The metaphysical lore of Dreamfall Chapters | A Guide
Dreamfall Chapters draws both from science and mythology and remixes that knowledge to explore metaphysical themes. Those metaphysical concepts can be confusing and sometimes seem out of place in the game’s atmosphere, so you get confused because of the game acting like a hip teenager who is cool because they smoke, while also being spiritual at the same time. In this semi-Q&A guide, I wanted to answer questions the game leaves open, mainly for myself to understand the story better. The metaphysical concepts of Dreamfall Chapters and The Longest Journey can overall be overwhelming at first. It might take time to puzzle it out all out, but it’s also these concepts that made the game so entertaining for me. I loved both trying to understand them and pretend that I do understand them, despite the fact that I didn’t care all that much overall.
When I was trying to understand these concepts by simply looking them up, I found that the wiki was rather desolate and empty compared to how much the game itself packs.
It’s obvious at first sight that Dreamfall Chapters comes with a plethora of spiritual and mythological concepts, all woven into the fabric of the story. What might be less obvious is the meaning behind each of these concepts and how exactly do they relate to the game’s various plot-lines. Dreamfall Chapters might just be the type of game you must replay more than once before fully integrating its spiritual message. After replaying the game for the third time, each time spaced across a few years, and finding that, surely due to the fandom’s size, the wikia was painfully empty of knowledge and couldn’t help me understand the game better, I decided to compile a hopefully helpful guide to Dreamfall Chapters‘ fascinating lore. In this semi-Q&A guide, I’m attempting to answer questions the game often leaves purposefully open or flits over very briefly, in hope the reader will be slightly more informed and understand Dreamfall Chapter‘s metaphysical aspects better.
- Lux & the dream
- Lux and the Undreaming
- What is the House of All Worlds (HOAW)?
- Paths & Songlines
- How did Saga’s mother get lost?
- Why can’t Saga locate them both?
- What about Crow?
Let’s begin at the beginning of everything.
The world of TLJ Saga is build on the idea that the fabric of the universe is woven in dreams. In Dreamfall, dreams are what makes reality real, as paradoxical as it may sound. Briefly, in Australian aboriginal mythology, the Dreamtime is a place that stands timeless, and where everything begins, began and will begin. That is where the ‘Creator’ and spirits created the world and taught its people (human beings) how they ought to live. As the developers have stated, the idea behind Storytime is drawn from Australian aboriginal mythology, something mentioned in-universe via Helena.
Similarly, Storytime is a place made of dreams and where all the dreams are stored, located and created—aka where what shapes reality is manufactured. It the place where worlds can be dreamed, and thus created. Because the fabric of everything is made of dreams, it means that people’s dreams can potentially have the power to shape reality, although accessing that capability seems reserved to people who either naturally have that gift like Luxus, or artificially manufactured dreamers such as Zoe.
Storytime is not exactly a stand-alone world like Stark, but rather the source of all worlds. Due to Storytime’s nature, everyone’s consciousness travels there when dreaming. That travel is more of a projection (see: astral projection) than an actual physical trip, meaning only the mind travels there by projecting itself there. Much like in real life, sleeping incurs a “return to the source,” albeit only partial. Because Storytime is an immaterial realm of dreams, it technically cannot be accessed physically. Zoe accesses Storytime while dreaming, i.e when she is comatose in Mumbai, or later when she learns the truth about the Undreaming. It’s possible that, as a Dreamer, Zoe is physically capable of accessing Storytime. However, she never seems to during the course of the story.
Since when people dream, their consciousness access Storytime, Zoe can see everyone that is dreaming when connected to the dream machine in Storytime. The difference between Zoe’s appearance and the dreamers’—Zoe seems material enough, but the dreamers are just figures of light—likely lies in the fact that she is a Dreamer, and thus has the capacity of changing the fabric of the universe. That specific ability would grant her a unique connection with Storytime, since she also likely taps into that place whenever she changes reality, whereas people in Storytime when dreaming are only passing through, hence why she is visually different.
