As far as Wikipedia is concerned, D/Generation is an action adventure game with puzzle elements. I suppose that’s mostly true, although after playing through the game I think it’d be more apt to call it an adventure puzzle game with action elements, but hey, who’s nit-picking?
Well, I suppose I am, being a critic and all, but since the game revolves primarily around careful observation and movement, learning your way through a labyrinthine facility’s floors with only minimal focus on using a laser to blast things, “adventure puzzle” certainly does feel like a more appropriate label.
That aside, D/Generation HD is a rather impressive remake of the original 1991 computer game. While the graphics aren’t astonishing compared to some higher end independent games, they still make a startling transition from the original pixels of its predecessor to now. There are some nice, if subtle effects, too, like wall transparencies that make it easier to navigate each room and avoid the deadly traps scattered about them. I never played the original game, but in doing my research for this review I observed that the remake seems quite faithful in its adaptation of the original levels, modernized for a re-release. The models and effects are similarly decent, being another visual element that shows off the inevitable leap forward in technology that two decades has brought, even without all of the bells and whistles of a high end engine like Unreal applied.
Beyond that, it’s hard to grade D/Generation HD’s graphics and sound since everything is relatively basic compared to its modern peers, while at the same time being a rather obvious technological leap from 1991. The backgrounds and models are by no stretch bad, simply bland and somewhat texture-less by comparison. There’s no complex lighting or bump-mapping I really noticed, nothing that made me stop and marvel at the visual design. I certainly didn’t find it offensive, but my reaction was less one of slack-jawed awe and more appropriately only a nod of acceptance. The sound effects are similarly uninspiring, with what seems to be a very stock palette of effects like explosions, electrical zaps and laser noises. Yet, I again feel compelled to say that none of this is bad, per se, simply not the best possible visual and audible presentation you can expect in 2015/16.
That’s simply the graphics and sound, however, and where it matters the most, the gameplay, D/Generation’s HD remake remains as purely focused on puzzles and adventure as before. While there certainly is a story to be found here, told in an opening cut-scene and then more subtly through dialogue with NPCs you can rescue or computer terminals you can examine, the game focuses primarily on advancing from floor to floor, through a series of rooms, all to deliver a package to your client amidst a bioweapon catastrophe. Who knew being a courier could be so dangerous, and who knew couriers were so dedicated to their job? I wonder if UPS would deliver Amazon shipments to a war zone…?
The various traps you can expect to encounter are turrets, electrified floors, lasers, and a whole host of various bioweapons eager to turn you into easily digestible soup. While some of these obstacles can be simply shot, most have to be navigated around or turned off with a trickily-positioned button somewhere else in the room you’re exploring. One false step and you’re a goner, but there are a handful of tools and weapons at your disposal to get you through unscathed. It’s all quite fun to explore and discover, but unfortunately the perspective can sometimes make this more difficult. While the walls fade into transparency when you get close to them, it’s only when you get close to them, which means trying to find your way around the room without hugging a wall will more often than not result in stepping on an electrified floor panel. Whether or not obscuring something from the player is tricky or cheap is up to you, but I found it more frustrating than I would’ve liked. Often times it felt akin to being punished for what I had no cue to know to avoid.
D/Generation HD isn’t an especially long game (give or take a few hours for your competency with navigation or penchant for exploration) and there’s little to bring you back to it after your first run through, but there are a handful of potentially inspiring achievements to prompt another playthrough for you playing pleasure. One achievement tasks you with rescuing every NPC, while another tasks you with killing them all, for example, and you definitely can’t cheese both of those out of a single game. For fans of adventure games and exploration, D/Generation’s remake is a great, fun time, but like most adventure games, it’s a one-and-done for everyone but the achievement hunters.
Score – 7/10
Review code supplied by Microsoft Xbox.