Saturday, September 17, 2011

Dream Chronicles

Ever played a game that was so beautiful that you wanted to move there? Where every scene took your breath away and could even make you gasp with the sheer loveliness of it all? Dream Chronicles is that game for me. The artwork is ‘break your heart’ beautiful. The architecture of the game has literally made me gasp out loud.  The first time I played it I was moved to tears because something so beautiful could only exist in a game.  Did it spoil it for me to discover it’s all based on real Art Nouveau architecture and furniture? Nope, it actually made it more awesome, that someone went beyond the usual plain grey concrete walls and floors.

Dream Chronicles is a puzzle style game loosely based on the Scottish legend of Tam Lin, which was based on the story of Thomas the Rhymer.  This game has a Spanish design team using Scottish legends and Belgian, French and Spanish Art Nouveau art and architecture. Welcome to the amazing new world of gaming.

You play the game as Faye who wakes up to discover that her husband is missing and her daughter is under a sleeping spell. You have to figure out how to get out of your amazing beautiful house and search for your husband, Fidget.  Like Tam Lin of the Scottish story, Fidget gets kidnapped by the Queen of the Fairies and is held, maybe, against his will. You can talk to him long distance thoughtout the game so he’s not in prison and in a later game the Queen turns out to be pregnant.  Hmmm…

Speaking of the later Dream Chronicles games, don’t bother. The story in the original has a few plot holes, but the story in later games in the series suffered greatly, maybe from the speed of launch, maybe from their own success, it’s hard to tell. Many times I have found that after a great game comes out, its sequel strips out everything that made the first game so awesome. Kind of like Iron Man 2. Like a lot of fans, I pretend they never made a sequel and just enjoy the original. It’s not just that Robert Downey Jr. is beautiful and fascinating to watch, the character of Tony Stark illustrates one of my favorite examples of dealing with failure. While Tony is in his lab, trying to design a better suit, he fails constantly. He learns from it and keeps trying. The first time I tried to install a towel bar I kept replaying that scene over and over in my head. Don’t quit, learn from your mistakes, move on. It’s an awesome towel bar, btw. Maybe the best in the house. Plus, an afternoon spent thinking about Robert Downey Jr.? Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Yum!

Something I like about most puzzle games, when you fail, you get the chance to figure out what you did wrong and try something different the next time. I learned in Dream Chronicles to take detailed notes during the musical puzzles, it is very hard for me to tell the difference between tones but I can see the order of the keys on a keyboard. I also find the ‘Simon Says light pattern’ puzzles almost as hard as the musical one. Lots and lots of detailed notes. Scientists call it ‘hard play’, work that we choose for ourselves and get no reward for other than satisfaction. And I really enjoy it. Challenge me, help me when I ask for it and otherwise, let me play. Too bad more of real life is not like games; it could be both beautiful and fulfilling. But maybe I could get my daughters to help me on the musical part!

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