The only known exception, so far, to have physically travelled to Storytime is Brian, and his travelling to this particular place seemed to be an accident. It’s likely the reason why the Undreaming could even possess him in the first place: because he was there physically. It is also confusing how Brian even ended up there, considering that Crows states he travelled there via a portal.
As for the Guardian’s nature, it is unknown. He could just be a projection set by Lux to guard the realm of dreams. What is known, however, is that he is just like Abnaxus; his perception of time is more circular than linear and thus he sees time differently than humans. However, he claims that someone has tempered with his perception and he has become unsure; it is implied that this person is, of course, Brian, who was able to accomplish such a feat because of the Undreaming’s power. Since the Undreaming is the other side of Luxus, as we’ll see below, it isn’t surprising it can temper with someone’s control of Storytime (since Lux created Storytime).
The second most important aspect of DFC and TLJ Saga at large is the concept that time is a circle. The idea has actually been debated multiple times by spiritual personalities and has been scientifically put forward, and I recommend this video to familiarize yourself with the concept. To put it simply, the idea behind is that time is a fourth dimension that can be fully travelled and explored. This dimension does not exist independently of other dimensions, humans simply can’t perceive it. When this dimension is included in human perception, everything is all happening right now. There is no before or after, there is only now. Everything is accessible and exists now. There is no beginning or end because everything is now. The concept of time as a circle is recurrent in TLJ Saga.
It seems the race of the Venar, to which Abnaxus belongs, do not share in humans’ linear understanding of time, but have a circular perception of it, just as previously described. Abnaxus’ way of speaking is a testament of it. It seems that as a race meant to communicate with humans and other magical races, Abnaxus has had to adjust to a more linear perception of time to properly accommodate the races that perceive it that way and to communicate with them. His way of speaking also denotes of his confusion at the linear understanding of time, which he finds reductive. To him, there’s no difference between past, present or future, because everything is happening in the now, hence his distorted speech when he tries to communicate what he sees in human language—a difficult endeavour which I certainly understand.
It also seems members of the Venar are meant to leave the linear timeline at one point or another to return to their 4D perception of life. However, they can delay that eventuality. Assuming Abnaxus’ case is a rule, any Venar lingering behind beyond their ‘allotted time’ will suffer their perception of time being completely reduced to linear. Abnaxus is ‘blind’ in the above screenshot because he has lost his perspective on time which allowed him to predict events. It also seems that, somehow, if a Venar does not “leave” on time and prolongs their stay past a certain point, they actually die instead of passing on to this ‘other realm’ or more complex perception of reality.
Lux and the dream
Note: I’m using ‘he/him’ pronoun purely out of habit because I’m a sad Frenchie and our sexist grammar compels us to use ‘he’ as a gender-neutral pronoun.
Lux is a being from an unknown species or “race” and seems to be one of a kind. He is visibly sexless and genderless.
His defining feature is to create life from his dreams. Since dreaming happens within the mind, it only seems logical to conclude the multiverse is within Lux’s mind. It means the multiverse is Lux’s daydream, except a bit more potent and solid. As a Dreamer, his primary function is to dream, thus his daydream does not risk dissipating at any given moment unless harms come to him. If the multiverse is not located within Lux’s mind, or even if it is, a further guess is that he projects a holographic rendition of the dream outwards. It’s unclear “where” the multiverse is located in this instance, although presumably it’s still within his mind. It’s essentially the same question as “where is the universe located?” if there’s even such a thing, since the very concept of location technically only makes sense within the universe.
It seems that to interact with him, you must reach inside his mind, at which point you will see a holographic rendition of him. His physical location is also unclear. It’s likely he does not have one in the first place, since he is the creator. It’s also possible that Zoe only needed to reach inside his mind to interact with him because he did not have the soul stone with him at the time.
Just like him, the creatures who populate the ‘dream’ are also simple projections. They do ‘exist,’ in the sense that they are projections. Or perhaps that is what it means to exist. According to this logic, every atom and particle of the multiverse is a projection. Perhaps his body is “outside” the dream, or perhaps he does not have a body in the first place.
