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Cover of D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die

D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die Review: Just Let Go of the Past

If someone came up to me and ask me what D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die is about, I would say it’s about letting go of the past, eating and relationships. These are the three themes I noticed quite frequently in the game and the three main ingredients that keep a person functional in the society. This game is about a broken man named David Young who is on a metaphorical journey from death to life.

David Young in D4:Dark Dreams Don't Die falling into the tub

Young lost his wife and we the players become the detective by diving into his dreamlike universe. One moment, we see Young falling into the bathroom, and then we see him reading a magazine on the bed casually, drinking coffee, crushing fortune cookies, changing music records, turning on the T.V, changing clothes, pushing little squirrel off the window etc. Everything seems calm and normal. Until Amanda, his cat, enters the scene. Then I realize, Mister Young is not okay. We are witnessing a man who is undergoing some severe trauma in the head!

Amanda posing in D4:Dark Dreams Don't Die game

And so, Forrest Kaysen (please see the picture below), an important supporting role in the game, is there to guide Young back to life, back to reality, the present moment. If you have played the game, you would notice once Young solved a particular mystery of his past, the memento lose its special power. This is a way for the game to tell the player–mystery solved. Now you can move forward into the present moment. Have you folks ever experienced that? When you are bothered by the past, but there is nothing you can do to change it, but live in regret? Leave it in the past, my friends, leave it in the past.

Kaysen chowing down food in the dinner scenes

Looking closely at Kaysen, he is like a philosopher and sometimes like a twisted version of Little Peggy, the protagonist’s wife. Speaking with him, opens up a dialogue about eating. It is important to nourish the body with food. How can any person function without food? Obviously, the game attempted to point out that people who are consumed by the past do not feed their bodies. Why would they? They are dead inside. So, it’s no surprise to me, when Kaysen confronted Young for not finishing his meal. Kaysen knows that Young has been drinking excessively to drown his misery. He is concerned for his friend’s physical and mental health, but he also wants some acknowledgement for his cooking ability. Did you know it is very rude to ask for a to go box in Japan if you can’t finish your meal in one sitting? Not only do we see Young playing with his food in the dinner scenes as if food is not a valuable source, but he also makes a point about how America is the land of the free. You are not obligated to finish a meal because you have a choice unlike Japan where the behavior is frown upon because it’s a sign of disrespect not only to the Cook but to life itself. This part of the game really highlights the differences between Japanese and American culture on food and the way human interact in a social setting in a twisted way. The game is after all directed by a quirky Japanese game director named Hidetaka Suehiro who is also known as Swery.

I know I mentioned a lot about the plot because I am assuming if you are reading this review then you’re the type of gamer who appreciate a good story. The plot and the colorful characters are definitely stronger than the gameplay; however, don’t be alarmed, the gameplay is creative and entertaining unlike some other cinematic games out there where gameplay is monotonously boring. The stunts with Amanda and the courier are quite funny. But my all-time favorite side game is taking Philip Cheney’s quizzes. His dialogue is interesting and his villain-like approach to the quizzes made me laugh hard. I am not surprised he is the fourth “D.”

Cheney on the plane

And yes, the game ends with a cliffhanger and is too short, but I didn’t mind it at all. The game is jam packed with timeless human drama that made me think even after I am done playing it. It made me think about human relationships as being the most important aspect of human civilization. We are like civilized social animals, resembling cats. According to a scrapbook article I found in the game, cats sacrifice the lone life to move in large group. Doing so will make them achieve social status. Hmm…we are like cats!

Lastly, the game made me think about relationship between lovers as the strongest bond between humans. Some of us argued that we don’t need it, but I think we do. Life seems more enjoyable despite the arguments that come with a relationship. Losing a relationship will drive us crazy as we see it with the Marshal who chases after the courier to avenge his wife’s death. He too, like the protagonist, is living in the past. But perhaps, Little Peggy is right: Things in the past need to stay in the past or else a person cannot move on and live a happy life. The only thing we can do is acknowledge our mistakes and practice for tomorrow as Young once said. Overall, the game gave me a good feeling. Most of the time, I was laughing with the game despite its dark plot.

I am still curious–who killed Little Peggy? I’m hoping for season 2. Let me know what your thoughts are on D4 if you have played it, and thank you for reading! Until next time, take care!

Note: Originally posted on March 4, 2017; revised and edited on August 4, 2022

A survival horror game

Remothered:Tormented Fathers Review

So, these past few days I have been playing some indie games, trying to give the smaller titles a chance to be recognized. Plus, I sort of got addicted to browsing games on Steam and added a few games to my Wish List. I will tell you what I find at a later time. For this post, I want to write a critical review on Remothered: Tomermented Fathers, developed by Stormind Games, published by Darril Arts, released in 2018. I enjoyed the game very much.

