Dreamfall Chapters is now available in full on Xbox One and PS4, after a long and storied history that starts back a decade ago.
The sequel to adventure titles The Longest Journey and Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, Dreamfall Chapters’ story was completed back in 2007. Publisher Funcom owned the rights to the franchise, but sold them to creator Ragnar Tørnquist’s after a decision to focus on online games like The Secret World. Working as an independent developer and producer, Tørnquist’s founded Red Thread Games and began to hire many of the franchise’s original developers. As most of those employees were committed to completion of The Secret World, production of Dreamfall Chapters was put on hold until 2012.
The Norwegian Film Institute provided a series of grants to Red Thread Games: $1 million NOK (ca. $174,000) in November 2012, $1.5 million NOK in May 2013 and $2 million NOK in May 2014. A Kickstarter campaign was also used to secure funding, with Microsoft Windows, OS X and Linux identified as primary platforms. “That’s where… The Longest Journey fans are,” asserted the project’s campaign page.
Upon the Kickstarter campaign’s conclusion, Dreamfall Chapters raised $1,538,425 USD, 180% of Red Thread Games’ initial goal. Moreover, an additional $34,000 USD was raised over PayPal. While iOS and Android releases were added as stretch goals, funding fell short. Additionally, Nintendo had approached Red Thread during pre-production, asking for a Wii U release, but as Tørnquist told GamingBolt, the Wii U wasn’t a priority.
“The Wii U is secondary to making the PC, Mac and Linux versions as good as they can possibly be,” Tørnquist said. “We owe that to our backers.”
The game’s first episode, “Book One: Reborn”, was released on 21 October 2014, followed by “Book Two: Rebels” on 12 March 2015 and “Book Three: Realms” on 25 June 2015. Critically, the first three episodes were not well received.
“When it came to performance… the game stumbled,” Tørnquist said in a Medium post. “It was — this is an understatement — not fantastic. Even with above-recommended hardware specs, many players suffered suboptimal frame-rates and memory-related freezes.”
Red Thread stopped work on Book Four to retroactively upgrade the first three episodes from Unity 4 to Unity 5. It’s that very upgrade that leads us to where we are today; according to Tørnquist, it was needed for stability and to port the franchise to consoles. With that out of the way, “Book Four: Revelations” was released on 3 December 2015, and “Book Five: Redux” on 17 June 2016.
While a VR version of the game was created for Oculus Rift, it has yet to see the light of day. Red Thread’s plan, announced back at Gamescom 2014, was to release a complete version of the game — the “Final Cut” — as a timed-exclusive on PS4. Publication by Deep Silver meant that “Final Cut” would be released simultaneously on PS4, Xbox One and PC instead.
Set in a cyberpunk version of Earth alongside Arcadia, its magical fantasy counterpart, Dreamfall Chapters is a 3D adventure game set in the year 2220. The title is now available on Windows PC, Linux, Mac, Xbox One and PS4.