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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

Avatar from Code Vein sitting and thinking

Hmm… What Are My Top 3 JRPG Games?

I am a bit late with scheduling posts. Just feeling a bit under the weather. Haven’t had much energy to write. I have been playing Tales of Arise off and on though, and I know that I am coming to an end. I have already spent 40 hours plus to know whether I like it or not and I am just unimpressed with the execution so far. I won’t deny though it has a good political statement. Unfortunately, it falls under my Pretty Face but No Character list of games. In other words, it just means that it’s all for show and not much substance. It’s kind of epically disappointing. Let the audience decide if it is an epic tale rather force feed it to us. I don’t feel immersed in it and I am just waiting until the credits start rolling to give it a fair review. Not sure whether I will take the time to write a review for this game though. I did feel a little deceived by gaming critics for calling it a good game. The hypes always lead to disappointment. Perhaps, I am just not in the right mental state.

So to vent my disappointment with Tales of Arise, I am replacing my negative emotion with the more positive emotion I had with JRPG. So, I present you my list of my 3 top favorite JRPG games. I really had to think about this one since I enjoyed a lot of JRPGs. Unfortunately Code Vein didn’t make it to my top 3, so if you clicked on this post because of my featured image, I apologize. In no particular order, I make my list:

  1. Suikoden III (PS2)

2 Trinity: Souls of Zill O’LL (PS3)

3) Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean ( Gamecube)

Honorable mention: Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii)

The trailers can’t capture the scope of these epic games. It was hard trying to find a high quality trailer because I know some people out there care so much about graphics. Graphics are great but it doesn’t make a game. That’s how I feel about Tales of Arise. If you haven’t played any of these JRPGs, I do recommend them. These are the games that made me fall in love with the genre. Hope you enjoy the list and the game trailers. In the future, I may elaborate on the games above, but for now, making a list will suffice. Until next time, see you!