Zoe’s case is also interesting. She was physically in Mumbai, which is where she was truly located (read: where her mind was located). The copy in Propast was essentially a clone of herself, or an (astral) projection. However, Zoe is often encouraged to ‘wake up’ and return to ‘reality’, suggesting that for any projection that is not Lux, it is importing they remind located where their mind is. Zoe’s case suggests projections have a physical mass, making the multiverse ‘real’ in a material, physical sense. It also implies Lux is capable of creating matter, or the illusion of it. Or perhaps the very 3D nature of Lux’s daydream is to be material. This is starting to sound like a debate about the fabric of our own universe, at this rate, but anyway.
View the whole thing as developers working on the next Sims game, except more complex. Every living being is a figment of Lux’ imagination, and yet that’s enough for them to be ‘alive’. Hence, why he’s called a dreamer, and as his moniker indicates (The first dreamer), he is the first to have ever done so.
His humanoid appearance has two explanation: the meta explanation is that as humans, we are limited in such a way that we are incapable of imagining something that is not somewhat familiar to us. In-universe, all beings are Lux’s creation, thus it is those beings who resemble him and not the other way around, and he used himself as a reference point for his creations.
No one seems to be Lux’s equal, although that’s a bit unclear because Saga does state:
Whether that indicates Zoe can bestow her dreamer abilities onto anyone she wishes, or that she can genetically pass it down is purely speculative. Whether it also means that she simply ensured the dream’s continuity by her simple existence is also up to interpretation. It’s also unclear what specific role she shares alongside Lux, the creator of the dream. Perhaps he created it, and she became essential in preserving it. Perhaps it is her intervention in helping Lux which somehow bonded her to him. Crow does state that for a moment, while communicating with Lux, she looked as though she was made of light (-read: the highest expression of energy). Zoe’s dreams only affected her own life and nearest surrounding, and we haven’t seen her birth a whole universe just yet (unless you adhere to the theory that human beings are miniature renditions of the universe, at which point, sure, she did birth an entire universe in a sense). Hannah was also deemed “too weak” to interfere with the reality reshaping happening around the twin worlds. Besides, Zoe’s abilities were manufactured in a lab, all of which implies, to me at least, that her abilities do not compare to Lux’s. Besides 2.0, even if there is another Dreamer around, this dreamer is not independent of Lux because they’re his creation. It looks a bit like this:
↳ Zoe / Other Dreamers
Lux dreams Zoe → Zoe dreams a second version of herself in Propast
A projection of a projection, a copy of a copy, one possibly weaker than the original Zoe or than Lux, since everyone urged Zoe to wake up. It’s otherwise unclear if there exists ‘true-born’ dreamers like Lux, or if he is the only one.
Lux and the Undreaming (Dark!Lux)
The Undreaming is Lux’s dark side, or his polar opposite.
The Undreaming was residing in Storytime before it possessed Brian. Because Storytime is the source of everything, it seems logical to conclude that Lux was also located in Storytime at the very beginning. My guess is that he was forced to leave and was sheltered in the Border Mountains after the soul stone was stolen from him. It is also likely that is when the separation with his opposite happened, thus creating the Undreaming. That is one of the reasons why the ending of DFC was always about reuniting them—i.e, because they were originally bounded as one. My personal theory is that, perhaps the worlds of Arcadia and Stark split at this precise moment, when the stone was taken. It seems events of this magnitude can be proof of causality. Although if true, that would suggest other catalytic events of the same magnitude occurred in numerous worlds, if not all of them.
