Review: Dream Chronicles (PS3)
by Alex Lucard on December 10, 2010

Dream Chronicles
Developer: Playfirst
Publisher: Hudson Soft
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: 11/30/2010

The Dream Chronicles series has been around for a while, but it’s just now making its way to consoles. Playfirst had tweaked the graphics and even slightly changed the viewpoint for the Xbox 360 and now the PS3 release of the first game in the franchise. I have to admit that when I played the demo, I thought it was quaint, by my girlfriend found it to be boring and dull (although she liked the new Mystery Case Files game) a lot. I really had no plans to play the game, especially after 7th gave the 360 version of this same game, one of the lowest scores of all time on this site. However, when HudsonSoft gave us a review copy, I agreed to play it. Why? Well, last year AJ gave the third game in the series, The Chosen Child a fairly positive review, and I also tend to like point and click games more than anyone on staff. I mean this is my fifteenth adventure game review of the year (and sixty-second review of 2010 to boot), which is more than any three other staffers combined. Since this has somehow become a genre I’m known for, I figured, “I just did MCF and Antiques Roadshow – why not make it a hat trick?”

So with one staffer enjoying the series and one wanting to set it on fire and throw the remains in a swamp, where did I come down on the first Dream Chronicles game for the PS3?

Let’s Review

1. Story

You are a nameless lady. You wake up one morning to discover you’ve married into a family of fairies (uh huh huh huh) and your daughter has been put to sleep by magical spell cast on her by an angry Queen of the Fairies named Lilith. You then have to play a bunch of hidden object and puzzle games to get your bedroom, through your house and to Lilith’s mansion where you solve a puzzle and then you get a nonsensical ending that leaves you going, “What the hell did I just play through?” The entirety of the game will span you between twenty minutes and two hours, depending on if you use a strategy guide or not and/or if you decide to look for all hidden “dream pieces” on each of the eighteen chapters of the game. Dream Pieces are just there to take up time and net you a few trophies. It’s padding. And considering we are talking about padding in a game that you can whiz through in less time than a movie or even a sitcom episode, that’s really sad.

There is no character development and any plot point come from either written monologues on the screen which are poorly done and convey no sense of character upon the protagonist, or journal entries from your husband which again, do nothing but give you the most minuscule semblance of a plot and you’re actually punished by reading it as the game wants you to beat it as quickly as possible if you’re looking for a high score or trophies. Adventure games live or die based on their plot and the fact Dream Chronicles actively shows disdain towards its own story and tries to rush a gamer through the incredibly short affair saddens and even sickens me a little. It’s like Playfirst doesn’t get the point and click audience at all.

Story Rating: Worthless

2. Graphics

Like most adventure games, the visuals are comprised almost solely of static images. The game is also a first person affair and you’ll never encounter any character models (save in the very last cut scene and they aren’t pretty), so it’s a very dull affair, especially compared to most adventure games. The images themselves are decent looking, but some of the items you have to find on your screen come off as amorphous blobs rather than looking like the actual items you are supposed to find. This makes the game a bit frustrating to play through as the graphics sometimes actually hinder your progress, but at least the background images are well rendered and detailed for the most part.

Much like everything else about this game, Dream Chronicles is an attempt to put the absolute minimum effort into a game and see if it can still sell. There’s not a lot here visually, and although the static images are decent looking, the rest of the visuals and the lack of any real substance brings the overall graphics quality down.

Graphics Rating: Below Average

3. Sound

There really isn’t a lot to talk about here but what I do have to say isn’t very good. The music in Dream Chronicles is pretty awful. The background tracks border on insipid and tend to be annoying in the same way elevator music is meant to be soothing but then fails miserably at that job. The best the music gets is with a piano based puzzle (that is god awful to play through). Even then it’s a few short notes of classical music like “Ode to Joy.” and that’s it. Considering that’s the best the game gets, that’s really sad.

There really isn’t much in the way of sound effects either. You get a happy tune if you solve a puzzle, but otherwise it just the sound of clicking. Click click click click click click click. Again, it seems there was no effort put into making the game – like it was a middle school computer class project or something. It’s kind of shameful that this game has almost no music or sound effects. It’s like playing a screensaver.

Sound Rating: Dreadful

4. Control and Gameplay

Okay, I’m going to be brutally honest here – Dream Chronicles is one of the worst adventure games I’ve ever played. It’s one of the worst games of 2010. It really should not be played by anyone ever. I’m glad AJ liked the third game, so it means that either this first one is just awful or it just hasn’t adapted to console gaming very well. Still, this particular incarnation of the game is so bad I want to pretend it doesn’t exist.

First of all, the game plays exactly like a PC point and click title in that you use the left analog stick as a mouse and the X button to click. That’s fine. I am totally fine with that. What I’m not fine with is that you have to use the square button to make the mouse move anything faster than molasses. Even with the speed up button the cursor moves at a fraction of what it would on a PC and this is annoying. VERY annoying. Second, when you click on an item it automatically goes into your inventory instead of floating attached to your cursor like most GOOD adventure games would allow. This means you slowly go to an item, then you click on it, then it flies down to the bottom of your screen here you slowly move down towards, click the item again and slowly drag it back to where you want it. This is especially frustrating if you only need to move the item an inch or two.

