GAME NAME: D4 (Dark Dreams Don’t Die)
DEVELOPER(S): Access Games
PLATFORM(S): Xbox One
RELEASE DATE(S): September 19th, 2014
I expected a very odd and confusing experience to be the outcome of Hidetaka Suehiro’s (Swery) newest game D4 and I was 100% correct. Swery was also responsible for Deadly Premonition, which has gained praise for the odd presentation and nature that it held. Dark Dreams Don’t Die also known as D4 is a crazy hard to follow insane trip of fun that keeps you on your toes. Access Games has made this title episodic and will release multiple seasons, similar to the TellTale type games. This game focuses around a character named David Young, who is a private investigator and his wife has been murdered. The events have left David traumatized along with his memories missing from her death and has also given him the ability to go back in time. Unfortunately you can’t go back in time whenever you want, although it fits the story with only being able to travel upon obtaining certain items called mementos. Upon your search for who murdered her you are constantly seeking out people with names starting the letter “D”, since that was the last clue your wife left you. There are also a huge amount of off the wall characters that you will come across, such as your roommate Amanda, who acts and believes that she is a cat with even going as far as carrying a dead rat in her mouth or hissing at you.
D4 has a very strange appeal at first with showing clips of your wife and of you falling into a bathtub with no idea what’s going on. You take control in the bathroom to inspect objects to create clues or ideas of what you need to do. This game is not necessarily on rails, but it has a pathway that you have to navigate and can’t free roam off of. When you investigate everywhere, eventually from the story’s progression David will acquire a memento that will allow him to travel back in time to change the outcome of his wife’s death. David can only travel back in time by going into the bathroom, which is odd but it has a reason behind it and I’ll leave that spoiler free. You can either use the Kinect to control this game or use a normal Xbox One controller for those who bought the non-Kinect bundled system. The Kinect actually works really well with this title and surprised me since most games are clunky and horribly coded, but D4 uses the voice interaction and hand movements very smoothly. When you have conversations with people you have multiple things to choose from and you just say the whole sentence with Kinect or select it with a controller. Moving around and inspecting areas or objects is simple with the Kinect by just moving your hand around to grab or push them to use and get information about them. Using a controller all you have to do is move the cursor around with the analog stick and select items to push or grab with “A”. There are sudden action events that will happen from time to time and will have you moving your hands in certain motion areas to dodge or react to a situation, but with the controller you will use the analog sticks along with the right and left triggers to accomplish the events.
When you score well on those events you have a Synchro rate to try and keep it at 100% for maximum points. You also have a health bar if you get hit that can drop down and a stamina bar that needs to be monitored as well. While you explore areas you also use up stamina, which can be replenished by eating food found in the worlds or by purchasing some from your roommate or a cat within the “Dive”. The “Dive” is the event of going back in time and you can go back and forth from reality to the past if needed, just in case you have other clues that you forgot to research from the present. There are three episodes within this first season with one of them being the prologue and it takes roughly around 3-4 hours to complete and possibly longer if you want to achieve all the achievements. After each episode there will be a score card to represent the score or Synchro rate you have gained and collectibles you have found before going onto the next one.
The graphics are a very simple cel-shaded design that goes well with the hard to follow concept behind D4. The animations are presented nicely, especially during the action events where you are trying to avoid or react the the situations. The voice acting is nicely done and each voice compliments their character to create a believable performance. There is music that is played at times, but rarely noticed because you are more focused on what is going on and more so if you are using the Kinect to interact with the scenes.
Swery has made another odd game and this one is better than his last. D4 is definitely not a casual gamer’s game and won’t sit well with anyone who doesn’t have an open mind but overall is a very unique experience. The Kinect features are really good and definitely worth using if you own a Kinect, but the game is still stands strong if you don’t have a Kinect. The stamina bar got to me quite a bit and caused me to get annoyed a little with constantly having to buy or find food just so I can continue exploring, although it isn’t a game killer and was still bearable. The story is a bit hard to follow, but that isn’t to say this game doesn’t have a good one. I enjoyed this first season of D4(Dark Dreams Don’t Die) and I can’t wait to check out the rest of the story once it hits the Xbox One Store.