Without his opposite, Dark!Lux couldn’t achieve harmony. Their existence is based off the yin and yang concept: that every single aspect of life can only exist if its opposite does, because a concept is only highlighted when faced with its opposite. As we see at the end of the game, the Undreaming is Lux but look like his emo dark side. That duality is represented with a colour at the other end of the spectrum: Lux’s main colour being pastel blue close to white, Dark lux look dark purple to represent their opposition and thus complementarity. Essentially, if the Undreaming didn’t exist, Lux wouldn’t either, and vice versa. Because if not dreaming exists, it means dreaming does. One is highlighted by the existence of the other, hence why they are opposite. That is why the resolution of the game involved them reuniting because of the need for… You guessed it, balance.
The Undreaming might have been wreaking havoc partially because it’s in his nature (it’s Lux’s opposite, after all), but also out of a lack of balance.
It’s implied the Undreaming was miserable without his other half and always wished for reunification with Lux, which is why I believe Brian might have been an easy, tempting prey to possess as it seems that—beyond the fact that Brian was present at the opportune moment—both characters yearned for home. It’s also interesting to note that essentially, the Undreaming did not have the “wrong” goal in mind, but was simply employing all the “wrong” methods to get there. More specifically, he employed the opposite methods Lux would. Lux creates, and thus the Undreaming destroys. It’s also implied that when integrated, the destructive energy of Dark!Lux can be used differently/better, or hand-in-hand with Lux’s creative energy, hence creating a more balanced outcome.
What about Brian?
Brian is just a guy who wanted to explore the world and accidentally got possessed by Lux’ opposite force. Building on the previous section, that force inhabited him, and because it’s the other side of the coin (the opposite of Lux) it animated Brian with the will to control and destroy the dream. It seems that poor Brian accidentally got caught in the middle of it.
Brian seemed quite confused and surprised to be in Storytime and had no idea where he was or how he got here. To me, his confusion when travelling to Storytime implies that he aimed for Arcadia, or for what he believed to be an unknown, mysterious “new” world, but not Storytime.
The situation is a bit ambiguous, and it’s difficult to detangle whose ambition was it to wreck the fabric of the universe to reshape it. My guess is, of course, that it was Dark!Lux’s goal to do so. At first, Brian likely hadn’t had the faintest clue about the nature of the universe when stepping into that portal, and the height of his own ambition might have only been to travel to Arcadia, without knowing of other universes or of Storytime. Merging with the Undreaming caused his despair, thus his obsession with going home (something the Undreaming mirrored) and it nagged at him until he gave into The Undreaming’s demands. Brian just needed a real holiday where nothing tries to possess him simply because he was in the wrong place at the wrong (ha) time.
And what about Wati?
Wati are the small-time players. They’re small-time players because they did not have half the information regarding Storytime and the nature of the multiverse; they played in Helana’s palm who herself played in Brian’s palm, who himself was a victim of the Undreaming, who itself wished to return to Lux. In this hierarchy, they are at the lowest possible rank. They likely knew nothing of Lux and Brian because their closest known associate, their known source regarding the metaphysical nature of their world was Helena. With the reduced amount of information they possessed, their first instinct, their only instinct, was to use their limited knowledge of dreams as a marketing coup to make a profit. They essentially served the same function as the Azadi in Arcadia, albeit unknowingly, which was to collect as many dreams as possible to power Eigana (Stark’s tngine) so that the twin engines could tap into the Well of Dreams and reshape reality.
The game also dabbles with the idea of reincarnation. Being a child of the white dragon, April’s soul is meant to reincarnate continuously. In TLJ Saga, the idea of reincarnation is that one’s being enters a new body, but a part of the soul gets attached to a newer soul. April’s consciousness such as we knew it in TLJ does not co-exists in Saga’s body. Rather, April is woven into the fabric of Saga. After April’s passing, her soul goes to Saga, hence, why Saga has many of her memories and feels as though she sees from another’s eyes. Saga seems acutely aware of the connection, although not aware enough to properly articulate it.
April wished very badly to be reincarnated because she was stuck in a state of hopelessness as per the Faith Model. Zoe ‘saved’ her because she ensured April died, thus securing the well-being of her soul by letting it reincarnate. That way, she would be free of the looped cycle of despair she couldn’t get out of. As April said to Kian, she was free.
