Japanese games are rarely exclusive to Microsoft consoles following the dismal failure both the Xbox 360 and, so far, the Xbox One have had in the Asian market. Simply put, the numbers aren’t there to fully support the Japanese wackiness that western audiences tend to avoid (outside of the Final Fantasy series).
So, when Microsoft announced D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die would be exclusive to the Xbox One and would come from the minds behind the controversially bonkers Deadly Premonition, many of us were left scratching our heads. Why doesn’t Microsoft just give up already? Do they have anything to gain from doing this?
Then, at TGS 2014, it was announced that D4 was released starting immediately and it became clear that everything about Xbox in Japan was weird.
D4 presents itself as episodic, and, so far, all that’s been released is “Season One” which consists of a prologue and two episodes. The developers have clearly taken a page out of The Walking Dead: The Game‘s book by offering little traditional gameplay and more interactive cutscenes. The difference between D4 and The Walking Dead is that D4 fails on all fronts to create any compelling reason to continue playing. You’re faced with quasi-puzzles that require very little in the way of problem solving, but more patience as you get through tedious amounts of senseless dialogue.
And if that didn’t sound enough like damnation for D4, the dialogue is not only poorly written but incredibly poorly acted. One might excuse such short comings for it’s obvious anime influence, but I can’t do that. Yes, this is fairly common in games from Japan, but does that excuse the fact that it’s bad? No, and in this case, it’s especially egregious as the game’s entire foundation is built upon storytelling, dialogue, and acting.
The main character, Derek, (Correction: The character’s name is David. Not that it matters. The game still sucks) has some strange ability to travel through time by focusing on special objects he calls mementos. He uses this throughout the game to solve the murder of his wife, who he, for whatever reason, refers to “Little Peggy.” The game is full of weird, borderline cringey, little tidbits like this. He has a cat called Amanda, or at least I think it’s his cat? It’s really a scantily clad woman who meows and carries a dead mouse around in her mouth and pounces on Derek when he opens the door inciting a general reaction of WHAT THE F*CK?! And then there’s this character with a glass eye that gets knocked out. Oh, and a green-haired fashion designer who is seemingly in love with a mannequin.
The stupidity is relentless and got to the point where I just had to put my controller down, get up, and try to make sense of everything. D4: Dark Dreams… whatever… it’s not for everyone, and that’s pretty obvious from the outset and from any trailers. Unfortunately, this game just isn’t for this critic. In fact, I can wholeheartedly say I hated D4. I hated it.
In almost any bad game, I can find even one redeeming factor, but with this… I can’t. There was honestly nothing there for me. It’s a boring game that focuses entirely on story, and I’m not the type of person to call games like Gone Home, The Walking Dead, or The Wolf Among Us non-games. I love those games. But they built a solid story, with interesting characters that were easy to relate to, and they never made me fall asleep. I literally had to fight myself to keep awake. At 4 in the afternoon.
If that’s not evidence enough for a boring game, I don’t know what is.
Editor’s Note: After much consideration, I have decided that perhaps my original review score of 0 Stars was simply unfair. I’ve spoken with my colleagues and we’ve come to the conclusion that 0/5 suggests that there is something fundamentally wrong with the game (i.e. it doesn’t run properly). That is not the case. D4 runs without any serious issue. I have changed the score to a 1/5 to reflect this. My opinion of the game has not changed. I still feel that it is a very poorly designed game and that you’d have more fun running bamboo under your fingernails.