Hidetaka Suehiro, or Swery65 as he’s better known in the video game industry, can be described as something along the lines of an auteur game director. He’s best known for bringing us Deadly Premonition, one of the most twisted yet also one of the most outlandish murder mysteries I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Isn’t that right, Zach? When Swery announced D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die I jumped in fully expecting a gripping story filled with crazy characters and was not disappointed.
Let’s back up a little. D4 tells the story of a Bostonian detective David Young who’s investigating the murder of his wife, Little Peggy. Here’s the twist: David himself was present during Peggy’s murder but he can’t recall anything from the incident. The only things he does remember are his wife’s last words: “Look for D.” David also acquires the ability to dive into the past by touching certain objects called “mementos” and he uses this ability in an attempt to change the past and possibly find a way to save his wife. Obsessed with the thought of saving Little Peggy, David retires from the police force and now works as a private detective pouring all his resources into looking for D.
D4’s gameplay is extremely minimal in that you simply move David around the environments and you click on various things to investigate them. This point-and-click style of gameplay comes with a slight twist, however; David has a stamina bar that depletes each time you examine an item. If the bar is emptied, David collapses and it’s game over for you. This could pose some frustration for people who feel compelled to examine every little thing in the environment though this problem can be easily remedied by consuming food you find lying around the place or by purchasing them from Amanda the cat lady.
David also has a vision mode that, when activated, highlights the environmental objects that are examinable. You’ve also got a life bar and, believe it or not, you can take damage in this point-and-click adventure. Action comes in the form of quick-time events where you’ll have to push the analog sticks in various directions and tap the face buttons. The action sequences are over the top and players will recognize Swery’s distinctive humor when an antagonist pauses mid-fight to pitch a baseball at David, who then knocks it out of the park with a mannequin leg.
In-game currency comes in the form of credits that you can accumulate by finding medals strewn around the place. David can also gain credits if you hover your handprint cursor over certain objects or people and push them repeatedly. The act of shoving people around with your little hand cursor and watching them shout in frustration is downright comedic and also oddly satisfying at the same time when you see your credits counter go up. Credits can be spent on food items to recover your stamina or on various outfits for David, which can provide stat boosts for your life and stamina gauges.
Season 1 of D4, which consists of a prologue chapter and two episodes, has David dive into the past in search of an informant who might have some clue with regards to D’s identity. Again, there’s a twist; the informant mysteriously vanishes from the plane when it is struck by lightning. It is then up to David to solve the mystery of the missing informant and possibly dig up more clues to bring him closer to uncovering D’s identity.