If we actually look closely, I believe that April in DFC and Saga were both created using the same model, because their faces are incredibly similar. The developers may have tried to show the bond and resemblance between both souls via their physical features.
Some spiritual personalities state a soul requires a specific amount of ‘earth’ years before reincarnation, which completely works with the game’s narrative because Saga was born in the House of All Worlds.
What is the House of All Worlds (HOAW)?
The House of All Worlds is a physical place that is in-between everything. It’s infused with specific properties that allows it to exist everywhere at the same time. That immaterial space where location is null is called the Aether. Because it exists everywhere, it is located nowhere. We’ve already established that time is a fully travel-able dimension that humans simply can’t access because of their linear perception of it. This house is not located anywhere in time because it is everywhere, and thus nowhere at the same time. It has no anchor in space-time, and thus accessing it is a tremendous feat because there is no clear time and place to go to in order to access it.
Using the tesseract example of Interstellar, one location was made accessible (Murphy’s bedroom), and everything at all times is always accessible and can be navigated at will. Everything that existed within this bedroom is there. To someone like Saga or her parents, or perhaps creatures like the Venar, accessing a specific time-space address is possible because of their ability to travel songlines. But unlike the Interstellar example, the HOAW is even more out of that loop, because it contains no information related to either time or space. So, even if a person did not have a 3D perception of time, and had the ability to navigate time like in Interstellar‘s tesseract example, they would still be hard-pressed to access the HOAW.
Because the house is not anchored in time, it functions according to its own “time”. If Saga wanted to go to Marcuria, she would have to listen in to the songlines she knows will lead her there. That is only possible because Marcuria has a fixed physical location. If Saga wanted to access Marcuria during, say, the Tyren invasion, she would have to pick a songline which both indicates that specific time and that specific place. Marcuria is anchored in time and space, so it can be accessed. The same goes for everything in the multiverse. The House of All Worlds functions outside that system.
That being said, Saga does not seem to have the same issue as her parents accessing the house, which both suggests that Saga is incredibly talented, but also that there are songlines which travel back to the house. However, as she states, these songlines are only occasionally passing through, which seriously increases the difficulty of accessing the house.
She seems to have ease finding it and would recognise which path leads back home, but it’s clear her parents struggled more with that concept. While at first, they’re delighted to live in the house, they are more and more reluctant to leave it for fear of being lost. Before Eta’s final disappearance, an incredible amount of “time” stretches before her return which sets Magnus on edge. The same seemed to have happened to Magnus himself; he would be gone very long, worrying Eta. In this instance, “time” represents the house’s own clock. Both had a hard time finding their way back: aka, they struggled to find which path in space-time to ride to return home.
Magnus’ fear that Saga would get lost like her mother was ultimately unfounded. Saga’s incredible abilities come both from her parents who could clearly navigate songlines well, and would only struggle to find their absolutely impossible to find house, and from April who could shift across the twin worlds. It seems Saga took all three of their abilities and made the best of it.
As mentioned earlier, an unknown amount of time may have elapsed between April’s death and Saga’s birth, which fits the idea of a soul needing a certain amount of time before reincarnation. Since Saga was born in the HOAW, she was everywhere and nowhere in space-time, and a century could have elapsed before April’s soul would have finally found Saga.
The HOAW differs from Storytime in the sense that it is not the birthplace of the whole multiverse, so despite its similarities, it does not share in whatever specific properties Storytime has.
Paths & Songlines
Saga is known to travel what she calls songlines. These songlines are energetic paths that allow her to move from one physical place to another, and because these paths are energy, they allow her to go pretty much anywhere in any universe and in any timelines. Saga is effectively the most travelled person in the multiverse. While in TLJ, the shifter ability was, in-meta, introduced as unique and new, it also implied within the universe that not many people could shift from one place to another. And besides, April’s powers were limited to the twin worlds. It seems that between TLJ and DFC, the amount of capable shifters has drastically increased. Either it was once again done for the sake of the plot and has no in-world cause, or there always was a constant flux of shifters alive, since Eta and Magnus acted as if it was perfectly normal. Magnus could build a house in the middle of absolutely nowhere, which required a specific sort of knowledge, and Saga had tutors and whatnot visiting the house semi-regularly, meaning travelling these songlines isn’t unheard of and is practised by multiple people.
