More pointing-and-clicking wanted

When Jonez from NekoJonez’s Gaming Blog nominated Later Levels for a Real Neat Blog Award, he asked bloggers to share which video game series they’d choose to revive. My pick: give the rights to Monkey Island back to Ron Gilbert so it can be restored to its former glory.

There’s always a high risk that a revived franchise will never live up to expectations, but this doesn’t stop me from wanting to see Guybrush Threepwood star in another point-and-click. Sure, it could be terrible and leave players disappointed – or it could be the best instalment in the series yet, and we’ll never know unless it’s made. Giving the intellectual property (IP) back to the original creators would mean that it could be developed by people who adore it as much as the fans do and who know what makes it so special.

Today’s post is a follow-on from that article back in January and is once again dedicated to Jonez as a thank you for another Real Neat Blog Award nomination last month. Let’s forget about Monkey Island for a moment (although that’s pretty difficult for me to do): which other games and series would I like to see brought back to life? I’ve concentrated on the adventure genre below to make answering the question slightly easier, plus there’s a bonus answer from my other-half which might surprise anybody who’s joined us for a Twitch stream.

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller

Cognition, An Erica Reed Thriller, Erica Reed, FBI, face, gunI love Cognition for two main reasons. First, it’s far gritter and has a darker storyline than what you’d usually expect from most point-and-clicks; and second, FBI Agent Erica Reed is one of my favourite female characters. There’s so much potential here for a sequel and it would be great to see where her potent powers take her next. Sadly though, Phoenix Online Studios haven’t released a title since 2014 and seem more interested in the publishing side of the business nowadays. Turning Cognition into a series therefore seems unlikely but a girl can dream.

Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Comes Today

Dead Synchronicity, Tomorrow Comes Today, video game, wasteland, man, boys, watch tower, apocalypseI backed Fictiorama Studios’ crowdfunding campaign for Dead Synchronicity in March 2014 and really enjoyed the title when it was released in April the following year. If you enjoy stories about dystopian futures and weird illnesses (ahem) then I’d recommend checking this one out – but prepare yourself for an ending where a sequel is teased but not delivered. Although the next instalment was announced in December 2016, reports of financial problems for publisher Daedalic Entertainment could mean we’ll be waiting a while for a follow-up.

The Gabriel Knight series

Gabriel Knights, Sins of the Fathers, 20th Anniversary Edition, video gamesGabriel Knight is one of the most sardonic, selfish and sexist protagonists within a point-and-click but for all his faults, it’s impossible not to be fond of him – particularly when he’s voiced by Tim Curry. The fact that the character is played by another voice-actor in Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition was the main reason I didn’t on with the 2014 remake. Jane Jensen has voiced hopes of reviving the series with her company Pinkerton Road Studio over the years, but the website doesn’t seem to exist any longer and she’s more focused on writing fiction nowadays.

Kathy Rain

Kathy Rain, video game, female, girl, Kathy, cemeteryKathy Rain is a must-play for any adventure fans who enjoy atmospheric detective stories with a Twin Peaks vibe. Prepare yourself for a lot of questions though, because things take a turn for the weird towards the end and the hinted-at follow-up hasn’t arrived yet to give us the answers. Clifftop Games confirmed on Steam in January 2017 that it was likely they’d start working on a sequel following on from Whispers of a Machine (another point-and-click I’d recommend) but things have been quiet since it was released in April last year.

Moebius: Empire Rising

Every now and again, a title comes along that’s so bad you end up quite enjoying it. That’s how I felt about Moebius and I kind of want to see protagonist Malachi Rector return for another instalment just to see how annoying he can get. How many eyebrow-raises and sarcastic comments could we expect from him in a sequel? However, if Jane Jensen and Phoenix Online Studios do decide to get together for another project in the future: bump this guy into second place and concentrate on Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller first please!

Paradigm

Paradigm, video game, caravan, shop, computers for sale, dogReluctant heroes tend to be thoroughly irritating (I’m looking at you, Sadwick) but Paradigm is one character who’s far from that. He has a positive outlook despite his situation and a self-deprecating sense of humour, and I want to see him come back for another game along with Doug the beatboxing eggplant so I can laugh at their antics all over again. Unfortunately developer Jacob Janerka has said it will probably never happen though, although there’s the possibility of an animated series to look forward to. Aww yiss!

