Wednesday, 19 October 2022

D and D2 - Nonsense Transformations

It certainly seems like I take pleasure in comparing D to other games. Well, in the Month of SPOOOOOOOOOKIIIIIIIIIIness, I wanted to analyze it next to a game that many have considered superior. Get ready for a hot take this Halloween season.

Just to quickly recap, I love the first D, even though the title is Dreadful. See what I did there? ... I'll see myself out. But no, I really hate the title. Trying to look this game up on a search engine is an experience all its own. Still, the gameplay, the atmosphere, and the slow, creepy pace that you go at, it all comes up as a heartpounding experience with the lights out and the house empty. It's a short game, usually around an hour and a half if you know what you're doing. 

D2, on the other hand is a complicated matter in itself. The real problem is that there was almost no attempt to pin it with the first game and what attempt there is is lost in an entire barrage of cringeworthy plant transformations and... uhhh zombie... things. It really seems like they didn't make any attempt toward setting the same unsettling atmosphere. They seemed more intetested in adding combat and item pickups for health and stats.

It's obvious from the get go that they wanted a Resident Evil clone to piggyback on the success. The problem is that D already had its own strengths to draw upon and its own lore to expand upon. Instead of visiting a nightmarish world of haunted interiors, we get a snowy thundra and random encounters while wielding a semiautomatic weapon. In and of itself, this wouldn't be a problem, but this is D we're talking about.

What once was a puzzle solver is now a knockoff game that tries at the very least. Some of the mechanics are okay but most of the time, they end up adding nothing and taking away from the solid identity it started with.

You could have gone so much more in depth with the character study aspect of the first game. The idea of going into the mind of a psychotic killer had all of the potential and they drew upon that so well in the first game. They could have built upon that way better with a bigger budget but decided to mine gold where everyone else was already mining and some were doing it better.

Think about another two characters. They could have been family members or one could have been a victim of the maniacal other and something similar could have happened. Think about going through a larger mind palace with different themes and different horrors to face with your wits and quick reflexes. D2 did none of this.

What the sequel did was less than stellar. It was not an outright bad game, but it also did very little with its own concept. The part where you shoot the gun at the creatures was clunky, despite the fact that it was implemented in a more experimental way. It shows that they were trying and it was admittedly better than trying to shoot with tank controls.

There was some potential here that seems flat out untapped and that's a real shame. It would have been nice to have a sequel that delved into the idea that the first D had. While D2 wasn't a total failure (it does have its fans), I can't help but feel an overlying sense of disappointment. I never played the third or fourth game but I've heard I'm not missing a lot. If you're a fan of D2, believe me when I say that I don't hate it. I just wished for a bit less Resident Evil and a lot more Dread.


Gord said...

Warp/Kenji Eno had some strange ideas about videogames... With Laura - the protagonist of D, Enemy Zero and D2 - the idea was that she was simply a virtual actress, starring in a series of movielike games. If I remember correctly, there are at least a couple of other common 'actors' between E0 and D2. This allowed him the freedom to explore different genres with his preferred 'cast', and build a brand around Laura more than a particular game or style of game.

It's not a bad idea, and it'd probably work better now, in the wake of the vast number of more character-driven games we've had since... but, at the time, and because the games were so vastly different (and, to be honest, a bit on the simplistic side, with E0 and D2 only made complicated by some clumsy and tedious play mechanics) their failure as a series was pretty much inevitable.

Kenji Eno had some great concepts but, as a game designer, one could almost get the impression he didn't really like videogames.

Virtua Neptune said...
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Virtua Neptune said...
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