Songlines contain data indicative of x world (location) at x time. But as Saga states, these paths are treacherous at the best of times. They seem to appear and vanish according to some unknown principle (“winds between worlds”) and do not stay accessible very long according to ‘earth’ time.
Despite how volatile the paths are, Saga is capable enough to handle them. Her awareness of the danger they pause also helps. She also states that, as a musician, she is able to create her own lines, although she usually travels already existing ones. It’s unclear whether lines she creates dissipates after usage, relocate or stay put, but this tells us that not only there are a multitude of lines all over the multiverse and everywhere can be accessed, it also tells us Saga can open new ones at will with the help of music, which also confirms the theory that all is sound. Considering all her memories, it seems she’s been to an incredible number of worlds and only her own mortality stopped her from continuing. That would suggest her own powers are, if not limitless, of the highest degree we’ve ever seen in the entire series.
How did Saga’s mother get lost?
Saga’s mother never made it back to the House of All Worlds because she not only got lost in space, she also got lost in time. Or at least, it’s implied so in the game. It seemed that as time passed (HOAW time), both Magnus and Eta became more and more reluctant to leave the house because of the risk they may never return. The theory behind Eta’s disappearance is that she is stuck in a specific timeline and has continuously failed to figure out which path can lead her back home. Maybe because of the instability of the songlines, none appeared, and unlike Saga, Eta cannot create new paths.
The second possibility is that no time at all has passed since she last headed out. Maybe she stumbled in a world where time passes so incredibly slowly, she has only just arrived and she’s happily looking for antiques and souvenirs while Magnus is agonising over her loss.
When Magnus says she’s out there somewhere, he’s right. She’s out there somewhere both in time and space. Because of relativity, she is going to die at some point, just like Saga, but it’s a bit unclear to me whether Saga wouldn’t just have to pick that one location she’s in and travel along that path to find her. The contradictory concept of her possible death and of her possible continued existence because everything is happening at the same time confuses the hell out of me, so I’m afraid here that’s as far as I can explain. However, generally, this is how she never made it back to the house. As for Magnus, however, it seems he never came back because he didn’t want to, and he wanted to keep searching for both Saga and Eta.
But why can’t Saga locate them both?
To find her parents again, Saga would have to know beforehand what time-space ‘point’ they’re in, then pick a path or create one that leads to it to find them. Because she has no idea where they are time-space, it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack and all she can do is travel as extensively as possible to find them, which she has, and she never managed to locate them.
What about Crow?
Crow seems to be important because he is part of the magical races. It’s unclear how, but the game implies that from April’s, Kian’s and later Saga’s companionship, his very existence is crucial in making connections happen. My guess is that his reincarnation did that; after his death, Saga rides a songline with his corpse and presumably leaves to another world. Afterwards, we see a tiny Crow, or a reincarnated version of him sitting on her shoulder in Azadir. We can say he has been quite literally reincarnated (or simply resurrected) because his voice and personality is pretty much the same in the epilogue. He’s just incredibly older. Wherever Saga went, and whatever she did, perhaps it had an impact on Crow’s very nature—although being a magical bird to begin with, it’s likely he already had some specific properties. Or, the devs just really like Crow and there’s no real explanation behind his level of involvement. But personally, I’ll stick to my theory.
And that is all for now. In short, Dreamfall Chapters draws both from science and mythology and remixes that knowledge to deliver a highly metaphysical message, all wrapped up in a corporate, dystopian future. Hopefully, this guide has shed some light on the many mysteries of the game—I recommend either reading this guide right before or after playing Dreamfall Chapters so that all the information can be fresh in your mind.
“The study of fiction is the study of reality.”
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