D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die

Game review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die Game Poster Image
Surreal, violent murder investigation has control flaws.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

The main character's love for his wife is overshadowed by murder, madness, drug addiction, and violence.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters are peculiar at best, despicable at worst.

Ease of Play

Gameplay is easy to grasp, tricky to control, and can be done by controller or Microsoft Kinect.

Violence

This is a murder investigation -- as such, it shows people being graphically beaten, shot, and stabbed during investigations and cut scenes. A drug taken by characters turns people inside out.

Sex

A female character wears only heels and a swimsuit. In one sequence, the main character playfully fights her, and she suggestively fights back.

Language

"Damn," "s--t," and "f--k.", some frequent use.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Main character frequently drinks tequila, and people are seen doing "real blood," a strange, deadly drug.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die is a downloadable adult-themed adventure game dealing with murder, mental illness, and violent crime. Players control a mentally imbalanced ex-cop whose wife was killed by an unknown assailant. He's obsessive, self-destructive, and agoraphobic, with a tendency to drown his sorrows in tequila. He engages in violent altercations, and other characters are shot, bludgeoned, kicked, and stabbed. Blood and profanity flow freely. One female character wears only a swimsuit and heels and fights with the main character. Secondary characters use a weird and deadly drug called "real blood," which causes strange side effects such as turning people inside out.

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What's it about?

D4: DARK DREAMS DON'T DIE tells the story of "a man with a very strange fate." That man is David Young, a former detective with the Boston police department. After a full mental breakdown, David spends his days locked in his apartment mourning the loss of his pregnant wife, Peggy, and swearing revenge upon her killers. The upside of his terrible loss is that he's gained the ability to "dive" into the past by touching various items called "mementos." He uses this ability to jump back into the midst of an old drug case involving an airplane, a vanishing courier, and a shadowy figure called only "D." He's convinced that if he can identify "D," he'll find his wife's killer.

Is it any good?

D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die is an unforgettably bizarre adventure. On the surface, it's a typical hard-boiled detective story, but underneath it's a surreal trip through one man's psyche. David has the ability to travel through time and space, so the action jumps between the present and the past. The present involves piecing together events leading up to David's wife's murder and hanging out with his gluttonous ex-partner and a strange, free-loading girl who thinks she's a cat. Although the present contains plenty of pointless (albeit entertaining) moments, the past focuses strictly on David's investigation. You search for evidence and interview passengers/potential suspects (there are many eccentric, even grotesque, personalities). Things get downright David Lynchian here, full of twisted nightmare logic. It's both exciting and unsettling.

Unfortunately, the experience is diluted by a clunky control scheme. Everything is done by moving a pointer over on-screen icons, which is slightly less cumbersome with a controller. Other problems are the game's wooden characters and episodic nature. The former you can get used to; the latter just isn't fair, because it means the game ends right when it's really getting interesting. Despite these flaws, D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die is well worth your time and money. It offers an absorbing story, interesting ideas and varied, compelling gameplay. Its stylistic approach could make playing it a “love it or hate it” kind of prospect, but if you keep an open mind, you're in for a good -- or at least thought-provoking -- time.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Familes can talk about violence in games. What's more disturbing: the depiction of violence or psychological motives that cause someone to commit violence?

  • Discuss losing a loved one. The main character in D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die loses his wife tragically and has trouble mourning her. How do different people express grief? What might be a healthy way to handle painful emotions?

Game details

  • Platforms: Xbox One
  • Price: $14.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: Access Games
  • Release date: September 19, 2014
  • Genre: Adventure
  • Topics: Adventures
  • ESRB rating: M for Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, Sexual Content and/or Strong Language

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love solving mysteries

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