Then there are the bugs. Three times I had to restart my game because an item that was needed to proceed didn’t generate on my screen. For example, I needed a saw to cut some boards. However, the saw was not on the screen. I sat there for fifteen minutes looking for the saw. Finally in frustration I looked up a walkthrough that gave me a visual location of where the saw should be. It wasn’t there. So I was stuck. I had to restart the game. The second time the saw was not there. After a third reboot of the game it generated. That is unacceptable. This also happened with a puppet show that I needed to find gears for. This alone makes the game worthless but wait, there’s more.

For some stupid reason, Playfirst decided to throw in the ability to zoom in and or move your game screen slight up, down or to the right. I’m sure this is a nod to console gamers who aren’t used to adventure games in this day and age, but this is so unintuitive to anyone who still plays adventure games that it does more harm than good. Again, it appears Playfirst doesn’t get why people play these types of games or what the appeal is. This is one of the worst designed adventure games I have ever played. I cannot stress that enough. It does everything wrong and spectacularly so.

Control and Gameplay Rating: Worthless

5. Replayability

As awful as the game is, it does try to give you reasons to replay it. You can go back and try to find all the dream pieces, though those are admittedly just padding. You can also replay the game to beat your time and score, and you can get trophies for doing all of these things. There’s even trophies for beating the game in under thirty minutes or under 25 minutes. Again, I cannot state how much that bothers me, but hey, I guess it’s something. It’s just too bad the game is so awful you’ll barely want to play it once, much less multiple times. I’ll give it points for trying to add replay value, even if it’s done horribly.

Replayability Rating: Bad

6. Balance

This is another area where the game falls into dire straits. We have a game here where the puzzles are either exceptionally easy to the point of being condescending or are so esoteric that only a longtime point and click gamer will get them. Of course, those long time adventure fans will hate this game so much that they probably won’t touch it with a ten foot pole. It also doesn’t help that sometimes items you need to proceed don’t generate, that other items are literally impossible to see on the screen and you’ll have to randomly click on things in hopes of finding what you need, and other items look nothing like what they are supposed to. Basically this game is a giant mess of awfulness from beginning to end. The game also commits the cardinal sin of adventure games by having puzzles that have nothing to do with the plot and puzzles that lack any real logic whatsoever.

Again, this is one of the worst adventure games I’ve ever played and it’s so horribly designed and unbalanced that it is worse than a chore to play through – it is torture.

Balance Rating: Worthless

7. Originality

I can at least give the game points here for some original puzzles like the staircase fiasco or the piano note playing. Unfortunately, neither of them are any fun. The same goes for the very final puzzle in the game which is so awful you’ll have to experience it for yourself to get the Cthulhuian madness it will inflict upon you. Sure the game is horribly awful, but at least Playfirst stuck some original puzzles in the game. I just wish said puzzles were any good. Aside from those bits, Dream Chronicles is painfully generic, dull, and short.

Originality Rating: Bad

8. Addictiveness

I went in with an open mind, especially after having done two other longer, better, prettier, and more interesting adventure games. Unfortunately this was so bad, the only reason I played it (twice) was for review purposes. The game was less than an hour long but it was so awful it felt like hours. I can honestly say there was nothing about the game I liked, it was one of the worst adventure games I have ever played, and it was so dull and boring that even I, who usually defends this genre have nothing positive to say. This my friends is one of my least favorite games of 2010.

Addictiveness Rating: Worthless

9. Appeal Factor

Let’s see. Most of the people that would enjoy this game probably did so on the PC back in 2007. Now it’s 2010 and it’s on a console and for a whopping $10. Considering most games in this genre are $6.99-9.99 and have ten to twenty times more content, this is shameful. Notice I use that word a lot in talking about this game.

If you want an adventure game for your PS3, get something like one of the Telltale games (The Sam & Max ones are free to Playstation Plus owners later this month, or for the same price as this piece of crap, you can get The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition, which is one of the best games ever made in this genre). Seriously, there is no audience for this game. There really isn’t. It’s awful in every way, and you can get far superior games for less on either your PS3 or PC. There is no reason anyone should get this game and if god forbid, someone actually enjoys it, you check them into Arkham immediately.

Appeal Factor: Worthless

10. Miscellaneous

At $9.99, Dream Chronicles is an overpriced piece of clutter that will just take up space on your PS3’s hard drive. Again, as a long time PC adventure game I can easily recommend hundreds of adventure games that are between $2.99 and $9.99 that are far superior to this. Even if you want to stick to the PS3 you have over a dozen options that cost less than this, are better looking, have a great story, and are far longer. Why pay $9.99 for something that is so bad even the developers want you to get through it as quickly as possible? Save your money and get a different point and click title. Save yourself and your money.

Miscellaneous Rating: Worthless

The Scores
Story: Worthless
Graphics: Below Average
Sound: Dreadful
Control and Gameplay: Worthless
Replayability: Bad
Balance: Worthless
Originality: Bad
Addictiveness: Worthless
Appeal Factor: Worthless
Miscellaneous: Worthless
FINAL SCORE: DREADFUL GAME!

Short Attention Span Summary
Although it’s not the worst game of 2010 (That would be Walk it Out), Dream Chronicles is a close second. The developers have put in the minimal effort possible into story, graphics and sound, and unfortunately the conversion from PC to PS3 is appallingly bad. Items that are needed to proceed sometimes don’t generate so you’ll need to reboot, puzzles are either stupidly easy or esoteric and the game can be done in less than half an hour. Save your money for one of Telltales adventure games if you’re looking for a point and click experience for your PS3. For your information, if you REALLY want to play this, go download the half-hour long PC demo from Bigfishgames.com. It’s free and enough time to beat the thing. Ho ho ho.



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