The Longest Journey series

Dreamfall, The Longest Journey, April Ryan, face, womanWe all have that one series we love but just can’t finish and for me it’s The Longest Journey by Red Thread Games. I might not have been able to complete Dreamfall Chapters yet because I don’t want the story to end, but that doesn’t stop me from wishing for another title. With the Kickstarter campaign for the game failing to reach a stretch goal and Ragnar Tørnquist saying ‘The Longest Journey Home will probably never happen’, it seems unlikely; but I’d love to find out what happened to April Ryan in the years between the first and second releases.

Pete’s choice: Maize

Maize, video game, bear, Vladdy, robot, animatronicAnyone who’s ever joined us for a stream will know how much my other-half enjoys anything involving plenty of ‘pew-pew’, but he’s hiding a dark secret: he also likes an adventure occasionally (gasp!). Maize was one such release and he chose it when I asked him which title he’d like to see a follow-up to. If you’re in the mood for a bit of silliness – along with a brilliant track about top-secret experiments – I’d highly recommend giving Finish Line Games’ project a go. I’m not sure how a sequel would work based on the ending, but I wouldn’t say no.

Bonus: Beneath a Steel Sky

Always wanted a sequel to Beneath a Steel Sky? Well you won’t have to wait too much longer, because Revolution Games are due to release their new title this year. I had the opportunity to play a demo of Beyond a Steel Sky at EGX in October (back when we could attend expos in person) and it was great. The puzzles were logical yet enjoyable, the environments looked lovely, and the voice-acting and music suited them perfectly. We’ve had to wait a very long time for a follow-up but it seems as though we’re finally going to get a worthy successor.

Thank you once again to Jonez for a very kind Real Neat Blog Award, and for giving me the chance to talk about all the adventures I’d love to see make a comeback. Now over to you: which sequels do you keep hoping for?

Wonderful women in video games

Female characters in video games have come a long way over the past few years. When I was a kid, all we had to look up to was Chun-Li from Street Fighter and pointy-boobed Lara Croft from Tomb Raider. The industry may still have some way to go when it comes to representation but there are far more protagonists nowadays who are worthy of our admiration.

A big thank you to LightningEllen from Livid Lightning for including Later Levels in her Underrated Ladies! tag and giving me the opportunity to write about the following fabulous females. She’s pretty awesome herself so if you’re not already following this lady, do yourself a favour and make sure you check out her blog today. In honour of all the amazing women in video games and the blogging community, let’s take a look at some of the best female protagonists.

A heroine who is always overshadowed by the male characters in the story

Mass Effect, video game, female, FemShep, Commander Shepard, faceAlthough FemShep has a huge following, she’s always overshadowed by male Commander Shepard. He’s the one pictured in screenshots used in articles devoted to Mass Effect; and she was a half-hearted addition to the first game in the series after BioWare only bothered to record a couple of romance scenes, change the pronouns used in conversations and tweak the armour designs. But somehow she works and she kicks butt. In not particularly trying to create a great female character, the developer lucked out and made one of the best.

A heroine who is always overshadowed by the other female characters in the story

Night in the Woods, video game, kitchen, cats, conversation, Kandy, Mom, MaeMy favourite character from Night in the Woods was Candy Borowski. I love the way the story hints at her being more than just a mum: she’s had a history (one I like to think was pretty wild) and she’s dealing with issues she’s trying to keep her daughter shielded from. Although female protagonists Mae and Bea Santello take up most of the screen-time and are the focus of the story, it’s Candy who brings both a sense of humour and the warmth of compassion to the title with her comments about eels and town gossip.

A character who had potential but was greatly underutilised in her story

The Secret of Monkey Island, Elaine Marley, woman, pirate, face, Guybrush ThreepwoodAlthough The Secret of Monkey Island will always be one of my favourite games, I wouldn’t necessarily say Guybrush Threepwood was one of my favourite characters. He becomes more and more sarcastic and idiotic as the series progresses – and it’s poor Elaine Marley who has to put up with that crap. It was she who saved the day in the original title before Guybrush mucked it up and managed to defeat LeChuck through sheer luck – and I think that makes of worthy of being a playable protagonist in her own game.

