. But they are beautiful - and very important to me.]
+ Christ our saviour on a bokking bicycle!
+ Let me tell you a story of how I once played DFC while drinking beer (in substantive quantities) and how I was going absolutely mental over how BEAUTIFUL the city of Marcuria looks. Ragnar Tornquist and RTG, you have truly touched another's soul. I mean it. This isn't a game. This is an experience.
+ Anna's lines were AMAZINGLY written. Were they written by the same person who wrote Shepherd? (and no, I don't remember which lines those were - but I'm sure they really were amazing)
+ The Mole. Jesus Christ, the writing. THE WRITING! I have LIVED, only for having listened to the Mole speak.
+ "I'm as hard as Nirgali steel." XDDD
+ That Bip convo about skin colour. This is EXACTLY what fantasy is about - taking a real life issue and looking at it in a mirror of alternate reality, to put it in a new perspective. Mastery.
+ OMG NELA KNEW
+ OMG OMG OMG (for some reason I didn't remember that bit)
+ "It's about all those little goods we do to each other." Enu <3
+ "You were a different person in between." Anna <3
+ Awesomebot <3
+ "Particularly on the account of the blindness." Blind Bob ^^ (all his lines are made of pure joy, and the fact that he's basically a full time shout out / tribute to Terry Pratchett and Discworld makes his character even better)
+ ENU <3 <3 <3 !!!
+ NO I DON'T TRUST WESTHOUSE ZOE WHY WON'T YOU JUST LEAVE
+ Elgwan riding noodle incident
+ Abnaxus final speech... I was literally laughing and crying at the same time
+ Some of the choice and consequence descriptions between books come off a bit patronizing.
and now... BOOK FIVE (not a whole lot of notes here, I was way into playing)
+ the wardrobe. nice touch.
+ Enu looks thoroughly unconcerned (her face didn't seem like it was animated properly in some scenes, and watching her stare blankly at the camera in the middle of what was supposed to be a dramatic moment was both hilarious and a bit jarring at the same time)
+ wow this looks a lot like Mass Effect 2
+ when we see the Prophet's face I was like... "wait. who's that supposed to be?" (I knew from context, but the problem with that scene is that this character just doesn't look like their usual self, so there's very little payoff. it's supposed to be this big moment, but instead there's confusion)
+ OMG THAT'S LIKE ALL THE WAY BACK FROM TLJ
+ The walkways ascent - at times it's not clear where you are supposed to go next. that's bad design, especially in a moment like the endgame where you don't want to be taken out of the story
+ Vamon HOLY SHIT
+ I AM CRYING
+ MANLY TEARS
+ 1vn DSAA03NR-FMCODAU982897$*^%^#)N_+K(MNB*&^N) )(}MU*(MNB &^
So, in summary...
I've been waiting for a conclusion to the story that started in Dreamfall ever since I finished that game back in 2006. And back then I was angry and disappointed over how that game ended. That was 10 years ago.
Today, I have witnessed that conclusion.
And it was everything I could have ever hoped it would be.
I mean, there was no disappointment. NONE. Quite the contrary - I laughed and I cried, I loved every second of it, and I am speechless. A piece of my childhood, a story which in the past I'd written off as one that would probably never be finished, has come back after a decade and hit me right in the feels - all the feels. I cannot find an adequate way to describe it other than that it was perfect - except it wasn't, because life never is, and this - among other things - is what DFC is about.
Thank you, RTG. There are no more words.