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The Long Journey Towards Convincing Videogame Acting

My latest retro review for HonestGamers was The Longest Journey, which I replayed over the last few weeks. I found myself loving it so much that I immediately went and bought Dreamfall, the sequel, which I never played. I finished it today, after polishing it off mainly in two long sittings (it’s a fraction of the length of the original game). And while I found I didn’t love it quite as much as TLJ, it did have one astonishing moment.

It’s a moment I kinda knew was coming. Because I’m an idiot, I’d already read a load of stuff about Dreamfall before playing it, which included finding out what happens at the end. I knew that there was a scene in which this happens, somewhere towards the climax of the game. But I didn’t know the specifics of how it unfolded. And I didn’t actually expect it to be quite so effective.

Massive bloody spoilers begin here.

So far in the game, Zoe – the main character – has been compelled to search for a little girl, who’s been “haunting” her via static on television screens. The girl had told her to save April Ryan, but that strand of the story turned out to be… well, not particularly relevant to much. Er. It’s difficult to explain. But the main thrust of the half of the story which takes part in the real world has been to find this little girl. And sort of by accident, Zoe has found a small child’s bedroom, inside a laboratory, underneath a processing plant. In the bedroom Zoe finds a datacube, which she inserts into a projector, and then this happens.

The five minute scene that follows is basically just a monologue, albeit a smartly framed one. But I highlight it because, as it turns out, videogame writing and voice acting can be this good. We don’t have to put up with anything else any more! We haven’t had to for ages! Dreamfall got it right. It’s an absolutely flabbergasting performance of an extraordinarily written monologue. At least, I think it is. In a film or a good television series, would this stand out as exceptional? I think it probably would. But that I’m having to ask that question is slightly depressing.

But yes. This is extraordinary. And having finally experienced this, several years after the game’s release, my standards are going to be a lot higher.

It is below. For god’s sake, there are spoilers.

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One response »

  1. It’s funny when you think about it- good monologues in games seem like something that should just be there. It’s not until you really think about it that you realize how rare they are.

    I would’ve preferred it without subtitles. I try to play games without them if I can help it since it helps me listen. Of course, they should exist for the people that have trouble with listening to it due to language or hearing issues, but for an audience that understands, it takes something from the quality of a human voice. What do you think, Lewis?

    Reply

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