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Gameplay: Puzzle-solving, Quick Time Events (QTEs)
Published by: Panasonic Software Company
Developed by: Warp Inc
Platforms: 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, SEGA Saturn, DOS
At the time of 8-bit consoles gamers could only dream of FMV in games. Cartridges contained only a few hundred kilobytes of information - so I had to settle for scanty pixel pictures as cutscenes. However, in the 90s the situation changed. There were more powerful consoles and disk drives, and the developers were able to create beautiful and cinematic games using digitized video. At this point, new varieties of games began to gain popularity - "Interactive Movie" and "FMV Adventure", which consist entirely of video clips. At first, such games used exclusively "live" footage with real actors. But soon progress stepped even further, allowing developers to create new worlds and their own virtual actors using computer animation.
One of the most vivid experiments in this area was the Japanese horror "D no Shokutaku", released in early 1995 on the console Panasonic 3DO. Thanks to the use of computer animation, the authors managed to create a strange and bizarre world, in which the dark gothic aesthetics intertwine with the insanity of a nightmare. In combination with an interesting story, eerie atmosphere and an abundance of surrealism, all this made D no Shokutaku a vivid example of video game arthouse.
The story begins in Los Angeles in 1997. A chilling incident occurred in a local hospital: Richter Harris - one of the best doctors of America - suddenly opened fire from a revolver around people who were in the hospital. The senseless cruelty of the deed horrified the townspeople and put the police in perplexity - for no apparent reason, the doctor suddenly started a bloodbath, mercilessly killing everyone who came to his eyes. But what made this quiet and calm person, for many years saving the patients, a cruel murderer?
Upon learning of the incident, Laura Harris was shocked - she could never imagine that her father was capable of such things. Wanting to understand what really happened, the girl hurried to the hospital surrounded by the police. At this time, Richter took refuge in the depths of the hospital, taking several patients as hostages - and the police did not dare to storm the building. Thus, all the hope for rescuing the hostages lies with Laura - the only person who can persuade Richter to lay down his arms. The idea is very risky, but for our heroine this is the only chance to understand the situation and help the father.
Discarding doubts, the girl crosses the threshold of a gloomy hospital, revealing inside the numerous corpses of dead people - silent witnesses to the tragedy that occurred. And at that moment something inexplicable suddenly begins to happen - right in front of the amazed Laura, the corridors of the hospital turn into stone chambers of a medieval castle! Soon our heroine realizes that the strange castle is an alternative world, born of the painful subconscious of Richter Harris. Now Laura has exactly two hours to find her father and understand the reason for his madness.
Gameplay in D no Shokutaku is an FMV-adventure game with a first-person view of Mansion of Hidden Souls and 7th Guest. We wander around the castle, explore the rooms, look for useful items and solve puzzles. All graphic design is based on video clips with computer animation - and for its time the game looks just gorgeous. Design is impeccable, the surrounding world is carefully worked out, and the main character looks very realistic. It's safe to say that at the time of its release, D no Shokutaku was one of the most beautiful horror games.
A very unusual feature of the game is that it must necessarily pass "in one go." There are no saves or pauses. It is impossible to survive here - and then start from the same place. You can not put the game on a "pause" - and go to a smoke break. The whole game must be completed from start to finish, without interruptions. In addition, there is a temporary restriction - if we do not have time to find Richter in 2 hours, then we are waiting for Game Over.
These restrictions serve specific purposes:
1) Make the player feel like a real participant in the events. After all, in real life there are no saves and pauses, and time does not wait. Here and here also.
2) Strengthen the atmosphere. When we are distracted from playing other things, the atmosphere is crumbling. Therefore, the player is put in such conditions that there can not be any breaks and "breaks".
3) Temporal restriction forces you to worry more and seek ways to solve riddles more quickly.
But the absence of pauses and saves also entails a number of inconveniences. Firstly, it makes no sense to sit down for a game, if you do not have at least a couple of hours of free time in your stock - you can simply not make it to the end. Secondly, if the console suddenly hangs (and 3DO was very fond of hanging in the process of the game) - then due to the lack of saves everything will have to start anew.
Judging by modern standards, the gameplay in "D" is certainly primitive - but still interesting. Each room of the castle contains some caches, traps and other surprises - therefore, the exploration of the surrounding world turned out to be quite fascinating. And the puzzles are original and memorable. The only pity is that you can not accelerate the movement of the heroine in any way - she is too slow.
However, the main charm of the game is not in the gameplay - but in a dark atmosphere and bizarre design. D no Shokutaku plunges us into a creepy surreal world in which pure madness reigns. Here everything is in the slightest detail contrary to normal rational logic, and danger can lie in the most unexpected places. Here hospitals become medieval castles, objects can appear from nowhere, beetles-scarabs can return lost memories to people, and a pocket mirror gives us clues to puzzles. In general, everything is like a delusional dream.
And this feeling of total madness is very well combined with the basic idea of the game. After all, our heroine was in an alternative world, born of the mind of a crazy killer! By the way, D no Shokutaku was the first horror game that allowed us to visit the world created by the subconscious of another person. A few years later, this idea will pick up many other Japanese horror stories - for example, Silent Hill, Juggernaut and Rule of Rose.
