Overall - 80%
D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die will likely be the most unique title you'll play this year. Playing on the serialized format of episodic games, it weaves a tale that hits all the right notes while still being its own unique beast. If you're looking for something out of the ordinary, you most certainly have found it.
Hidetaka “SWERY” Suehiro, hot on the heels of the off-kilter horror game Deadly Premonition, is back once again with his murder mystery title D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die for the PC. Should you dive into this episodic epic, or is this one investigation not worth pursuing?
D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die Review
There are some games out there that pander to a specific audience, not taking many creative liberties in order to please the general audience.
D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die isn’t one of those games.
One just need look at the plot synopsis to see that something is off. Private investigator David Young is on the hunt for his wife Peggy Young’s murderer, and will stop at nothing to find the killer known only as D. Sounds normal, right? However, he must do this by grabbing mementos and “diving” into the past, reliving moments in different locales and scenarios. Keeping company with a girl that thinks she’s a cat and a police officer that can down five hotdogs at a time, Mr. Young pushes and profiles slow-talking surgeons, avant-garde fashion models, and schizophrenic women on his search for the truth. It sometimes feels like it’s weird for the sake of being weird, but it is a breath of fresh air that is quirky as it is original.
D4’s originality also extends to its unique control scheme. Originally designed around the Xbox One’s motion-driven Kinect, gameplay is controlled by guiding Mr. Young around with motion cues delivered via a mouse or a controller. Rather than actively moving around with an analog stick, movements are done with a cursor on the screen and clicking at certain areas, a la a real-time strategy game. This setup would be absolutely horrendous in an action-heavy game, but it fits its setting quite well. Aside from needless complex and repetitive moments like opening doors or flipping pages, the control scheme is sound.
That’s not to say that D4 is devoid of action. Mr. Young faces some intense moments during his investigation, requiring him to use his quick wits and his fists to conquer the situation. These sequences are done via quick-time event prompts, ranging from moving a specific direction to mashing a button. Game overs are possible in D4, but the penalty is minimal. Though quick-time events are much maligned in the industry, the way they are framed in D4 are done tastefully, and allow the player to do something that would normally be impossible to do in-game.
When this action slows down, D4 adopts a lot of the traits found in episodic games like TellTale’s The Walking Dead and Square-Enix’s Life is Strange. Mr. Young must interact with the environment, finding key pieces of evidence and talking with the right people about the right things. Dialog options are available, but everybody will arrive at the same destination. There are also sidequests available, ones that require players to find the capital of Brazil and wear a hip piece of clothing. While all of these things are unique and welcome, they chomp away at a stamina meter that must be refilled every couple of minutes. It’s a real hassle to spend a few extra minutes finding some food to refuel — it just feels unnecessary.
D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die will likely be the most unique title you’ll play this year. Playing on the serialized format of episodic games, it weaves a tale that hits all the right notes while still being its own unique beast. If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, you most certainly have found it.