Night mode

D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die Review

D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die Review

An eclectic mix of gaming and passive entertainment.


Written by on

Developed by

Published by


Genre: Adventure/Action
Release date: June 5, 2015

‘This is the story of a man with a very strange fate…’

And so begins D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die. The basic premise is hardly original – David Young’s wife has been murdered and his memory is broken. The police have been unable to solve the case so he embarks on a personal quest to find his wife’s killer, with her last cryptic words, “Look for D,” his only clue. While most tales like this are driven merely by the protagonist’s thirst for revenge, D4 takes an unexpected turn with the addition of a strange talent – David has the ability to move between the past and the present. When it comes to his conviction that he can change the past he’s like The Little Train That Could. Driven by grief and obsession, he dives through time intent on preventing the murder from ever occurring. 

The game is episodic and the June 5th release is broken into three distinct segments. The Prologue provides the back story of David Young’s predicament and gives the player a chance to get comfortable with the interface. Episode 1 launches him into the past and is focused on character development and fact-finding. Episode 2 returns David to the present and then launches him back into the same past. This last segment has fewer characters, less story, and feels more like an escape game.

D4 is an eclectic mix of gaming and passive entertainment. Half of your time is spent observing animated sequences and clicking through character dialog. The other half is interactive and is best described as a hidden object search with action elements and a few in-game puzzles. Throw in a wardrobe closet for David and friends, a scrapbook of seemingly unrelated magazine articles, and several non sequitur side-cases, and you have D4.

Whether or not these pieces actually fit together is irrelevant because the result is a delightfully entertaining experience. D4 has the feel of a classic comic book coming wildly alive. The visuals are an example of what is possible when twisted creativity and artistic talent come together. The characters are so diverse and bizarre that I found myself shaking my head and laughing out loud. Both the voice acting and the music score are perfectly synchronized to enhance each character and scene. I lost myself in this game as I put on my “serious” headphones, turned the volume up, and took a mini-vacation from my life.

Toto, We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

The D4 game world is fairly small. The present takes place in David’s apartment and the past takes place on a commercial airliner. He moves into the past using ‘memento’ objects and returns to the present when he’s knocked senseless.

In the present, David is accompanied by his sidekick Forrest Kaysen, a Boston Police Detective, and Amanda, a feline wannabe. When traveling to the past, he encounters airline passengers that include a U.S. Marshall, a drug courier, flight attendants, a fashion designer and a doctor. These characters are best experienced by playing the game. They are too offbeat to do them justice with a handful of adjectives.

David’s dead wife, Little Peggy, is constantly present in both the past and the present and is revealed through his memories and flashbacks. She adds historical context to the story and deepens the emotional content of David’s character.

So, What’s Not To Like?

When I started playing D4, my biggest challenge was to figure out how it worked. Although ‘user guides’ are rare, this is a title that would be enhanced by a few pages of instruction. D4 takes a minimalist approach and opens with a single screen stating that ‘a 3-button mouse or controller is required.’  Soon, it becomes clear that a bit more knowledge is needed to survive your first encounter with Amanda. She claws, bites, and meows (albeit less elegantly than traditional cat people such as Nastassia Kinski and Michelle Pfeiffer) and ‘learning on the fly’ put me at an immediate disadvantage.

A tutorial mode is available but this does little to bridge the gap. At several points in the game, I had no idea what to do. When this occurred in a timed sequence, I was forced to repeat the section until I stumbled on the appropriate response. Even when I knew what to do, the action elements initially tested my ability to wield a mouse with speed and accuracy. D4 survival requires “synchronicity.”  This is the art of matching on-screen patterns with mouse clicks, drags, and drops. At times it feels as though D4 is perfectly designed for the touch screen but, alas, that device is not fully supported.

At one point, I wanted to quit and replay D4 from the beginning. I was a bit disappointed to find that I could not restart a game segment (prologue or episode) until I had completed it at least once.

