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TGS: D4, Xbox One's Weirdest Game
D4 is exactly the kind of bizarre experiment that you'd hope to find at Tokyo Game Show.
Not unexpectedly, considering that it’s being made by the same man who brought Deadly Premonition into the world, D4 is absolutely nuts. Standing for Dark Dreams Don’t Die, it’s an episodic adventure game by Access Games and Hidetaka Suehiro – Swery, to his friends. It’s an Xbox One exclusive that sits rather awkwardly next to all the other games announced from the platform, almost all of which are Western and, well, not clearly insane.
D4 stars a very pretty detective called David, who can dive into and relive the past by touching people’s mementoes. This, as you might imagine, makes him a pretty damned good detective. His appearance is very different from Swery’s other hero, Agent Francis York Morgan – instead of close-cropped hair, a far-off gaze and a 🤬 scar, he’s got shoulder-length, lustrous-looking brown hair, a cute beard and and eyes of different colours, David Bowie-style. But he does seem to share some odd mannerisms like the contemplative chin-stroke and habitual self-talk, with a bubblegum-chewing habit in place of York’s fondness for a cigarette.
It’s designed for Kinect, but supports a controller instead if you’re averse to Xbox’s all-seeing eye. Like a point and click adventure, you touch things on the screen to interact with them, often prompting a bizarre monologue from David. Actions like washing David’s face and eating pretzels invite an imitative gesture, as do the QTE fight sequences, and you can use your voice to select dialogue options in cutscenes. It’s a bit like Heavy Rain meets Deadly Premonition, in a cel-shaded art style, except mad. I think it’s probably best if I just explain what happened in the Tokyo Game Show demo, and you can draw your own conclusions from there.
It began in the bathroom of a plane, where David talked to himself about the case for a while whilst staring at himself in the mirror (D4 is ultimately about him trying to solve the case of his dead wife and travel back to an alternate timeline where they can be together again. Obviously.) On his way out of the airport bathroom, he bumps into an air hostess who reminds him of his wife, after which both of them end up on the floor. She then alternates between justified suspicion and inexplicable flirtiness, before David turns his attention to the other passengers in the cabin. One of them is a bald, scarred FBI marshal handcuffed to a “dangerous criminal” called Antonio Zabotero (this is not elaborated upon). Then a super-camp fashion designer with hair like a green Mr Whippy turns up, accompanied by a mannequin dressed just like him whom he believed to be his partner, which I think was called Soup.
At this point the “dangerous criminal” bursts out of the plane bathroom and stamps the FBI marshal to death whilst screaming threats, prompting a ridiculous and extended QTE fight scene between him and David. A female passenger runs across the cabin in fright, and David pirouettes with her a few times before sitting her down in a seat and resuming his ridiculous fight. Soon he smashes Soup the mannequin, who is loudly mourned by her companion, and picks up the dismembered leg, which he then uses to bat Antonio’s glass eye (he has a glass eye) back at him when he throws it down the aisle. The battle concludes as David and Antonio simultaneously kick each other in the nuts.
“As you can see, both the nuts were damaged,” says Swery’s translator, after a few moments of stunned silence.
It was, to borrow a phrase I’ve applied to Deadly Premonition before, entrancingly bizarre. I’m sure a lot of people will be pleased to learn that Kinect is entirely optional, but the gesture and voice controls add a whole new level of weirdness that it’d be a shame to miss out on. It won't quite make the Xbox One launch, but we can expect the first episode shortly afterwards.
D4 is exactly the kind of bizarre experimental thing that used to fill up the space at Tokyo Game Show left between the gigantic publishers and their franchise juggernauts, and the reams of no-budget smartphone and browser games. It’s representative of a kind of console game that’s been in danger of extinction for years now, and that has largely disappeared over the course of the last generation. However good (or not) it turns out to be in the end, I’m just delighted that it’s getting made.
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