A character who you want more backstory on

Dreamfall, The Longest Journey, April Ryan, face, womanThe first game in The Longest Journey series featured April Ryan as the primary character; then the next, Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, jumped forward ten-years in time to Zoë Castillo. April still made an appearance but she’d changed, the hesitant young girl replaced by a cynical woman hardened by the things she’d been through. Although Ragnar Tørnquist has said it’s very unlikely we’ll ever see a direct sequel to the first instalment, I’d love to find out more about what exactly happened to April in that missing decade.

A character with traits that are sadly overlooked by everyone

The Legend of Zelda, Ocarina of Time, Navi, fairy, LinkEveryone who’s ever played The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time really dislikes Navi. I’ll admit she annoys me too with her constant ‘Hey, listen!’ but she has a lot of good traits that are continually overlooked. She’s loyal, staying by Link’s side throughout his quest to save Hyrule; she’s patient, teaching him the controls and providing clues to solve puzzles; and she has his back during battles, becoming his focusing target. So many great and caring aspects to her personality yet all we do is yell at the fairy to shut-up.

A morally-grey character

Fable II, video game, Theresa, babyIt’s difficult to share much about Theresa here as her Fable backstory is so detailed. But the most intriguing thing is the fact you’re never quite sure whether she’s on the side of good or evil: is she telling you all she knows, or has she seen the future and is now trying to guide you down a certain path? Zoë Wanamaker does such a great job at portraying the Seeress, with a perfect balance of mysticism and threat in her voice. Now whenever I see a television advert voiced by her I feel as if Theresa is trying to sell me something.

A character who should be more famous

Cognition, An Erica Reed Thriller, Erica Reed, FBI, face, gunShe may be a kickass FBI Agent who’s searching for the evil Cain Killer, her brother’s murderer, and her ‘psion’ powers might give her an advantage by enabling her to see into the past. But Cognition’s Erica is by no means a superhero and her weaknesses are exactly the reason why I love her. Raleigh Holmes does an amazing job of portraying her as a real person who’s struggling with a stressful job, tragic past and powerful secret. It’s her wonderful voice-acting and some great writing which bring Agent Reed to life.

Thanks so much once again to LightningEllen for the tag and giving me the chance to talk about these wonderful ladies! I didn’t respond to all of the prompts as there were a couple I couldn’t quite decide on answers for, so head over to her post to see the whole set. Hopefully I’ve done enough today though to celebrate wonderful women in video games and she’ll approve!

On the second day of Blogmas

Our choir of gaming Christmas carollers is back again for the second day of Blogmas, where creative conductor Athena from AmbiGaming is leading us in a rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas – but with a video game twist. Check out her blog to see what she’s written for her second answer, and keep your eyes peeled for all of the other bloggers out there taking part.

Yesterday we looked at 12 gaming memories that keep each of us feeling warm and fuzzy throughout the year. With the choir clearing their throats and warming up in the background, let’s see what the subject of today’s verse is:

On the second day of Blogmas, the gamers said to me:
What are your 12 favourite gaming memories?
Tell us 11 games you love!

1990: The Secret of Monkey Island

I’m sure many readers were expecting this one to appear on a list of games I love. It’s the title that started my fondness for the adventure genre as a child, after realising that worlds I thought only existed in books could be brought to life through pixels on a screen. It’s also the series that’s home to one of my favourite characters: Murray the skull is simply awesome because he doesn’t let anything hold him back. Sometimes all you need is an evil mental attitude.

1993: Myst

Myst makes my list because it features what I think is one of the best beginnings in gaming. I love that feeling you get when you start a new game and have no idea where this curious journey is going to take you, what obstacles you’re going to encounter and who you’re going to meet along the way. Despite being incredibly simple, the opening cutscene effectively inspires a wonderful sense of confusion in the player which perfectly mimics the character’s emotional state.

1999: The Longest Journey

I adore the story told by the Dreamfall series – so much so that I haven’t been able to finish the final instalment – and no other title has captured my imagination in the same way as The Longest Journey. Rather than share an individual story in each episode, everything is connected in ways which aren’t at first obvious: separate elements that appear unconnected are eventually weaved together in a way where it slowly dawns on you how significant they actually were.