Because D4 is structured like a television series with a pilot and two episodes, each segment includes cast introductions and game credits. Episodes 1 and 2 begin by repeating major story elements to “catch up” the viewer who is “joining late.”  But, as gamers, we are not watching TV. Since we are playing segments in a forced order, there is no need to catch us up or to repeat the cast and credit sequences. At these points, I found myself wishing for a ‘fast forward’ option.

When All is Said and Done

I’m an adventure gamer who is often combat-challenged. I was relieved to find that my lack of action skills was not a deterrent in D4. You have levels of stamina, vision, and life that must be managed by consuming items that you find or purchase. This is never a hardship because points are constantly adding up, supplies are abundant, and the in-game store is always open.

The adventure elements of D4 are limited to “finding.” There is no inventory to manage and no decisions as to “using” items. With the exception of designated “clues,” most hotspots are optional so the incurious gamer can play with impunity. It should also be noted that a “Vision” option is provided in lieu of hints for those who prefer to avoid discovery altogether.

Although it isn’t obvious that scores are being tallied along the way, your results (or lack thereof) are revealed at the end of each episode. I was feeling pretty good about myself until D4 told me otherwise! Evidently, I’m a dismal player who’s unable to wield a mouse with grace. This, coupled with the fact that I missed a significant number of optional discovery items, implied that I needed to replay the episode to prove my worth as “real gamer.”  I dismissed this out-of-hand, as I don’t believe that my own demonstration of added dexterity and increased powers of observation will help David Young find his wife’s killer.

Perhaps my improved synchronicity skills can be put to good use when (and if) Access Games releases a D4 Episode 3. The cliffhanger ending of Episode 2 leaves David Young with his wife’s murder unsolved and opens new possibilities for his investigation. It suggests that the fun will continue with at least one new kick-ass character. If I keep practicing with my mouse, I just might be ready for him!.

Grade: B
D4 is pure entertainment, a really fun game
Can be enjoyed by the adventure gamer who typically avoids “action” 
Can also be enjoyed by the casual action gamer who abhors “find and use”
– Passive “TV-like” segments, combined with long load times, may make some feel more like a couch potato than a gamer.
– Don’t expect closure. D4 Departs with the Dreaded Disclaimer of “To Be ContinueD

System Requirements
OS: Windows 7 64-bit edition or Windows 8 64-bit edition
Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 @ 2.83GHZ or an equivalent AMD CPU
Memory: 6 GB RAM
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470 or AMD Radeon HD 6870 (VRAM 1GB)
DirectX: Version 11
Hard Drive: 10 GB available space
Sound Card: A DirectX 11 compatible card
Addional Notes: Keyboard and mouse necessary. Compatible with XInput controllers such as the Xbox 360 controller. Display: 1280×720

Cindy Kyser

Cindy Kyser

Cindy’s love affair with gaming began when she opened a mailbox in front of a white house and took the first step in a long series of adventures. ‘Back in the day,’ Cindy was a regular contributor to JA and an active member of the online gaming community. She has attended several E3s and has had the pleasure of spending time in person with both Ray and Randy. Her all- time favorite adventures include the Tex Murphy series, the Gabriel Knight series, and The Longest Journey. She also enjoys RPGs and her list of ‘best ever’ includes Fallout, Asheron’s Call, and Planescape Torment. Â Frustrated with the cost of rising PC system requirements, Cindy decided to switch to console and tablet gaming. Although you can teach some old dogs new tricks, she discovered that console controller dexterity is a skill set that she is lacking. Her results with tablet gaming were not much better. With the exception of a few gems such as The Room and Forever Lost, there is a limit to how much one can play Candy Crush and Hidden Object Adventures. Having proved that pure escapism is worth the investment, she has a new gaming laptop and is back to her search for the perfect adventure. Â After spending most of her life in Los Angeles and Atlanta, Cindy escaped the stress of urban life and moved to rural Arkansas. To show that she has become a true Arkansan, she has taken up deer hunting, wears pink camo, and put a chicken coop in her backyard. On a stressful day, she can be heard yelling ‘Woo Pig Sooie’ when all else fails.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.