As point and click games are the genre that sparked my passion for PC gaming, I have a fair collection of them. I was pretty uneducated about the gaming market and just kept buying these types of games. However, as the selection started to dry up, I started buying anything that sounded interesting and inevitably ended up in the first-person shooter genre with games such as Half-Life, Call of Duty and Medal of Honor. Since then, action & FPS have become my favorite genres and it's hard to go back to the slow pace of point and click. I just really don't enjoy them as much as I once did. However, I hope I can offer an objective view on how this one stacks up in its niche.
The Longest Journey is the first game of the series and not to be confused with its sequel, Dreamfall: The Longest Journey. It tells the story of April Ryan as she learns of the impossible - two versions of Earth existing in different dimensions. These used to be one, but long ago when the powers that be saw chaos arising between the practices of science and magic, they created the split. A Guardian was then appointed to maintain a balance between the two and this worked for a very long time with each world being unaware of the other. However, the Guardian has gone missing and now the disparity is starting again causing rifts in the barrier.
The worlds are called Stark and Arcadia and April has a special gift called shifting that allows her to open a portal between the two. This makes her infinitely qualified to investigate the two worlds and to play an integral role in preventing the chaos from arising again. Well-intentioned parties also convince her that her destiny is to be the next Guardian whose job for 1,000 years is to maintain the Balance. This begins her long journey to first believe and then accept her destiny.
The story is quite interesting and in-depth, but that also means a lot of dialogue to sift through. Sometimes it feels like you will never get to the end of it although much of it can be interesting and humorous. The game does eventually give the option to stop the dialogue before everything has been explored, but then you would miss out on parts of the story and the development of other characters. You also don't know what part of the conversation will trigger the next move, so you pretty much have to exhaust the options.
There are actually not that many puzzles in the sense of trying to figure out codes and numbers and positioning of things, but these are mostly of the type that makes use of items in your inventory. So explore areas and try to pick up everything that offers a hand symbol. There are one or two though where you may have to resort to a walkthrough for the answer, but I find this is fairly typical of these games as the puzzles are often obtuse.
As to be expected with a game of this age, the graphics are pixilated. Unfortunately there is no mod to improve these. You also cannot change the resolution and there is no fix for this. In saying that though, it's really not that bad and only very apparent in more distance views. April does not look too bad, but the other characters do look pretty crude. Improvements in character rendition have always been well behind that of environments.
I ran across two specific problems in my game. The first was in missing picking up the pink note from the bulletin board and giving it to Fiona, April's landlord. If you miss this, you can't progress, but may not know that for awhile. It means you will have to replay anything past that point. The second was failing to give Fiddler the star map with the same result, although you don't have to go too far back for this one. However, the great thing about this game is being able to save almost anytime you want, so save often in case you have to go back.
One of the things that drive me crazy about this genre is the often endless retracing of steps through pointless screens. Although this game has some of that, I did not find it bothering me too much as the game also keeps introducing new locations and characters. One of the most amusing is Crow, the talking bird.
If I were a person who still really enjoyed this genre, I would definitely put this one my list and if you've played the sequel Dreamfall, it's kind of nice to know the story of April Ryan. It received very high ratings when it was released and truth be told, I did rather like it. It seems that I'm in agreement with the mainstream reviews and would place it near the top of point and click games.
Interestingly, a sequel is in the works called Dreamfall Chapters and a Kickstarter campaign was launched on Feb 8, 2013 to help with the funding. In a matter of hours it had already reached 10% of its goal and a mere week later was fully funded. If you don't know what Kickstarter is, have a look. The success of this campaign is evidence that many people love this series and look forward to getting answers to all the loose ends created in Dreamfall.