2008: Fable II

So the Fable series may have taken a downhill turn when sequelitus hit the third instalment, but the second game is one of my absolute favourites. It was the title that got me back into gaming regularly as I was hooked after the first half-hour; I spent the rest of the week ploughing through it trying to find every side-quest, figuring out how to get past the demon doors and meeting as many residents of Albion as possible. This is the reason I’d love to meet Peter Molyneux.

2011: To The Moon

One of the first indie titles I ever played after being introduced to this side of gaming was To The Moon. It broke my heart and I was genuinely in tears by the credits; and it taught me that video games are much more than entertainment and pixels. Here’s a storyline that shows the player that life is too short to have regrets so if there’s something you want to do, get out there and do it. Chris from OverThinker Y and I both played the follow up, Finding Paradise, earlier this year.

2012: Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller

Here’s a grown-up murder-mystery and not a game for children, and it’s one of those titles which is so deserving of a sequel. Protagonist Erica is an FBI Agent with ‘psion’ powers that enable her to see the past. With potent abilities like this it would have been all too easy for the developer to resort to them to push the plot along but instead, her powers aren’t the solution for every problem. It’s due to some great voice-acting and wonderful writing that she’s one of my favourite characters.

2013: Gone Home

Gone Home won’t be everybody’s cup of tea but it’s hard to deny that the writing and voice-acting are top-notch – full marks to Sarah Grayson for her portrayal of Sam Greenbriar. This was the first ‘walking simulator’ title I’d played and I was totally blown away. The teenager comes across as smart and snarky yet insecure and relatable; and both she and her story will have left a lasting mark on you by the time you’ve spent the three hours needed to complete the title.

2014: The Elder Scrolls Online

I’ve had an on-off addition to The Elder Scrolls Online since its release and I always seem to return to it during the winter months. I love the way it’s just so easy to go back to: you can fit in a quest or two during a spare hour after work and then put down the controller. With the purchase of a second PlayStation this year, the other-half and I are planning to set up another television in our living room over Christmas so we can go adventuring though the land of Auridon together.

2015: The Last Guardian

Yes, it can be extremely annoying when you need Trico’s help to reach a ledge and all he wants to do is clean his feathers or play with a nearby chain. But at the same time, The Last Guardian manages to create one of the most believable bonds between a human and an animal within a video game. Trico hardly ever does exactly what he’s told but if the player was able to order the creature around like a tool, the game wouldn’t be nearly as effective or pack such an emotional punch.

2017: Stories Untold

When I played text adventures as a kid, I always had this feeling I’d start to see elements of the title in the real world if I looked up from the screen; and it’s this atmosphere that Stories Untold manages to recreate so well. It’s extremely hard to resist the urge to look over your shoulder as you play through The House Abandon episode or not to expect your phone to ring when the handset does in-game. I’m really looking forward to the developer’s next interesting project, Observation.

2018: The Red Strings Club

The Red Strings Club is one of the best titles I’ve had the pleasure of playing this year and I can’t recommend it highly enough, although this ‘narrative experience’ is highly likely not to be to everybody’s taste. It asks the player to think about how far they’d be willing to go to suppress the worst aspect of our personalities for the good of the population, and whether it’s worth sacrificing emotions such as sadness and anger. This is one game which stayed in my mind long after I completed it.

It’s time for the choir to take a short break so we’ll be back for the third day of Blogmas tomorrow, with reasons why we’d play a video game. In the meantime, why not tell us about your favourite titles below?

UK Blog Awards, UKBA19, logo, voteHello there! If you like what you see in this post, why not take a moment to vote for Later Levels in the UK Blog Awards 2019?
Doing so will bring you great loot, increase your XP by +100 and make you immune to fire.*
(*Not guaranteed.)


The Ultimate Video Game (a QotM answer)

September’s Question of the Month is brought to you by Ian from Adventure Rules: Nintendo fan, Blogger Blitz host and an awesome writer who brings the community together. To find out more about him and his site, as well as how you can get involved, take a look at this post.