I bought this game a couple of years ago. It was one of the first game I bought on Steam but never got around to playing it. At the time, I recently had purchased a new laptop specifically for gaming and writing. Unfortunately, my laptop is not strong enough to run the game. Game crashes two times but I managed to beat it by quitting the game frequently for it to cool down. Oh, the experience was painful and it would have been better if I were to play it on PS4. I could have purchased a copy for the PS4 like I did with Tokyo Dark (you can find my review here). Instead, I stick with the PC version, risking my laptop to blow up in my face. I am just being dramatic. Actually, I have high toleration for minor nuisances. Rarely do I get mad if I have bad user experience, but I can see how this can be a glaring problem for some people.

A Classy Survival Horror Game

But let me tell you. This game is pretty intense. It’s that scary because you are being chased by a barely-naked old man who is wearing nothing but a butcher apron. The most difficult part of the game is trying to explore without being seen. Play with headphones is recommended. The sound effects are on par and intense like the sound from the Silent Hill 2 game. Don’t think about lowering the volume because you would need to listen to the psychopath’s footsteps and his humming of Old MacDonald had a farm song, which ties into the story. It’s like a game of stealth and hide and seek, which I really enjoy. Apparently, the little girl in me never dies. I like hide and seek games in horror style. I even found myself starting to sing along with the psychopath:

Old MACDONALD had a farm
E-I-E-I-O
And on his farm he had a lamb
E-I-E-I-O
With a baa baa here
And a baa baa there
Here a baa, there a baa
Everywhere a baa baa
Old MacDonald had a farm
E-I-E-I-O

Lyrics source: Musixmatch

If you enjoyed Clock Tower series for the PlayStation, you will appreciate this game. The difference is you play as a strong, professional woman in her 30s by the name of Rosemary Reed, which I find the game to be refreshingly intelligent and classy for its kind. The balance between gameplay and story is sophisticated. It feels like a cinematic game but it’s not. A few cinematic cutscenes between story and gameplay give me enough room to breathe without feeling overwhelmed. The story is full of suspense enough to keep me on my toes but unfortunately failed to captivate me. The plot is not very clear. I still have questions on who did what and what. Perhaps a second play through would dispel my confusion. At times, the dialogues between characters tried to be too deep that it felt a bit staged rather than immersive. This result in a disconnection between me and the story. But honestly, I could care less what is happening because I grade survival horror games based on gameplay not story. If I want that experience, then I’ll I just watch a horror flick as a passive observer. Still Remothered:Tormented Fathers is still a good game. The strongest point of the game is oddly, its presentation. I felt like I was playing inside a film. Artistically, that’s a good thing.

Gamplay in Remothered Tormented fathers

I could drown myself inside the mansion for hours because the sound of high heels is quite soothing against the creaking floor. The lighting in this game is beautiful. There were certain shots in the game I really admire. Just look at how beautiful Dr. Reed is skipping into a nightmare in the picture below.

Classy Survival Horror Game

She is so dedicated to her job that she is willing to risk her life? She’s so brave and a tad bit crazy. But who am I to judge? I suppose I am just as crazy as she is to find her admirable. After all, I am playing a survival horror game here. Throughout the game, it was so difficult not to laugh nervously when the psychopath from the mansion kept mumbling in the background something along the line: “This place is not open to the public!” and “Are you working overtime?” Strangely, these little minor details make me appreciate the aesthetic of the game as an art piece in itself. For one, a professional eloquent woman like Dr. Reed is quite attractive. Female protagonists don’t always have to be a young Barbie doll like in Haunting Ground, a PS2 game developed by Capcom, to mesmerize the audiences. However, there were a few minor issues that were a bit of an eye sore—the protagonist’s facial animation which looked more theatrical than natural and her internal dialogue: “This can’t be real”.  I often wonder why she was so persistent to trespass a private property in the first place only to find her desperately trying to get out of the mansion. Perhaps, I just didn’t find the plot convincing enough or else I wouldn’t have had this question in the back of my mind. The game has potential in the story department and the pacing of the game could have been extended. So, it wouldn’t feel like the player rushed into a nightmare—only to want out as soon as possible.

