Why did I play this?Why did I play this?

Posted on Oct 7th 2014 at 01:17:49 PM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under Horror, 3do, sega, saturn, sony, playstation, horror, halloween, spooky puzzles

Welcome back to a world of horror and fright. You may remember last year when I did a review of a game  (Thief: The Dark Project [http://www.rfgeneration.c...The-Dark-Project-2639.php]) that many would not consider when pondering their options to step into a good atmosphere that sends chills down your spine and squeals up your throat. The real "horror" came from the masterpiece's years spent in "Development Hell" where its focus was changed about a half dozen times. In contrast to a jumbled mess of juxtaposed design and experimentation that somehow worked brilliantly, this year I bring you D. Just "D." The letter "D." No more. No less. "D."

D is a horror puzzle game developed by WARP and published by Acclaim. It was originally created and released on the 3DO, but given the system's less than stellar sales record, the game was ported over to the Sega Saturn, Sony Playstation, and DOS in the Western markets. Acclaim insisted on porting it over to the other consoles themselves, and localizing it for the international market. In Japan, the Saturn release was a smash hit, debuting at the top of the sales chart. This port was also successful on the sales charts in the West, despite that console's lukewarm reception. Sadly, Sony did not manufacture enough copies to even  satisfy pre-order demands for the Playstation release, and few were ever produced. As a result, the Saturn version is the easiest to find in the US. There's not too much difference in price between the two, although the Saturn version averages out to be cheaper. The 3DO version stands up as the hardest to find and most expensive release.

**image from Theisozone**

D's development is a wonderful tale in and of itself; Kenji Eno went to extreme lengths to keep the real story of the game hidden (even from his coworkers) in an attempt to sort of cheat his way into a publishing deal. He made the game appear more like it was a clean cut adventure title with high quality graphics, not unlike its predecessor, Myst. Since Kenji Eno personally visited manufacturers in the USA to switch out his clean version from the real version, he also bypassed any possibility of censorship.

Even today, the horror imagery and well-detailed art design and environments (for the time) stand out among its peers in the genre. While Resident Evil (released after this game) would rely on bad voice acting and jump scares, D does an excellent job of instilling a creepy atmosphere around the player and the young woman you control, portrayed by WARP's digital actress, Laura Harris.  One interesting way that this atmosphere was achieved was through a design choice that forces the player to sit and play the game; there is no saving or pausing. You have two hours of real time to finish the game from start to ending. That may seem like a short time, but I ended up being about ten minutes shy of beating it when I first played; the second time was a charm.

**image from Gamingsymmetry**

One of the reasons you might get stuck and take a bit longer to finish could be due to the game's puzzle design. D is quite reminiscent of point and click adventure games, but given its short length, most of these puzzles lack the depth and difficulty of some similar PC adventure games. The exploration and movement work well for being limited to a controller. However, the game's movement design is odd in that some rooms have paths that go all over the place. One example of this is in one of the bedrooms. You'll step inside the room and look at a painting. You can only walk towards this painting at first, but later, you will need to get onto a table to the right of the painting.  To get to the table from the painting, you have to turn left, walk to the other door, turn and step to the bed, turn to the left again, and then step forward to the table. You can't just turn right when you're already standing next to the table.

In retrospect, D certainly feels aged, and compared to other horror games, its quite tame. As you play you'll find that the atmosphere is where the real tension lies, and there are some creepy images and unexplained phenomena throughout this mansion where Laura finds herself. The occasional desecrated corpse catches her by surprise, and a wall of spikes early in the game might be only real jump scare in the game.  D's most successful contribution to the video game industry is that it influenced later titles in terms of presentation. The game's unexpected success in all markets is simultaneously a beginning and an end to its genre, as slower, FMV puzzle games were nearing their twilight. D's future influence lies in its tight artistic designs, well produced visuals, and its use of sound to create a setting and experience that will stick with the player. D is aided by its length; since the game is so short, everything that happens gets stuck in your mind. You'll rarely find yourself scratching your chin trying to remember something, like you might do in a long-winded RPG or another horror game.

**video from Filner**

If you have about $20-40 burning up your pocket or paypal balance and you want a good, creepy experience that doesn't require a long term commitment, then D is a fantastic purchase.

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loved this game. And I also found the brevity part of its unique awesomeness.
I see this game at local shops quite often. Have always been intrigued by the cover and the brevity of the title. Ha! Thanks for the review.
I've never really got into this game (at least not as much as its sequel).  I pretty much avoided it for years due to the FMV-like appearance and my game store manager's comment that the game "deserved a D"."  Not that I know a bit more about it I'll definitely give it a chance should I come across it again.
I think I own this on every platform...do you know which tends to look/play better? I might pop it in this week to have my wife and her friend play through it.
@Shadow Kisuragi: When I was reading up on the game I believe the consensus is that the 3DO release looks the best while the Saturn version has the best load times.
Cool. Always love an excuse to break out the 3DO. Thanks!
Shadow, you have the DOS version?
I played through D back on the Saturn shortly after release, and it has always stuck with me as an interesting title. I can clearly here the father's voice... "Laura... Laura..." and it was well done and eerie. I'd certainly recommend the game, and hope that people enjoy it for what it is.
@Duke.Togo: She always looks around for it before looking straight ahead and lifting her head up, gasping in surprise. He always pops up right in front of her!
I am intrigued. What does D mean?
@shaggy: That would be a spoiler.
stands for "Damn, y'all haven't played this yet???"
The name is kind of driving me nuts.  If it had a number or subtitle after it the game would be easier to find.  All I wanted to do was to look up the PC version of the game and I get like a million entries.
@bombatomba: I originally made mention of this but it looks like boss man redacted it. I used that sentence to vent my frustration while doing price research on each console release of the game.  I still post my originals on my wordpress for those that are interested.

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