As mentioned by Annie in her own QotM response over on Guardian Acorn last week, the elements for an awesome video game are purely subjective and dependent on a players’ personal preferences. But what if The Ultimate Video Game was being made just for you: what ingredients would a developer need to throw into the mix to make a release tailored to your tastes, and one which would forever cement its place on your favourites list?

*queue wavy dream sequence*

•••

The Ultimate Video Game launches 17 September 2018


London, UK – 12 September 2018 – the alternative-reality adventure by independent studio Dream Development Team, The Ultimate Video Game, will receive its official launch on 17 September 2018.

This long-awaited title has been in development for the past decade and will feature over 50 hours of content, as players explore a world where nothing is as it first seems. Travel through more than 70 unique locations, populated by 250 key characters with 200,000 lines of dialogue, and discover which of 12 different endings you’ll arrive at based on your choices throughout the game.

Following a successful closed beta over the summer which helped inform final tweaks and improvements, Dream Development Team is now ready to reveal its project. And what’s more, the title will be released fully-tested and in its entirety so players can forget about bugs, lengthy updates and DLC and simply enjoy themselves.

About The Ultimate Video Game:

This science-fiction adventure takes place in the not too distant future, in a universe not entirely dissimilar from our own. Players are transported from the comfort of their own home as they embark on a mysterious voyage of discovery to set the future back on the correct course; can they save humanity before time runs out?

Develop your character on an epic journey through beautiful and strangely-familiar worlds, with a deep story to embrace, unique history to uncover and cerebral challenges to solve. It’s up to you to use your wits to expose exactly what went on here and determine just what happens next.

  • Choices matter – Influenced by narrative classics such as the The Longest Journey series, your choices have consequences and will affect the characters around you, for better or for worse. Individual story elements are joined in ways which may not be obvious at first and weaved together to create a sense of dawning realisation, resulting in an alternate-reality world which feels connected.
  • Thoughtful and challenging gameplay – in a move away from combat and pixel-hunting, logical visual and audio puzzles combine to create an experience similar to more thoughtful titles like Myst. Enter the right combination or figure out a use for that strange contraption, because solving a challenge in one area may just open a door in another and allow you to progress.
  • A detailed, living world – Using the same form of hyper-realism and procedural generation as Horizon Zero Dawn, gorgeously-designed environments bring the world to life and give players something new to take in at every location visited. An added photo-mode allows for capturing sun-filled dawns and sparkling twilights in the perfect screenshot.
  • Atmospheric sound and powerful voice-acting – Inspired by Gone Home, superb voice-acting draws the player into characters’ emotions to enable them to see the world from their point of view. Expert sound design builds upon the distinct atmosphere of each location visited, from the neon lights and noise of the metropolis to the silence and shadows of abandoned castle ruins.

  • About Dream Development Team:

    Dream Development Team is an independent studio full of likeminded individuals from across the globe, united by the idea of making amazing video games with enjoyable mechanics and well thought-out worlds. They share ideas, learn from each other and overcome obstacles, moving ever-closer to their goal together.

    Media contact:

    Kim
    Blogger, Later Levels

    Classic adventures (which aren’t Monkey Island)

    Ever since playing The Secret of Monkey Island and realising that stories can come alive through pixels, I’ve loved adventure games. There’s nothing like having a lazy afternoon with nothing else to do except put on a video game, get lost in a narrative and overcome a few challenging puzzles. Throw in a couple of bars of chocolate for good measure and I’m a very happy gamer.

    I’d therefore like to thank the awesome TriformTrinity for nominating Later Levels for the Sunshine Blogger award last month and giving me the opportunity to talk about some of my favourite adventures. His question ‘being in the mood for good old classic games, what would you recommend me?’ has given me the chance to reminiscence about the following classic titles, and hopefully they’ll inspire you to get your point-and-click on.

    1993: Simon the Sorcerer

    Although Guybrush Threepwood will always be my first true love, Simon the Sorcerer was the next adventure-game-hero to really capture my heart after I’d started on the Monkey Island titles. Our parents used to take my younger brother and I to a local market on the weekends so we could spend our pocket-money at the video game stall; and it was here that I first same across the boy-wonder in the purple robe.

