Dream Chronicles: The Chosen Child
Publisher: Play First
Release Date: 04/25/2009
Imagine waking up from a dream, not quite understanding where you are, with a vague nagging sense that something horrible may or may not have happened to you. What you thought of as a quiet, idyllic life might have been ripped away from you in the night. This is the setting of Dream Chronicles: The Chosen Child. In classic adventure game format, you will embark on a quest to solve the mystery, and maybe find your family. So is this worth getting out of bed for? Let’s see.
In Dream Chronicles: The Chosen Child, you wake from a disturbing dream and begin to piece together the puzzle of a strange dream involving a witch, a man, and a child. You find yourself in a beautiful treehouse – literally, a house built in a tree – and go from there. The game play is pure, classic adventure game. You click the mouse on what you wish to interact with, and the either pick up the object or read a brief description if you can’t interact with it yet. Along the bottom of the screen is your inventory, and to the left and right are a dream journal and a crystal ball. The journal will help you keep track of puzzles and clues, and the crystal ball will help you communicate and get hints when they are needed.
The game features beautiful graphics and a low-key, haunting soundtrack. You can see from the screens that everything is wonderfully rendered. The graphics, and especially the art design, are major high points. There are rooms that look straight out of a children’s fantasy novel. Golden gears, shimmering blue portals, glowing potions, that sort of thing.
Much of the gameplay requires nothing more than point and click, such as gathering the steps to get back into your treehouse after you leave it. There are eleven wooden steps scattered about the scene, and you must pick them up and put them back to advance. Some of the puzzles, around eighty of them all told, are more traditional to the genre. For instance, one early one challenges you to gather eight stones. One is blue, three are red, and four are purple. You must slot them correctly in a stump. There is one slot marked with an X, three that are circular, and four that are square. I’m sure you can figure it out from there. Other puzzles involve scrambled words and mixing potions correctly.
There really isn’t any difficulty to speak of, and you can eventually progress through the story just by slamming the mouse on every square inch of pixel. That’s not very fun, but it would work. And if you can’t figure it out, little hints and “I can’t do that now,” or “That’s not a good use of that item,” point you in the right direction.
Except for the experience, there’s really not a reason to play Dream Chronicles: The Chosen Child again, though the puzzles have a slight random element to them on the next playthrough (so some things are behind a counter instead of under the stove, that sort of thing). That’s not to say you won’t enjoy your time with it, I certainly did. It isn’t a long game, or strenuously challenging, but it is fun to play and search your way through. At times I felt like I was playing, “My First Adventure Game” or something like that. The design is pure throwback to the early nineties adventure games, but it is very well done and not bloated on self importance like some games that come out these days.
Control and Gameplay: Enjoyable
Originality: Above Average
Appeal Factor: Decent
Miscellaneous: Above Average
Final Score: Above Average
Short Attention Span Summary
While not a long, epic struggle by any means, Dream Chronicle: The Chosen Child is still a fun, interesting game. Anyone looking for a solid, classic adventure game can pick this up without hesitation. The graphics are beautiful and the sound does a great job of not getting in its own way. There aren’t really any flaws to speak of, but there aren’t any amazing moments either. If you want to spend a few hours enjoying some great scenery and putting together an old-fashioned mystery, give it a try. The game even has a free 30-minute trial if you go through Play First, so you can try without much fear.