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The Underrated Xbox One Mystery Game You Still Need To Play

With the Xbox Series X on the horizon, there are sure to be a whole lot of next generation games to play. That doesn't mean you can't enjoy some older classics from time to time, however. If you're looking for a game not many have played but is still worth checking out, consider a hidden gem you might have missed: 2014's D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die

This murder-mystery title, named after the fourth dimension and not as a fourth installment of a series, comes in a graphic adventure format. It's the story of partial amnesiac Detective David Young, a Boston police-officer-turned-private-eye who is trying to solve his wife's murder from two years ago. His reality, his fantasies, and the supernatural ability to travel back in time after touching "mementos" help him in his quest. D4 is definitely pretty unique in terms of what's available on the Xbox One, which makes it all the more surprising it flew under the radar.

The game has some quirks

D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die features a David Lynch-inspired sense of humor and a more refined cel-shaded art style than fans of Access Games' previous work (such as the similarly themed Deadly Premonitions from 2010) expected. But that isn't the only notable thing about this Japanese-style title, which was developed with a "smart, surrealistic" tone by Hidetaka Suehiro (aka Swery) and Access Games. 

Microsoft Studios published this one for the Kinect peripheral, which the Xbox later abandoned, so you may want one of those obsolete accessories to play on the Xbox One. The game allows you to reach out to examine objects, or use gestures to deflect attackers (don't worry, you don't have to get off the couch). However, D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die can also be played with a regular controller, so you don't have to hook up the Kinect if you don't wish to. Still, the use of the Kinect is recommended by critics — and that's saying something. 

Additionally, D4 was supposed to have additional episodes beyond the initial prologue and two episodes, which never came — possibly because of lackluster sales. Although Swery released an image from a future installment in 2015 to Gamasutra, he announced his retirement from Access Games in 2016. Fans kept asking for more D4 episodes, but in 2017 the developer told Polygon he felt the story was complete.

It's a cult classic

D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die has a decent 76 Metacritic score for its Xbox One version, although the PC version of the game gets a more average score of 67. Digital Spy called it a "delightfully bizarre trip" and proclaimed it Suehiro's "best game yet, and also his weirdest." GameSpot lauded its "charm and cheekiness" and Giant Bomb called out the "amazing" characters and was not the only reviewer to observe that a thin veneer of reality lies over an absurd in-game world. However, Anime News Network didn't like it quite as much, pointing to "cringe-worthy writing," "overplayed" quirkiness, and a lack of "propelling gameplay." Some critics believed the game lost something vital when the controls were translated over to PCs, turning it into a traditional point-and-click adventure.  

The title did receive some awards, including Destructoid's Best Xbox Exclusive at 2014's E3 and best Camera Direction in a Game Engine at the 2014 National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers (NAVGTR) awards. It was nominated for several others, as well.

Ultimately, though, D4 retains status as a cult classic. Its fans love it, but it may not be everyone's cup of tea. If you do enjoy a bit of dark nonsense and characters you don't have to like, along with an unsettling story that takes place mostly on a plane, this might be something you'll enjoy. Season One is currently available for the Xbox One and PCs through Steam for $14.99.