    The thing I liked most about the protagonist was his dry sense of humour and sarcasm: he’d say things to grown-ups and enemies alike that I’d never dream of saying, and get away with it too. I think one day I’ll have to introduce my stepson Ethan to the series and play through the games with him. I can already see his eyes opening wide at some of the Simon’s comments, before hiding a cheeky laugh behind his hand.

    1993: Myst

    Myst, video game, box, CD case, physical copy

    Back in the early 90s, a school-friend asked if I’d mind going over to his house to help him out with a video game. He was having trouble finding the solution to a puzzle and thought a fresh pair of eyes might point him in the right direction. That game turned out to be Myst – one of the best-selling PC releases of all time – and I loved it so much that I promptly purchased it for myself so I could play it in its entirety.

    It was my love for the title which inspired me to back Cyan’s Obduction campaign in 2013 and, while it was pretty good, it just couldn’t live up to the original. The current Kickstarter project has therefore got me excited: the 25th Anniversary Collection gives backers the opportunity to get their hands on an ‘exclusively packaged collection on all the Myst games’. That’s seven titles complete with a linking book – and we’ve only got to wait until November.

    1994: Beneath a Steel Sky

    If you’re as old as I am, you’ll likely recall those days when you could pop to the local newsagent and pick up a few magazines about video games. A floppy disk was usually attached to the front cover (which was always a pain to remove) and contained several demos of the latest releases. I remember my dad bringing one of these home for me one evening and after dinner, firing up my Amiga to try out Beneath a Steel Sky.

    I never got around to playing the full game back then, but I didn’t forget about the dystopian-future setting which went on to inspire a fondness for such premises as I grew older. Years later it was a pleasant surprise to receive the title for free as part of signing up to the GOG platform; and an even bigger surprise discovering the adult humour with plenty of the double entendres and one-liners. Pussies on Parade, anyone?

    1995: Full Throttle

    One of the first things I did after getting a home computer hooked up to the internet (and listening to the modem sound as though it was strangling itself) was to head to a CompuServe chat room. This was where I met Paul from Scotland: we started chatting about video games after school a few times a week, before becoming penpals and then friends in real-life. Things were so much more innocent back then.

    When we were teenagers, we’d exchange physical games via snail-mail and Full Throttle was one of those he sent to me. Despite feeling as though the experience was over too quickly, Ben and Maureen were down-to-earth characters who captured my imagination with their minefield-bunny antics. I think Paul got the raw end of the deal: in return I’d loaned him Shivers, a horror-adventure which looks lame now but totally scared me back then.

    1999: The Longest Journey

    Rezzed, expo, event, video games, Martin Bruusgaard, Kim, Ragnar Tornquist

    It’s rare now that I go into a GAME store and even rarer that I come out of one having made a purchase; but back in the 90s, it was a fairly regular occurrence. It was on a shopping trip with friends that I discovered The Longest Journey there and it went on to become one of my favourite video games. It’s hard for me to explain just how good the story, characters and setting are – just make sure you play it for yourself if you haven’t already.

    I must confess that I’ve been a little bit in love with the lovely Red Thread Games guys since and have had the pleasure of meeting them several times over the years. I became a Kickstarter backer for the Dreamfall Chapters campaign in 2013 and recently revealed my problem with the title: I haven’t been able to bring myself to finish it so far because I simply don’t want the story to end. Hopefully I’ll be able to get over this fear at some point…

    There are so many other great classic adventures I could mention in this post and the list would go on and on if I didn’t restrain myself. You may also have noticed that I haven’t included The Secret of Monkey Island above; it would be an extremely obvious choice for me so I’ve tried to provide some alternative options! I hope I’ve given you some inspiration here to go old-school and consider a point-and-click for your next play.

    The classic adventures have been the subject of this post and it’s got me all nostalgic. But there are some great modern titles too, so who knows: maybe there’ll be a bonus post featuring newer games very soon…

    The series I love, but can’t finish

    In an article for CNN in August 2011, development consultant Keith Fuller said: “What I’ve been told as a blanket expectation is that 90% of players who start your game will never see the end of it unless they watch a clip on YouTube.”

    This was backed up by Raptr’s Vice President of Marketing John Lee: “Just ten years ago, I recall some standard that only 20% of gamers ever finish a game.”