Gameplay wise, the game is pretty straight forward. The horror takes place in the mansion and if you follow a guide, you can beat the game in 1 or 2 hours. Running time is similar to that of a film. But quite frankly, I am not against it. It took me over 10 hours to complete the entire game because of trials and errors and obtaining all trophies. My only big complaint with the game is that the gaming mechanics can be quite frustrating sometimes. Do expect to die frequently. I rarely use any of the diversion items in the game, which are supposed to distract the psychopath. Perhaps, it’s my fault that I couldn’t read the in-game description correctly, but I just had no time to read or learn how it works when I am busy trying to run and hide from my pursuer! The entire structure of the game revolves around hide and seek and some QTEs (quick time events) which can be frustrating for those who don’t have high reflexes. Some gamers are dissuaded from continuing the game when they keep seeing the Game Over screen as oppose to someone who see it as a challenge. Luckily, this game doesn’t acknowledge the player’s failure, it just reloads from the last autosaved saving point. Finally, while hide and seek is the main gameplay’s concept, I find it a bit annoying that the enemy seems to appear from one place to the next conveniently. Players would naturally assume, it takes a certain amount of time to walk from point A to point B. Apparently, the enemy doesn’t follow the same physics rules; I don’t believe it’s the game intention to make the enemy a supernatural being either. There were times when I would hide in the closet, waiting for the area to be clear of the enemy, but it always seemed like the enemy was nearby no matter what floor I was on in the mansion. When it comes to technical aspects, it needs some work, however, for the most part, the game’s concept is great!

I remember now why the game started with Dr. Reed smoking. Smoke while you can because you are going to be underwater for quite some time until you get another break!

Dr. Reed smoking in survival horror game Redmothered: Tormented Fathers

Overall, the game is good. The concept is intelligent. As a survival horror game fan, I enjoyed it and wish I had a physical copy of the game to put beside my collection of horror games, which sadly, aren’t many. Finally, I will tell you why I enjoyed this game, after all I am a bit of a wordsmith: Dr. Felton, the psychopath in this game is pretty sick. He’s a sickle. Get it? A sicko. And to his question, “Is it really worth it to put yourself into this story? No, but I am grateful it’s only a video game and it was fun! Now, I will go back to singing Old MacDonald had a farm song and go to bed happily because I found myself a good survival horror game to play.

fishingformetaphors in survival horror game

Red Bow Game

Red Bow Review: A Nice Bittersweet Treat

I heard in Japan there is vending machine for everything. Is there a vending machine for fast games? A quick game that will give you a mental boost?  Yes, this game is very short. Depending where you purchase the game (I bought mine on Steam for around $2), it wasn’t a huge loss. I spent a few hours total with the game. Not because it was difficult, it was because I had to restart the game several times when I got stuck. But if you follow a guide you can beat it in an hour. So game design is quite questionable.

The game, in my opinion, is designed for those who love trophy hunting, and who appreciate short sweet story. These days, you are considered bad-ass if you play indie games while at the same time accumulating trophies so you can show off to your gaming friends.  But if you are not one of those who care for that–no need to fret, the game has some depth.  You play as a little girl who is more like a little boy (she does not hesitate getting rid of enemies in the most brutal way).  Humor mixed with serious topics such as love, loss and death will surely leave you with a lingering aftertaste once you beat it.

In conclusion, the game ends with a powerful message.   One in particular is the message for the ladies: Stop asking your partner if you are pretty.  The only person who knows that answer, is you.  But I am pretty sure the lady has her own story that needs to be explored.  Overall, it’s still a heartfelt game worth playing if you have a few bucks to spare. I had a few laughs with the game so it was worth the purchase.

Red Bow 7_12_2020 8_54_08 AM (2)

Tokyo Dark: Decent but Missed the Mark

TOKYO DARK -REMEMBRANCE-_20200703184111

Okay, I think I was rather harsh with my assessment of what I think about Tokyo Dark, an adventure point and click horror video game created by Cherrymochi. I deleted my old post which I titled Tokyo Dark: Too Political It Will Make the Old Fat Pervert Cry, pointing out how the game lacks depth. But I must say the game is not as bad as I make it out to be. It’s a decent game, but definitely not mind blowing.

What irks me about the game is the fact that Ayami Ito, the protagonist, is a “strong” weak woman. She is tough on the outside, but unstable in the inside. It’s no surprise that she has to take medicine to cope with her mental health, apart being possessed by a mysterious mask. She so desperately cannot live without her partner to the point she chases after him into the sewer. Strong woman? Sounds like a damsel to me. She cannot survive without a man. The game is sending the wrong message to young girls and women.

TOKYO DARK -REMEMBRANCE-_20200703184139

Losing a love one is never easy. I get it. I too had to take anti-depressant pills when I loss not only my mom but a sister two years ago. With time though, you become emotionally stronger, not crazier as this game suggested. Mental illness is no laughing matter. Making a scary game based on mental illness is a touchy subject for me so that is why I am harsh with this game.

