Twin Peaks returned last night to a great deal of fanfare and mixed reviews. The show was never really about satisfying audience expectations and was more about breaking ground in terms of the stories TV could tell. We will probably never see a game based on Twin Peaks (and if David Lynch had anything to do with it, it would be groundbreaking, fascinating, dissatisfying, and weird as hell). So if you’re feeling inspired by the return of the show and are looking to find a game that captures some of that show’s spirit, here are four games to check out.
The most obvious title to seek out is the game that almost seems like a sequel to the original show. Deadly Promonition casts you as an FBI agent investigating a mysterious homicide. Much like Agent Cooper, Agent York is a straightlaced, classic agent sent to investigate a murder in a scenic northwestern town. Unlike the show, Deadly Premonition has a lot more murder, violence and monsters than we saw in the original run of Twin Peaks. York is also a bit stranger as a protagonist as he frequently enters into one-sided dialogues with an unseen companion named Zack. Beyond Zack, the game gives you a wide community to explore and interesting inhabitants to encounter. Gameplay gets a little repetitive as you blast your way through hordes of backwards-bending ghosts, but the occasional chase sequence, weird boss fights, and bonkers final chapter keep the game interesting. Deadly Premonition’s graphics and gameplay can seem a bit dated, but the open world elements and the eccentric dialogue make the game a lot of fun to play.
Picking up on Deadly Premonition’s oddball citizenry, Thimbleweed Park also casts you as two FBI agents sent into an odd town filled with unusual characters in order to solve a murder. Thimbleweed is a point-and-click adventure that celebrates many of the classic Lucasfilm (and Sierra) adventure games of the 80’s and 90’s. Numerous characters from those games cameo at various points in your adventure, and different characters will occasionally break the fourth wall to remind you of some of those games more notorious faults (like Sierra’s use of random deaths to extend gameplay). More than the other games on this list, Thimbleweed takes time to really acquaint the player with the cast of the town and frequent flashbacks let you relive important moments of the citizens lives, such as when a smart programmer lands her dream job or when a standup comedian gets cursed by a gypsy (it’s a weird game). Thimbleweed is a smart, light, funny character study that’s a must play for fans of classic adventure games, and an oughta-play for fans in murder investigations in small-town America.
Certainly the most serious game on the list, Virginia is a first-person walking simulator (or easy puzzles adventure, if you prefer) where you play an FBI agent investigating a strange disappearance in a small midwestern town. You and your partner in the game are both female agents in a largely male agency, and this dynamic plays out in interesting ways as you investigate the case and also get to know your partner. There are hints of supernatural elements and sinister plotting behind many of the events in the town, but the real story is the relationship between the two agents. Virginia’s real triumph is not the story or gameplay but how well the characters convey very complex emotions without any dialogue. Even with very basic facial animation graphics (compared to Injustice 2, anyway), the characters’ expressions are always easy to pick up and understand. Virginia is a very unique gameplay experience. The ending is appropriately both fascinating and frustratingly vague for those who like clear conclusions, very much like Twin Peaks.
D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die
Okay, so we’re cheating a little bit to include Hidetaka Suehiro’s work twice on the list, but he seems to be uniquely capable of bringing out the other-worldliness of the original series. D4 is a kinect title that includes several quick-time action sequences. Much like Deadly Premonition, D4 concerns the investigation of an eclectic detective, this time the perpetually disheveled David Young. Young has the ability to time travel (and location travel), and in this short episode you’re investigating a man’s disappearance from a plane midflight. Young is a little less overtly odd than Agent York but he overcompensates by having extremely weird friends, such as his slovenly ex-partner and roommate who believes she’s a cat (there’s a bonkers sequence where you actually have to battle her). In terms of matching Twin Peaks’ ability combine mundane oddball characters against inexplicable elements, nobody seems to match Lynch’s spirit as well as Suerhiro (and there are some spoiler-ish references to the original show to boot).