    In his post, author Blake Snow cites several reasons for these statistics. The average age of the most frequent game buyer is 41 – a person who is usually in the middle of raising kids and a career – so they have limited available time to play. They want stop-and-go-titles in bite-size titles rather than lengthy RPGs which take longer to start and resume, and are therefore turning to multiplayers over single-player games.

    Although I don’t entirely agree with Snow on that last point, I can see where he’s coming from: the older we get, the more responsibilities we have and the harder it is to find a spare hour or two to play. But there are other, less direct reasons for not completing a video game; and there’s one series that I myself just can’t bring myself to finish despite several attempts over the years.

    Rezzed, expo, event, video games, Martin Bruusgaard, Kim, Ragnar Tornquist

    It’s here that I have must thank Colin from Puggy Gaming for being the inspiration for this post. After a kind nomination for a Unique Blogger Award last month, he asked his nominees: have you ever had your photograph taken with anyone famous? Well opposite you can see mine. This was snapped after I had the pleasure of chatting to Ragnar Tørnquist and Martin Bruusgaard from Red Thread Games at Rezzed in June 2013.

    They were there to present a developer session on the progress of Dreamfall Chapters. I’d loved The Longest Journey since playing it in 2006 shortly after the release of follow-up Dreamfall: The Longest Journey; and while I disliked the control scheme and ‘forced’ action scenes added to the sequel, their story had sealed their place in my heart. As soon as the Kickstarter campaign for the third instalment was launched, I headed straight over to become a backer.

    It may have been The Secret of Monkey Island that started my love-affair with video games as a nine-year old but it was The Longest Journey series that showed me what games could really achieve. It told the epic tale of restoring the Balance between parallel universes of magical Arcadia and industrial Stark, through characters who were inspiring and fought for what they believed in.

    To this day, no other series has captured my imagination in the same way and I feel the releases are some of the finest examples of storytelling in video games. Rather than share an individual story in each episode, everything is connected in ways which aren’t at first obvious: separate elements that appear unconnected are eventually weaved together in a way where it slowly dawns on you how significant they actually were.

    Zoë Castillo was different from a lot of the other female characters around at the time and provided a protagonist to look up to. She didn’t just accept what was happening or wait for a hero to come to the rescue – she became the hero by questioning the unbelievable events going on around her and then realising it was only right to do something about them. (Plus she had really cool hair.)

    But I can’t tell you how Zoë’s story ends. I don’t know if she’s still alive and happy, and if she managed to achieve all she set out to do. I’m unsure of what happened to shifter April Ryan, assassin Kian Alvane and sidekick Crow. And I can’t say if they managed to restore the Balance between the two worlds and what the fate of Arcadia and Stark ultimately was.

    Dreamfall Chapters, The Longest Journey, video game, Zoe, lights, mountains, Dreamtime, horizon

    You see, I just couldn’t bring myself to finish Dreamfall Chapters. My Steam profile shows I’ve played over 23 hours but still haven’t completed it. It’s nothing to do with any of Snow’s reasons such as not having enough time to do so or being more interested in multiplayer titles; the explanation sounds almost silly now that I’m putting it into words. It’s because once I complete the final instalment of the series, it will all be over.

    That will be the end of The Longest Journey story. This feeling is something Ian from Adventure Rules picked up on in a post in January: “There’s a want perhaps to move on to a new game. Maybe there’s even a specific title you’re looking forward to. But until that next game comes along, you’re too attached to the previous and have a hard time moving on. Every game you try to revisit before the next new thing comes out feels hollow…”

    Red Thread Games had planned to make a direct sequel to The Longest Journey if their Kickstarter campaign hit $2 million, sharing what happened to April during the 10-year gap unaccounted for in Dreamfall. Sadly this stretch goal wasn’t reached and the future of The Longest Journey Home is uncertain, with Tørnquist writing in a forum post in June 2016: “It’s satisfying but heartbreaking, and part of me would love to jump right into [the game] to tell a personal and soulful story about a character I care deeply about… but for many, many reasons I don’t think it will happen.”

    I know it’s weird. But the longer it takes me to complete Dreamfall Chapters, the longer the series will last and the nearer we could possibly be to a new title. Perhaps one day I’ll accept that it’s over and finally sit down to finish the game… but until then, I’ll cling on to the hope that the story will always go on.