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D (3DO) artwork

D (3DO) review


"Tonight I bring you a review I had hoped never to write. I like to play my games before I pen something about them, but D left me with no such option. I donít mean to imply that I watched a trailer or read the blurb on the back of the box in lieu of getting my hands dirty with what D has to offer, but the truth in the matter is that no one has ever genuinely played this game. Not even Kenji Eno, whose name blankets the end credits as lead producer, writer, and music composer!"



Tonight I bring you a review I had hoped never to write. I like to play my games before I pen something about them, but D left me with no such option. I donít mean to imply that I watched a trailer or read the blurb on the back of the box in lieu of getting my hands dirty with what D has to offer, but the truth in the matter is that no one has ever genuinely played this game. Not even Kenji Eno, whose name blankets the end credits as lead producer, writer, and music composer! If that sounds odd, then know it is only because D is not a conventional game but rather an interactive FMV movie. Sure, you may press a button on the controller here or there, but D is on rails for its entire duration. That, in and of itself, makes it sort of an oddity. But any wise gamer will know that this interactive FMV movie is really just a relic of yesteryear hearkening back to a time when developers not named Hideo Kojima went out of their way to make games more cinematic and less game-y often to the detriment of their best intentions.

D stars a voice-less woman named Laura. She happens to be Kenji Enoís brainchild, and I must admit that his idea for creating her was rather bold. Remember when Square ventured into the film industry with Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within? Remember how they made a big deal out of Aki, and how they hoped they could use her to star in other unrelated Square-produced films? The idea was that even though Aki wasnít real, she could potentially personify any number of roles across any multitude of films unconnected in any way just like real life actors do. Before Square advertised all of that hullabaloo, Kenji Eno fantasized over the same concept with Laura from D and how he hoped she could star in any number of unrelated video game roles since the concept would allow her to take on the personae of different characters unlike, say, any conventional video game character that would be obligated to remain as that character since it would be that character by default. Eno would get his way two more times with Laura starring as the main protagonist in Enemy Zero and D2 some number of years later.

Now, you would be forgiven for assuming that D and D2 are intertwined since they appear to be in a series and star the same main character. Turns out that theyíre not related at all, aside from the voiceless Laura character appearing in both. While I can appreciate Enoís novel idea for having a virtual character take on a lead role across a series of unrelated games, I canít give him quite as many props for insisting that it is Laura who stands beneath the spotlight. For one, sheís just not that interesting because she never speaks. And given that D was originally released in 1995 on the 3DO, it shouldnít be surprising to find that her movements are slow and jerky, her appearance porcelain and fake.

Fortunately, while I may not be head over heels with Laura, I at least can appreciate to some degree the set-up for which she is tasked. D begins as a murder mystery with Lauraís father, Richter, shooting up a hospital for no apparent reason other than because he seemed to find it enjoyable. When Laura goes to investigate, she finds herself trapped inside Richterís mind, as the hospital setting evaporates into a secluded mansion setting. From here, Laura must solve puzzles with the help of subtle clues all while ignoring her fatherís spectral channeling as he implores her to leave the mansion before it is too late. If Laura could speak, she might say the following:

ďHey, Dad, Iíd be happy to leave, but you locked the front door and then released a giant bolder that trapped me at the bottom of a long spiral staircase. Youíre an ass!Ē

D is a small game in spite of taking up two discs (at least on the 3DO version). It can be bested in just over an hour if you know what youíre doing. If you take more than two hours to progress, Laura runs out of time, and youíre forced to restart from the very beginning. You cannot save, and pausing isnít an option, either. This short, uninterrupted duration combined with the mansion setting, blocky FMV graphics, and minimal background soundtrack give D an excellent sense of atmosphere Ė easily its great quality. While traversing through the game may be cumbersome thanks to the slow pacing, at least the game is over quick enough so you donít have to stay too invested to find out Richterís motive for those murders back at the hospital.

Along the way, the game offers a few backhanded challenges to try and offer some form of resistance to just soaring through. The most notorious challenge comes in the form of a wheel that must be rotated to cause stairs to appear that lead to one of four different rooms. This wheel challenge is obnoxiously tedious, and it will take most players many spins before they finally get it right. Also worth noting is that there is only one enemy in the entire game Ė a possessed statue of armor Ė that can easily be dispatched by fulfilling a short QTE sequence.

That leads to another problem. Since D is short and simple, and since Laura only needs to complete a few key puzzles to finish the game, there really isnít any real reason to return to D after it has been beaten aside from seeing both endings and witnessing all four flashbacks showing Lauraís uncomfortable memories with her mom.

Overall, Iím glad I got to see D in action. I only wish it would have been back in 1995 and not in 2012. D must once have been shocking and memorable. Today most would find it boring and unimportant. To me, D stands for dull. Not Dracula.

Rating: 4/10

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Community review by Fiddlesticks (August 21, 2012)

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