It’s difficult to say anything about D without first talking about Kenji Eno. The guy was, quite frankly, insane, but in all of the ways I that I admire. He was daring and unconventional, often to his own detriment, perhaps most well known for snubbing Sony at their own press event, announcing that he would work exclusively for Sega while a logo transformed on the wall behind him. Before that, he had committed to making games exclusively for the 3DO.
The guy had balls, if nothing else.
Though he was around for quite a while, it’s his run in the mid-90s with WARP that he’s best known for, applying his maverick philosophies to a series of Saturn and Dreamcast games. If nothing else, every one of his games tried something new and unique; Enemy Zero was populated entirely with invisible enemies, Real Sound: Kaze no Regret was an action game designed for the blind, Short Warp was a surreal minigame collection that came packed with a limited edition condom.
D was to be a sort of interactive horror movie. What made it stand out was the complete lack of a save or pause feature, combined with a strict two hour time limit. You had no choice but to attempt to beat the game in one sitting. It was antithetical to everything we expected from game design at that point. Even now, the concept seems absurd and would be lambasted in the press for being anti-consumer. I find myself torn on the concept. Parts of D can be a little obtuse, but the time limit is still pretty generous and game doesn’t offer much in the way of fail states. It fits with the idea of D being cinematic, a concept that Eno stretched for all it was worth. The main character Laura was even created to be a “digital actress”, a model used in other games to play other roles. She also serves as the main character of Enemy Zero and D2, even though the three games have no other relation to each other.
Stepping back a bit from my appreciation for the creator, D is a little tough to go back to now. Laura slowly walks through a medieval castle in search for her father, solving rudimentary puzzles. Occasionally something wacky will occur. The story doesn’t really make any sense, but that’s because it was pretty much just thrown together at the last minute, inserted via flashbacks. Eno’s primary focus was instead on adding as much gore as possible and making sure he could bypass the censors to keep all references to cannibalism intact. He succeeded in that by flat out deceiving the ratings board. Because of course he did.
Rest in peace, you beautiful crazy man.