Note: Review was originally published July 7, 2003
Released in 1996 [the Japanese version was released in December of 1995 – Randy], Acclaim’s horror adventure D is set in Los Angeles. There has been a mass murder at a hospital and the renowned doctor Richter Harris is responsible. Richter is apparently still in the hospital with a large number of hostages and the police can’t get to him. Upon hearing the news, his daughter Laura immediately drives to the crime scene and marches right into the hospital the police are incapable of entering. Once inside, she encounters a strange substance that transfers her to a world born of her father’s imagination. Alone in what appears to be a large house full of deadly traps and mutilated corpses, it is up to Laura to solve the mystery and discover what has driven her father to commit such horrible crimes.
In the role of Laura, players explore the strange house solving various puzzles along the way. The plot unravels as Richter communicates with Laura at various points in the game and as Laura has flashbacks when she finds glowing bugs around the house. At the climax of the game, Laura confronts her father and players find out why the game is called “D”. Unfortunately, there is not much to the mystery, making the story easily forgettable. What lacks in story depth is, however, made up for by the atmosphere of the game. D is dark and scary with its detailed if not particularly gory environments. The game also succeeds in creating a sense of tension, giving the players the feeling that something big is about to happen at any moment.
The graphics are very good considering the age of the game. Players experience D from a first person view. The arrow keys are used for movement and the inventory is accessed with the ‘I’ key. The space bar handles actions like picking up and using inventory items. Laura’s movements are smooth, even though she is rather slow. Especially when Laura is going up the stairs or leaning towards an object of interest, it becomes obvious how much effort was put in making the camera movement realistic. However, Laura’s character animation could have been handled a lot better during the video sequences. Her face hardly conveys any emotion even when she is in mortal danger, while her movements seem sharp and forced.
The sound effects and the music are excellent in setting the game’s dark mood. The sounds are very realistic with an eeriness that adds much to the game’s atmosphere. The music, performed by an orchestra, is chilling and very successfully reflects the mood of the game. The voice acting on the other hand, is way below average. Granted the only person who talks in the game is Laura’s father, but I found myself barely able to tolerate his voice when I played through the game a second time.
What makes D a failure and the reason it is on Just Adventure’s list of “turkeys” is exactly what is supposed to make it stand out. From the moment the game starts, players have exactly two hours to complete the game and there is no save function. While this seems to be a nice touch at first, what it really means is that the game is very short. The puzzles, although entertaining for the most part, will not be challenging for experienced adventure gamers, especially since Laura is confined to a relatively small portion of the house at any point in the game with a limited number of things to examine. She is even equipped with a mirror that can be used to get hints about the current puzzle three times before it shatters. Furthermore, since some puzzles only exist to provide hints about other puzzles, it is possible to get through the game without solving all of them. In fact, the first time I played the game, I solved one of the major puzzles accidentally while experimenting to see how it worked, before solving the two puzzles that lead to the clues that were supposed to help me with it. I completed the game successfully on my first attempt and when I played it again to see the alternate ending, I was able to get through it within half an hour. Although the multiple endings do add some replay value, I highly doubt that such a short game with a thin story will leave very many players satisfied. I can only recommend D to those adventure gamers looking for an easy horror game. My final grade is a C.
Final Grade: C
4 MB free hard disk space
1MB VESA Compatible SVGA video card
Sound Blaster & 100% Compatible