Adventure games have been making a big comeback in the past couple of years thanks to titles like The Walking Dead, Heavy Rain and L.A. Noire. Most of this revival has stemmed from games that take themselves seriously and focus on emotional storylines. Enter D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die by notable writer/director Hidetaka Suehiro. More commonly known as Swery65 he brings the same wackiness that people loved from Deadly Premonition.
D4 definitely fits well into the adventure genre but it immediately stands out due to it’s overflowing amount of style and oddity. Main character David Young is a private investigator who is working to solve his wife’s murder. The traumatic incident left him with a bullet wound in his head, memory loss and the inexplicable ability to travel back in time. It all seems related to a new drug on the market called Real Blood which has been the result of numerous gruesome deaths, including David’s wife.
With no memory of the incident, the only clue David has to go on is his wife’s final words, “Look for D.” With his mistrust of anyone with a name beginning in D and his special powers, he is hoping to find out what exactly happened to his wife and bring the killer to justice.
This sounds like a unique but fairly straightforward story. However, D4 is certainly anything but straightforward. The characters you run into are spectacularly bizarre. You have a roommate, Amanda, who’s introduction includes running around the house wild and spitting a dead mouse into your mouth. Your old cop partner Forrest constantly gorges himself on food in ridiculously large portions. There’s a flight attendant obsessed with airplane trivia, a fashion designer with a mannequin companion and a giant, creepy man who brandishes a fork and knife at all times.
It’s these wacky characters that give D4 such life. Voice acting is suitably over the top and your interaction with each character usually results in some type of weird mini-game that makes little sense in the context of the game but is fun nevertheless. The graphics of the game are similar to Telltale’s efforts with cel-shaded, comic book style that works well.
Gameplay is pretty straightforward for an adventure game. You have a setting to explore and find clues and many items can be interacted with, either through grabbing or pushing them. In a unique choice, D4 can be played with either a controller or completely with Kinect. While you may naturally be inclined to go with a controller, I actually think much of D4 works best with Kinect controls. This is especially true in the many QTE action scenes in the game, where the use of Kinect shines. True, it’s not always perfect but the crazy things that D4 has you do via Kinect is easily the most fun part of the game.
Kinect doesn’t work nearly as well for the rest of the game, such as navigating environments and selecting conversation choices. But it worked well enough that I never felt the need to switch to a controller. You can obviously play the entire game with a controller but I think something will be missing, especially in the QTE sections. What other game has you attack an enemy with a loudspeaker by literally making you yell at your TV?
The only real downside to the game is how the actual investigation is communicated to the character. In each episode there is a main mystery to solve, requiring you to collect clues. The game leaves it to the player to put the clues together and find the connection themselves, with practically no help from the game. Once you find all clues the game stops and explains what has really been going on, but it feels more like you’re being told what happened less than figuring it out for yourself.
This initial section is only part of the story, which consists of a prologue and two episodes. It offers enough mystery and character to suck you in and ends on a major cliffhanger that will have you begging for more. It takes about four hours to complete but there are plenty of collectibles to find and side-missions that will give you reasons to revisit. Plus a second playthrough offers better insight to the clues and connections that likely went overlooked during the first time through.
D4 is a very bizarre game that is likely only made for a certain set of people who enjoy off the wall experiences like Deadly Premonition or Lollipop Chainsaw. Not to say that you can’t enjoy it if it’s not your style, just be prepared for what you’re getting yourself into. It also brings the rare example of Kinect integration done correctly, for the most part. However you choose to play it, you’ll be in for a fun ride.
SCORE: 8.5 out of 10
A code of D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die was provided to Pixel Related for review.