Deadly Premonition director Swery65 is back with the episodic Xbox One exclusive D4 – Dark Dreams Don’t Die. Is the Japanese maverick on to another winner? Find out in Dave Green’s review, Zach…
At its time of release, Deadly Premonition was either a complete shambles (hi, IGN!) or a diamond-in-the-rough masterpiece, depending on which review you read. Time has been kind to Swery65’s homage to Twin Peaks; a special-edition release saw those who wrote it off the first time (hi again, IGN!) doing an about-face and re-evaluating Access Games complex, genre-mixing, bizarro creation and seeing it for the classic it was and still is. Madcap and utterly surreal, Deadly Premonition was also oddly affecting, with a superb sense of place with endearing, and interesting, characters. We’ve wrote about it at length. Now, with Microsoft money behind him, Swery is back with D4 – Dark Dreams Don’t Die and, thankfully, his signature style intact.
First of all, from a purely mechanical point of view, D4 is head and shoulders above the sometimes clunky Deadly Premonition. Controls, with either the pad or Kinect (which is utilised extremely well) are smooth and well-thought out. The style of play no doubt helps – D4 feels like a David Cage game, only with character, a sense of fun and self-depreciation and writing that actually does help you connect with what’s going on on screen. It looks great too – Access Games make great use of the comic-book like graphics throughout, with eye-popping visual effects, screen wipes and animations throughout. It’s altogether a more polished experience; no doubt due to those extra funds afforded Swery – and the experience of shipping Deadly Premonition and the feedback from its legion of fans.
Concerned that the polish as made D4 lose that Swery charm? Don’t be. D4 is every bit as colourful as Deadly Premonition – only much tighter and focused. You see, while DP was sprawling and open-world (in fact, many gamers didn’t realise you could visit the cast as they went about their daily lives and help them with missions and tasks to improve things like car and weapon handling!), D4’s opening salvo takes place in just 2 locations – protagonist David Young’s house and mid-flight aboard a plane. While this does sound constrained, there are 11 major characters that you can interact with in some way, and each have a number of side-quests and missions to carry out which help colour the already larger-than-life characters and the world the story takes place in.
You may have noticed I used the term “opening salvo” and “episodic” up above; D4 is just the start of David Young’s continuing investigations into the death of his beloved wife, Little Peggy. D4 Season One takes place two years after the murder of Little Peggy and includes a prologue and the first two episodes of the adventure, clocking in at around 8 hours on first play through. There’s plenty of reason for going back and playing again too – it’s some value for £12.99/€14.99
In fact, I couldn’t recommend D4 enough – it’s already one of my favourite next-generation games, with its intriguing story (which I really don’t want to spoil!), brilliant cast of characters, plethora of customization (clothes, beards and, of course, foods), Deadly Premonition-like soundtrack and, if you’re a Kinect player, at last a game that isn’t dance or sports orientated that actually utilises the accessory well.
If you’re already and Xbox One owner, download it and explore it – it’s excellent with or without Kinect. For those fans of Swery that don’t have an Xbox One yet – consider getting one. With a further 3 seasons planned (hopefully not depending on the so far lacklustre sales) there’s plenty more of Swery65 to come on Microsoft’s machine – a unique and dazzling voice and one that deserves to be heard and, now with a decent budget, the man’s imagination is his only limit. I’m excited to see where D4 goes next.
9/10 – Dave Green