I love adventure games (especially those with awesome graphics) and I've played quite a number to date. Here's a few from the top of my head..Escape From Monkey Island, Grim Fandango, Keepsake (read my review here), Uru... Played the first two during college years (thanx to Raiden), the third just last year but still waiting for the installation CDs to the 4th from a friend who'll only be back in Sept or so he said (LOL, if you read this, don't forget the CDs!)
However, these kind of games can take up a lot of time (each game requires 2 installation CDs/1 installation DVD so you do the math =P) and when you don't have that much time to spare, it's either you burn the midnight oil (and get bloodshot eyes to work/class the next day), or glue yourself to the front of the monitor during weekends just so that you can finish the game. (Trust me, when you are hooked, you will do both LOL)
OR... you can play Dream Chronicles.
Dream Chronicles is the casual cousin - casual as in you can finish it in half a day (may vary depending on expertise ); cousin because you still get the same wonderful graphics (mixture of fantasy and magical), interesting storyline (involving fairies), downright easy puzzles to puzzles that will have you squeezing your brain juices (but nothing you can't manage since it's supposed to be "casual" ) - that can serve as a quick fix to your gaming addictions.
In Dream Chronicles, the story begins when Lillith, the Fairy Queen of Dreams cast a sleeping spell over Wish, your village, which affects everyone except Faye (you) thanks to Fidget, Faye's husband. However Faye wakes up to find her husband missing, and her daughter, Lyra in a deep slumber. There's no one around to help you save for Fidget's diary that details his past and what you will need to do to break the spell. You'll learn more from the diary as the story unfolds, scene by scene, with narratives to guide you in between.Like all adventure games, your goal is to solve one or more puzzles in each scene to advance to the next while collecting valuable items along the way (which in this case are dream jewels that helps to increase your score when the game is over).
As mentioned, some puzzles are relatively easy, where all you need to do is click on objects (can be anywhere on the screen) and placing them at the correct spots to advance. Dream Chronicles makes it much more easier such that when your mouse hovers over a particular object/location, its name or description will pop up, thus you'll know whether it's the right object or location. Also, if you have a hard time locating some objects, they do glitter once in a while making them easier to find. An example would be the very first puzzle where you are stucked in your bedroom with the door covered in ice. Not only do you need to locate the key to unlock the door, you'll also need to set up a fire to melt the ice. All items picked up will be stored in the tray at the bottom of the screen thus you don't have to worry about forgetting the items that are currently in your possession.
Some puzzle are harder and requires a bit more thinking not to mention time. Such puzzles might need you to arrange items in a particular order, do some math or use objects 'on' another in order to obtain necessary results before you can proceed. In one location, you will need to reproduce blinking lights in a specific order so that stair steps will appear to allow you to go to the next storey. In another instance, you'll need to get the right objects in terms of their weights before you can unlock the main gate to go beyond your village. All in all, the puzzles are nothing too mind boggling...just a little extra attention and everything should fall into place
In short, Dream Chronicles is a very engaging game, nothing you'll get bored of easily, though I find it to be a tad too short. There are also a few shortcomings such as you can't retract your steps to previous locations - in my case, to get screenshots! - but these are all very minor and do not affect the overall gameplay. At the end of it, I found myself hoping for more - more breathtaking scenes, more puzzles to think over, more secrets to uncover. Well, can't complain too much I guess since it is meant to be a short adventure game. The sound effects are great too as it brings to life the fantasy world. And to wrap it up, a sequel will most definitely be a dream come true