At TGS we got a chance to look at SWERY’s upcoming D4 (short for “Dark Dreams Don’t Die,”—no relation to Kenji Eno’s D and D2) running on Xbox One using Kinect.
D4 is an episodic murder mystery story that centers around private detective David Young, who’s trying to solve the murder of his wife, Peggy. Well, perhaps “solve” isn’t the right word, so much as save. You see, while David doesn’t remember what happened, the day she died he gained the ability to dive into the past using “mementos,” objects that contain memories, and he pledged to find her killer. His only hint? He knows it was someone called “D”.
The demo we were shown began in an airplane bathroom. The Access Games rep playing the game (as SWERY gave a running commentary) started turning David by sweeping his hand across the screen and sent him towards a sink. He then mimed washing his face, Kinect noticed this, and David washed his face too. SWERY said that David is meant to be more empathetic than Deadly Premonition’s Francis York Morgan, and little touches of synchronicity like this are part of building that empathy. The new Kinect could now identify whether your hands were open or closed and had a faster response time, Access Games wanted to replicate the sense of opening a door and washing your face.
As David exited the bathroom, he stumbled into Olivia Jones, a flight attendant who looked uncannily like his wife. After a brief, awkward conversation in which David inadvertently called her “Little Peggy” (his pet name for his wife) and she revealed that she knew he wasn’t on the flight manifest (then promptly dropped the subject). It was a delightfully awkward exchange that called to mind the strangely disconnected voice acting that made Deadly Premonition so charming. Sadly, the Microsoft rep in the room assured everyone that the voices were not necessarily final. I do hope they are.
After this exchange, David walked out into the plane proper to continue his investigation into the drug lord known as D. While this isn’t necessarily the same D that killed David’s wife, this dealer had been pushing a new drug called “Real Blood” on the streets and might have had a connection to the murderer.
The memento that brought David into the past was a badge that belonged to US Marshall Derek Buchanan. David brought his badge over to him and confronted him about… something vague enough for the audience to not know what it was. It seems as though the two had history, and the Access rep guided David through some flippant responses to each threat that Derek threw his way. SWERY said that encountering the owner of each memento lead to a higher “Synchro rate” for each memory you dove into.
Shortly afterwards, David and Derek were interrupted by Duncan, a green-beehived designer, who was critiquing the design of the plane while talking to his similarly-coiffed mannequin (who he might have been in love with), Sukey. While they didn’t do much in their introductory scene, SWERY promised that they were significant, as Duncan’s name and occupation (designer) both started with D. Perhaps this extends to other characters as well?
Shortly afterward, we were shown one-eyed drug dealer Antonio Zapatero stomping on (and possibly murdering) Derek Buchanan, who had him in captivity. This lead to an airplane-wide fight scene between Antonio and an inquisitive David.
This is when things got weird. The music increased in pitch to an Irish jig and a carefully choreographed, Kinect-focused fight scene began to play out. This was surprisingly brutal, involving punches, knives, a beating with a megaphone (that climaxed with the Access Games rep shouting into the Kinect to deafen Zapatero), and even more chaos. If the player misses a prompt, the fight will play out differently, potentially with David taking a bit of damage, which will stay with him as you play (at least, that’s what SWERY told me about the cuts that David had on his arm throughout the demo).
The fight hit the peak of its insanity with a “Synchro Stunt”. In the midst of the combat, Sukey was broken apart, causing Duncan great distress, but providing a handy stand-in baseball bat for David as Antonio threw a baseball at him. The game required the person playing to pose as if he was holding a baseball bat, then swing to hit the ball back towards their foe. Naturally, the Access rep handled this with ease and the struck ball knocked out Antonio’s glass eye.
After a bit more violence, Antonio and David ended their fight with simultaneous strikes to each other’s crotches, and the demo drew to a close. While there’s no release date, no set price, and no set number of episodes (SWERY says if people keep buying them, they’ll keep making them, although each episode will have a definite ending with a hook to keep people interested), what I saw of D4 caught my interest. I’m looking forward to seeing the final product.
Food for Thought:
1. David chews gum through the majority of the demo. SWERY explained that, while David doesn’t like how sweet gum is, he chews it in memory of Peggy.
2. Like Spy Fiction and Deadly Premonition before it, D4 will include a Forrest Kaysen.