As I said before in my deleted post, the game is like a pretty face makeup Youtuber who makes a living looking pretty, but having no real depth. While playing the game, I forget I am playing a horror video game as the game focused so much on how hard it is to be a girl in a man’s world. We all know perverts love young girls, especially in maid outfit. But how do you expect to gain revenue if you disrespect your customers? Now don’t get me wrong, I am happy to see that the OLD FAT PERVERT got arrested in the game.

TOKYO DARK -REMEMBRANCE-_20200703180203

At the same time, perverts come in all shapes and sizes. The ones that young girls should be weary of is the seemingly nice guy who lures young girls into having sex with him, or what is worse is a woman who gained the trust of young girls and then turned them over to sex trade. Now that is a horror story in itself!

There are plenty of other horror games I enjoyed such as Nightcry and Cat Lady which have stronger message about not giving up in life. Tokyo Dark tried so hard that it missed the mark.

I’m not a mean person, so I will leave this post on a positive note: one thing the game got right is that in life, it’s better to laugh than to cry.

TOKYO DARK -REMEMBRANCE-_20200703183934

P.S

If you are a young woman reading this. Stay strong. Be strong. Know your worth. You don’t need men to save you. Only you can save yourself when it comes to your mental health.

Detention: An Indie Horror Game

After feeling disappointed with Evil Within 2, I decided to look for a new horror game to forget that horrid game.   I found Detention, watching a Youtube video clip, and so I gave it a shot.  I am not going to lie: survival horror/horror is my favorite video game genre and there is a good reason why.  But let’s not talk about that–leave it for another time. Let’s talk about the game.

This game is indeed creepy without the flashy stuff we see in AAA games.  You play a female protagonist, a teenage girl  who is undergoing personal hardship.  Like the protagonist,  I can recall experiencing that familiar overwhelming sadness when I was a teenager. I think it was so bad that the counselor and the school nurse had to check my wrists to see if I cut myself. Looking back, I think it was a typical thing for a teenage girl to go through (damn you hormones!).  So yeah,  it’s kind of nice to play a character that I can relate to and one that is realistically feminine.  A lot of games I’ve enjoyed  in the past were largely male-based.  I have my reasons–that too, I will tell you readers at a later time.

I won’t say much more about this game because I encourage you to check it out for yourself. Oh, and one last thing I do want to point out  about the game: the storytelling is ambiguous but not overly complex. The game has enough suspense and plenty of symbolic meanings, which I like very much.  There are 4 chapters and it didn’t take long to beat (around 2-5 hours). I think there are mutiple endings, so replay value is good.

Overall, I’d like to say great job RedCandleGames for crafting a pleasant horror game and for keeping me entertained during these winter evenings.

Fun survival horror game close to Clock Tower series

NightCry: A Cruel but Charming Survival Horror Game

NightCry is indeed a survival horror game and it felt like one. But it made me laugh more than it scared me. Now I sound a bit sadistic, but hear me out.

The game is designed to have multiple endings, but of course there is a good ending. That’s the one you want! I found myself  playing the game as if I am working on a math equation. The moment where you thought you had the answer, but your answer is wrong because you missed one little step?  Yep, NightCry will steer you to the path where you’d meet your early doom because you got the wrong answer! Occasionally, I heard someone laughing inside my head because I was like a mouse running inside a maze, trying to find an outlet only to find myself at a dead end. What a cruel joke.

Gameplay is very simple: light puzzles, running, and hiding, but you can’t always hide at a place twice, and if you fail to hold your breath, Scissorwalker will cut you up. Yes I died many times.

The Scissorwalker is a bit humorous to me. That thing likes to play peek-a-boo. Got to be careful not to examine everything, doing so will trigger the Scissorwalker to appear, but it’s necessary. The character runs out of stamina easily and starts falling on the floor, making it easy for Scissorwalker to snip the character to death. So you better know where to run to! I made a mistake entering a dark room without turning on my flashlight. I got killed. I laughed. Game over.

As for the characters, I found them fashionable, simple and charming. There are three characters you can control: Monica, Leonard  and Rooney ( her name sounds like loony).  They are well designed for their roles. In fact, I like all of them.

MonicaMonica

LeonardLeonard

RooneyLooney

I won’t spoil the story for those who are interested in the game, but I think the game is intended for those who are suffering from depression. Sometimes when things get too crazy in life, your mind is switched to survival mode, you got put your hand on your hip and remind yourself you are given life to live. So live!

My final thought for this game is that people experience games differently. Currently my life is not that cheerful so I can relate to both Rooney and Monica. So it may seem odd that I can laugh at such a game. I would classify this game as a dark comedy survival horror game if I could, but that is just subjective. But overall, I enjoyed the game and I’m glad  I didn’t let some negative reviews hindered me from playing. You can never know whether a game is good or not until you try it yourself. Playing a game is a different experience from watching.  So go play it!