The game itself is rather short - the complete passage takes about 1.5 - 2 hours. And if you know in advance the solutions to puzzles, then you can run the entire game for 40 minutes. To partially compensate for the short duration, the developers have provided two possible endings. Thus, there is a motivation for re-walkthrough.
But that is not all. In addition to different endings, D no Shokutaku hides a surprise for the most attentive gamers. In the process of researching the game world, Laura can meet strange green beetles - at the sight of these creatures, the lost memories from the past, shown in the form of flashbacks, will return to the girl. If we find all the beetles, we will learn a terrible secret, shedding light on many plot questions.
I will tell in secret that this mystery is in some way connected with the theme of cannibalism. According to the creator of the game (Kenji Haino), in the 90s this topic was considered to be taboo - that's why he had to go to the trick and deceive the publishers so that the flash-flashing scenes would not be censored. First, Mr. Eno sent publishers for approval a partial version of the game, and then changed the discs, giving the full version of the flashbacks for replicating. Thanks to this risky adventure, his offspring managed to avoid censorship.
D no Shokutaku - this is an excellent cinematic horror, combining a dark atmosphere, unusual design and an intriguing plot. Of course, 20 years after the release of the graphics in the game is not so impressive, and the gameplay looks slow and primitive - but the brainchild of WARP has a bright personality and is still able to take for the soul, giving fans of horror a few pleasant evenings. And, of course, we can not deny the historical significance of the game - D no Shokutaku became one of the most striking Japanese horror stories of the pre-Renaissance era and introduced the concept of "subconscious worlds", thus trampling the path for later psychological horror movies.
Watch the time. You can always find out how much it remains at your disposal if you press L or R. The mirror of the mirror will tell you three times the necessary actions, but each time the cracks on it grow.
In an unfamiliar living room where you find yourself at the beginning of the game, go around the dining table, not paying attention to the vision on the ceiling - it will not hurt you. Do not be frightened by your reflection in the old mirror; go up the stone stairs. Enter the door on the right, go to the fireplace and take (button A) from it a key. Now, pressing L or R, you will see that you have a key. The golden beetle in the top drawer of the dresser will help Laura recall the decoration of her dead mother. Take the sheet in the first drawer. Go back to the living room and put a piece of paper in an aluminum bowl (selecting the sheet in the box that appears when you press L or R, pressing A). The manifested image of "IV-II" suggests what to do next: in the chest of drawers open the fourth and second boxes in turn. Take a strange object (this is the key to the wine barrel), again go down and go into the room with a wine barrel. If you stand in such a way that the barrel is on the left, then you can see the passage on the left hand. But as soon as you step to him, you will be attacked by a wall with sharp spikes. It will stop a few centimeters from you. Open the wine barrel with a key - and the spikes will disappear. You can go down to the door number 78. Remember this number. Go out into the living room and with the key found in the fireplace, open the door to the right of the fireplace. In the room there is a dead man with his right hand walled in the wall. Having dealt with how the code lock works in the next compartment (behind the stone partition), dial 78 (remember the number on the door?). The safe will open. Go back to this door number 78 and insert a ring from the dead man's finger in it. The door will open and you can go down. For you rolls a huge kernel, but you will have time to whisk into the small door. The animal images that appear in front of the portrait of a little girl are the key to the mechanism behind the bed on the right, when viewed from the entrance. Enter the wooden double door that opens after you correctly orient the animal figures on the mechanism. One of the deceased in the next room, you need to pick up the key and open the right drawer of the coffee table in the room with the portrait. From there, move the book to the bookcase in the next room, ignoring the warnings of your howling father. The closet will open the passage. After changing the CD, in the room at the top go to the old rusty wheel and turn it to full ten turns. Going out the door, which will now open. You will see two rows of knightly armor, and at the end of the row there is a deep stone well. On your way back there will be a knight in armor. He will throw you into the well, but an arrow indicating the salvation movement will help.
Returning to the room with the wheel, turn it six times and go up the stairs. With the sword, break the lock of the locked door and go inside. Look through the telescope to the constellation of Aquarius (zodiac sign - two broken lines (♒), stars - blue) and Sagittarius (sign-cross with arrow (♐), stars - green). These colors are useful to remember: at the fountain in the street you will see statues of Aquarius and Sagittarius. Click on the keys corresponding colors, and the water will leave the fountain in the niche of the room with the chest. Turn the rusty wheel ten more times and go down into the room with the chest. He is now swimming at the door. From the chest, take out an old pistol. Now return to the room with the wheel and turn it three times. Shoot into the glass wall and climb the staples into the tower. In the middle of the corridor, stop and turn left. Go straight to the wall, it must part, and you can go inside. Two gears must be deployed so that the red stone is above the hole in the other gear. The mechanism will immediately open to you a passage upward with wide luminous steps. Enter the passage with the portrait of Laura's mother. Through the light tunnel you will enter the last room. Your father is a real demon. If you approach him. You will perish. Do not listen to his accusations. You will have to shoot this worthy parent with a pistol, and then cry out loud over his corpse.