Survival horror games have been stuck in something of a creative rut as of late, what with embarassing Resident Evil knockoffs like Carrier and Countdown Vampires proliferating. So when Kenji Eno, master of gaming weirdness, announced that his company Warp would be trying their hand at the genre, it looked like the influx of creativty that just might make this sort of game interesting again. So it's all the more disappointing in the final product, when you can see very clearly how much promise the design document must have had and the exact points where it failed to translate into good gameplay.

 These are the hands that will kill the sun!
The Hand of Gory

   One thing that does come across is the attention to detail as far as the graphics go. Most of the outdoor Canadian environment is a bleak white, but interiors are well-done and look almost prerendered, until you move around them and realize they're polygons. The Warp team also put a tremendous amount of effort into making the characters move realistically, and except for a very slight stiffness, the effort paid off. Especially worth mention are the faces: they may not deliver the subtlety of expression that the ads tout so much, but they're still the best, smoothest, most realistic faces seen in quite some time. The enemies, too, are suitably creepy and disgusting. (You may find yourself wishing they'd spent a little less time painstakingly crafting a network of bulging veins across a transformed human's face.)

   Surprisingly for a Warp game, the sound is where the game begins to falter. Most of it, such as the music and sound effects, are strong enough. Though it doesn't come in often, the music is always a welcome presence: even pieces such as Kimberly's song, normally a source of unintentional humor in games, stand well on their own. The wind outside howls convincingly and the enemies give off such squelching sound effects you'd swear you were fighting them in mud rather than snow.

Music: response
"Isn't there anything on Canadian radio but Alanis and BNL?"

   These things are to be expected from a developer with a history of attention to detail regarding sound, even going so far as to produce a game with no graphics--so one must assume that the botched voiceover job was on Sega of America's watch. What's meant to be a menacing incantation in the opening movie sounds more like a street bum murmuring to himself; the token moppet-in-danger is as cloyingly cute as these characters always are; one of the central characters speaks in such a hushed whisper, which is in turn mixed even lower, making it difficult to discern what she's saying even with your ear up to the speaker.

   Furthermore, Sega can't be held responsible for the things the characters say. Why does Kimberly constantly remark on what a good friend Laura is being, when they have only minimal contact throughout the game, during which Laura remains practically mute? Besides nonsensical individual character moments, there's the general air of pretension and highbrow posturing to deal with. Such "arty" touches as Laura flashing back to ancient conflicts and civilizations, Parker gravely wondering whether or not the mutated people you encounter still have any measure of humanity left, and the somber analyses of your inventory items will probably incite more fits of giggling than bouts of soul-searching.

 The good, the bad, and the vomitous
Airline food--the real survival horror

   The gameplay is just as uneven as the presentation; enjoyable in some areas while dragging in others. The game uses the standard Resident Evil control scheme, which fortunately isn't nearly as annoying as usual, mostly thanks to the wide open settings. It's also nice that you never have to fight with the controls when trying to escape from enemies--Warp fixed this by not allowing you to escape from enemies at all. Random encounters are a first for survival horror, and they're not the only unique thing about D2's system. When Laura meets an enemy, the view goes into first-person mode with a crosshair you move around with the analog stick. It's a little like playing House of the Dead 2--without a gun peripheral. On top of this, you're unable to look freely around past a certain point. If an enemy gets too far to the left or right, you're forced to hit B or X to whip around and face the enemy. The system has potential, and is definitely more enjoyable than the quick lock-on "battles" of Resident Evil games, but it still never quite feels intuitive or easy to use.

   Warp games have always been more about art and concept than gameplay, which unfortunately means very few of them are any fun to play. D2 is better than most, even going so far to introduce innovation in the stagnating survival horror formula, but in the end still falls prey to the navel-gazing inherent in Warp titles.

Review by Nich Maragos, GIA.
Developer Warp
Publisher Sega
Genre Adventure
Medium GD-ROM (4)
Platform Dreamcast
Release Date

Famitsu rates D2
31 screenshots