Swery65 released cult hit Deadly Premonition back in 2011, and it gave its players a fascinatingly weird surprise. At first glance, it looked like an outdated, budget survival horror game that looked liked it belonged on a Sega Dreamcast rather than Xbox 360. However, players only needed to play up until Agent York mentioning “FK” being in his coffee to know that there’s more to Deadly Premonition presentation lets on. Now, Swery65 has a new project called D4, and it’s just as wonderful as its predecessor.
D4 is designed with the Kinect in mind, although players can now opt to play with an Xbox One controller. This makes sense considering that Microsoft is no longer forcing consumers to purchase a Kinect along with an Xbox One. For this demo, I decided to play the Kinect version anyway; therefore, I feel that I should recount the events for this preview, although I will also explain my thoughts on the controls.
Immediately D4 presents its odd-ball behavior with a straight face. The demo begins with a slow-motion falling shot with protagonist David Young. David falls into his own bath tub–somehow spinning in process. Even though the scene is ostensibly melancholic, the tone is offset by some nonsensical aspects, and I’m left with several unanswered questions. For instance, how high up was David that it took him this long to fall, spinning no less, into the tub? What even caused him to fall in the first place? And…is that chewing gum all over his face? It appears that David takes himself far more seriously than his game does.
At this point, David gets out of the tub and proceeds to give one of many monologues–it seems David has a thing for being dramatic. David has been spending his time trying to find his wife’s killer. David used to be a narcotics officer, but now he is a detective. Coincidentally he includes drugs and chewing gum as his dislikes–again, why was he chewing gum while falling into the tub if he doesn’t even like the product. He also speaks of his love for straight 100% de Agave tequila. He also has a special power that allows him to examine mementos, which helps point him in the right direction for most of his cases. In this case, he finds a woman’s high-heel; however, it’s apparently too weak and he can’t use it. I guess we’ll have to take David’s word about his power.
At this point, I was able to take control of David via the Kinect. I used my right hand–whichever hand a player chooses to sign into Kinect–to perform most of David’s actions. Circular hotspots denote objects or areas of interest that David could examine or go to. For instance, I grabbed the circular icon above the toilet, and then David closed the lid and sit on it. The controls become rather interesting, though. For instance, I rotated the camera by taking my hand to the edge of the screen, grabbing the contextual hotspot, and then pulling it towards the center of the screen. Rotating items is also a seamless process. For instance, I turned on the sink by grabbing the hotspot above the sink, and I moved my hand in the direction of the in-game arrow. These are the brunt of the D4’s Kinect actions in terms of navigating and examining, but the controls become more interesting once David leaves the bathroom–his “working place”.
Once David leaves the bathroom, he stumbles to the kitchen table, where his case files, tequila and a photo of his wife are. It is here where I am finally able to use David’s power. To activate it, I touched the top of my head with both hands; I felt simultaneously ridiculous and cool. The screen then becomes digitized, and could explore more of the kitchen than previously. At this point, David concludes that the person who killed his wife goes by the name “D”, and he can cross off the owner of the high-heel off the list. Of course, players wave their arm to cause David to dramatically cross off one name in his list of many suspects.
The final moments of the demo are the most interesting. David hears someone attempting to open the door, and he questioningly calls out the name Amanda. David opens the door only to be immediately attacked by a strange girl wearing a one-piece and bizarre ribbon. She attempted to sweep my legs from under me, but I dodged by swiping each of my arms up. Then she threw various dishes, but I swiped my arms in the appropriate directions to deflect them (I’m not sure what would have happened if I failed). As I parried her attacks, I noticed that the girl had a mouse in her mouth the entire time, and she somehow placed the mouse, which was still alive, into David’s hands. Finally, David attempts to subdue the girl by grabbing the back of her hair and pulling her, which I mirrored with my own hand, but he slipped and was pinned by the girl. David finally reveals through monologue that the girl is Amanda, and she had at some point decided to live there one day, and she is the source of David’s groceries.
D4 is a weird game, but I also think it’s the kind of weird that only makes me want to see what happens next. It emulates the same fascinating qualities found in Deadly Premonition, although it has a much nicer, cell-shaded presentation. The Kinect controls are also intuitive, and I would even consider playing the game with just a Kinect. D4 will be released later in 2014.