D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die Review

20160312112351_1“Electric Nigma! Electric Nigma!”  Um, actually I go by Natalie now.  “Whatever! Why are you reviewing D4 now?  Haven’t you owned it for almost a year now?”  Yes, I have owned it for several months. I did not review it because I was afraid I would not like it after playing it for 20 minutes.  “But didn’t you adore Deadly Premonition?”  I still do, but that’s not how enjoying things works.  If you are a good girl, I’ll tell you why in the form of a review.  “Natalie! Natalie!”  What?  “Do you feel like an insignificant creature who will never accomplish anything of worth in their sad little life?”  …I’m glad I’m killing you off.

D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die Review
Platform: PC(Reviewed), XBO
Developers: Access Games
Publisher: Playism
Specifications: Intel i7-4790, 16GB of RAM, R9 390, Windows 10

Dark Dreams Don’t Die centers around David Young, a detective who is haunted by the mysterious circumstances surrounding his wife’s death.  And for reasons unknown to him, can also travel back in time by using various knickknacks and doohickeys.  This very premise could lead way to many interesting scenarios, but unfortunately, you can only fairly judge a story based on what’s there, and there truly is not a lot featured in this first season.  Well, at least in regards to main story content.  20160309181845_1

There are many hints and nods at a far larger plot, but the bulk of the story involves David wandering around an airplane trying to figure out what is going on and uncover who the mysterious “D” his wife asked him to look for.  A plot element that’s actually revealed, albeit in one of the most haphazard ways possible before the story ends on a cliffhanger that, 1.5 years after its release, we have not heard a word of.  

What’s there is compelling enough to captivate one’s attention, with a good deal of mystery interlaced in an eccentric and almost uncanny world filled with characters I would describe as inhuman in the most endearing way possible.  It’s what makes the dozens of side quests interspersed in the story all the more appealing.  Or at least the few that I discovered, because for as much as I enjoy what D4 has to offer, I did not have a great tie when it came to actually playing the game.20160309183131_1

For all intensive purposes, D4 is a point and click adventure game.  You direct David about a variety of roms, a total of… eleven if you count bathrooms and search the scenery for intractable goodies while your stamina constantly drains.  However, whereas most games of that genre are not abundant with side content, D4 has boatloads, and it’s pretty great for the most part.  From the letters that develop the relationship between David and his wife to the surreal side quests, to the random nonsense Swery read about and put in this game because he thought it was cool.20160309181805_1

But in order to find anything, you will need to drag your feet, check many things several times, and likely need some sort of checklist in order to find the… 500+ interactables scattered throughout three chapters.  With a number that high, things naturally become wrapped with tedium after some time, and the process is slow enough without the regular quick time event.  Most of them involve a swipe of the control stick or mouse, and none of them really add much to the experience.

At least aside from the stunt scenes, where the player needs to perform a series of logical QTEs as an absurd and very well choreographed action scene plays out.  An action scene that can be difficult to appreciate due to its fast pace, large scale, and the fact that D4 grades you on how quickly you react to every QTE.  20160309184207_1

I want to say that the game looks great at the very least, and it does most of the time.  D4 looks like a fully three dimensional comic book with its shading, often vibrant color palette, and the black outlines around every object.  Yet, those very same black lines are tempermental little things, as is the shading applied to most character’s skin.  The black outlines look out of place when viewing a distant background, and the shading is not kept smooth throughout everyone’s face, resulting in large swathes of color.  That said, this is a very minor gripe, and both the characters and environment can look excellent when these problems are either glossed over or expressed subtly, as is the case for the majority of the experience.2015-12-28_00024

As is the case with every game I play, part of me wants to love it and see it as a paragon of excellence in the medium.  That’s the subtle hope I have for just about every single game I play.  D4 is a particularly disheartening case for me, as I truly did find its cast of characters and general storyline to be engaging in a manner unique to the game’s director.  Yet everything surrounding that from the overall gameplay, the attempt at episodic content, and even some of the technology left a sour taste in my mouth.  A taste I honestly don’t want to lick again.  “That sounds really stupid, Natalie!”  Shut up!  You’re not even a person, what do you know about anything?20160311212019_1

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