Imagine the fun you could have if everyone else in your town was stuck in a magical sleep. Hang on, that didn’t come out right…
Dream Chronicles is a hidden object, puzzle adventure on XBLA for 800 MSPoints. The game was originally released on the PC, as so many hidden object games seem to have been, where it enjoyed some success and quite a following, spawning two sequel games to date. This summer saw the release of a forth game, or first game in the second trilogy as it began following a new character rather than the main hero of this title. With two more games due on PC next year, this will bring the total number of Dream Chronicles games to six, so expect to see more of them pop up on XBLA and PSN.
The story revolves around our hero Faye, who has been woken from a magically induced sleep. She soon discovers that the rest of the town, including her daughter, are still in that sleep. Furthermore, her husband has been kidnapped by the fairy queen Lilith. It is up to the player to try and solve the mysteries and save their husband and daughter.
Gameplay proceeds with the player moving from one room to the next, solving puzzles to progress. The vast majority of these puzzles are hidden object based and will have the player hunting high and low for the solutions, although there are also some sequence and other types of puzzles in there to keep it all fresh. The player is not left to their own devices in this world as Fidget, the husband, has tried to leave clues for you to follow.
There are 18 rooms/areas to work through, so depending on your puzzle solving skills, this game could well be over reasonably quickly. I would say that given the 800 MSPoint price tag, Dream Chronicles is somewhat lacking in the longevity department. But the story is quite nice to follow and sets up the player for the next game in the series.
The game has a very calming visual style and is quite colourful to look at. Each of the areas in which the player explores are presented as still pictures, which is a little disconcerting. One thing that may not be apparent to the player at the beginning of the game is that they can effectively step into the scene and look around in a first person style. Although they cannot actually move around the area, being able to adjust the view from the players position within the picture is essential. We found this out rapidly when discovering, after many minutes of searching, an item we needed that was directly in front of us. Without this option, the item would have stayed invisible.
Throughout the game, the player will come across small gems hidden within the environments that can be collected to add to the players score. These gems offer a reason for the player to come back and play again once complete, extending the game beyond it’s short life. There is also a local multiplayer mode. However, all this does is add another cursor to the screen for the second player. The puzzles will all remain the same.
Realistically, the game is very short and will only appeal to gamers who prefer the slower pace of life. There is no sense of urgency within the game, which could be seen as either good or bad depending on your tastes. There is a lack on consistency with the puzzles, where most are easy, but some are mind-numbingly hard.
But I found the story to be nice and compelling. It may have only lasted a couple of hours, but at no point in those couple of hours did I want to put down the controller. The game is over priced for what is on offer, but the promise of more to come means I will happily pay that price again.
Certainly not to everyone’s taste, Dream Chronicles offers a short and relaxing experience that is strangely compelling. If you like your casual, hidden object games, then this is certainly one to consider.