D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die Review
Extra Features: Leaderboards
D4 (Dark Dreams Don't Die) is an episodic thriller developed by Access Games exclusively for the Xbox One. If you're a fan of Hidetaka Suehiro (also known as "Swery65") then you'll be pleased to know that he serves as the director for D4 and it shows all too well. Deadly Premonition was the first game I ever played that had his signature style and it had the most outrageous overall story I have seen for a game, and that seems to be the way that D4 is from the first few episodes in the current pack. D4 Season 1 includes the prologue and the first two episodes of the game.
D4 plays much like Telltale's Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us series. You are free to explore certain areas and can interact with people and objects for extra story. The player takes control of David Young, a private investigator whose wife has been murdered. The traumatic murder has caused David to be unable to recollect the memories surrounding his wife's death but has left him with the unique ability to time travel. He uses this ability to travel through time in an attempt to undo the murder of his wife. In order to travel through time, David has to find some sort of object (memento) that allows him to travel to certain areas in the past.
D4 is presented with cel-shaded graphics, much like a graphic novel. The characters all have some very unique looks to them. I have to give props to the team in charge of the music since the game has some very atmospheric tunes at times that really got me into the mood. Characters often have their own theme song that will play when the character appears. The music quality is much better than that of Deadly Premonition - even though that game had its moments with good tunes also.
The game starts out in David's apartment building where you can walk around and talk to his friends Forrest Kaysen and Amanda. If you're played Deadly Premonition or Spy Fiction then you'll likely remember Swery's Kaysen character that he seems to always include. Amanda is a sort of... cat lady, or something like that...? After a while, David will have the option of going to his bathroom and using his unique power to time travel. Time traveling allows the player to return to a past location and question the people in that area as well as search it over for clues. David can switch forth between the past and present areas by choosing to "dive" from the pause menu. The characters in both the apartment and especially in time traveling areas are truly bizarre. Character personalities in this game are completely outrageous. The characters often come across as fun, but sometimes the personality would start to wear on me and make the whole experience more annoying than entertaining.
A hand cursor is used to interact with objects. The hand can be moved with either a controller or the Kinect camera and you can easily switch between either of them during gameplay by pressing and holding a button or putting your hand on top of your head. David can pick up items and he can also push objects by using the hand cursor. You can actually push characters to get some funny responses. The game has at least one QTE (Quick Time Event) sequence per chapter. David will get involved in some sort of struggle with another character and you will have to perform directional and button taps as the action slows down in order to make it through the sequence. The QTEs are never annoying or overdone thankfully. There are a few QTEs during normal gameplay, such as opening a door by holding the left analog a certain way or by pressing a button to interact with an object.
The only way to fail a mission is to run out of stamina or get hit too many times during a QTE sequence. David has a stamina gauge, a vision gauge and a health bar. Each gauge can be replenished by finding food, washing your face or using bandage items located in the environment. There is always a cat or other animal (including Amanda) that David can buy items from to replenish each gauge as well - yeah, you read that right, a cat! David uses up stamina with each object that he interacts with - talking and interacting with objects (such as opening doors) will deplete his current stamina. David can gain credits by picking up medals or by performing certain interactions that will give him bonus credits. Credits are used to buy items for recovery.
Besides main objectives, each character usually has a side quest for David. Most of the side quests are fetch and retrieve missions where David must find some sort of object or actually dive back into the present (his apartment) and get an object then bring it back to the past. Some of the side missions are some small mini games also. Many of the characters offer multiple side quests for David. I tried to do all side quests and listen to every piece of dialogue and interact with everything that I saw per episode and both of the episodes lasted me a little over two hours each, so you're looking at about five hours of gameplay total, including the prologue if you do everything. There is still a good bit of stuff that I missed on my first play-through. David can be customized with different clothing, hairstyles and facial hair all of which can be either unlocked or bought.
Players with open minds and players that are fans of Swery65's bizarre characters and story will get the most out of D4. This first season basically ends at a cliffhanger, but the series definitely shows promise. If you're looking for a game with a straightforward story and characters then D4 is not for you. D4 seems to have some deep meaning to characters and some situations (much like Deadly Premonition had in it) that will be revealed in later episodes. Speaking of Deadly Premonition, fans of that game will greatly appreciate the many references that were brought over into D4.
+ Many possible interactions during gameplay
+ Fun (and bizarre) characters and interesting story
+ There are several extra quests offered by characters
- The story (mainly the characters) can get a bit too weird at times to keep my interest
Final Rating: 80%. Fans of Swery65 and Deadly Premonition will be in heaven while playing D4 since Swery's outrageous story and characters are even more outrageous this time.