I’m glad Access Games builds off of the Telltale adventure game model. I find it is more intuitive than old school point-and-click collectathons. D4 offers enough unique content and design that I would avoid writing it off, but it is clearly building off existing works.

I have a confession to make, Dark Dreams Don’t Die and Crimson Dragon were the first games to get me interested in owning an Xbox One. I like Halo and Gears just fine, but given the popularity of shooters I rarely find myself without one to play. Arzak inspired scrolling shooters and psychedelic detective mysteries aren’t exactly a dime a dozen in the current game market. With Crimson Dragon being the dud it is, I had begun to feel more desperate.

D4 is the latest title from Access Games, an independent Japanese video game studio founded by a man who goes by Swery 65. If you haven’t heard of them, that’s because the only other game they have released in the last decade is “Deadly Premonition”, a low-budget open-world horror game. D4 isn’t any less weird than Access’s previous offering, but it’s enjoyable parts are distilled into a more approachable, streamlined, and consistently entertaining experience.

The game is centered around the life of David Young, a private detective who has the ability to travel through time and space with the aid of sentimental items the game calls “mementos”. David’s wife passed away several years ago, and he has no recollection of the events leading up to her death. Eager to find out what happened, Detective Young has enlisted the help of his obese older partner and a cat, who is trapped in a woman’s body… I think.

This already ludicrous premise sets the game up to explore equally strange and interesting vignettes. Characters are all bold, though some are stronger than others. David’s apartment is filled with interesting and tolerable enough folk, but your own patience for them will probably vary based on your own opinion of Japanese Anime. Voice acting for characters isn’t ever quite as bad as your average anime dub, but some of it gets close, especially for a certain fashion forward character.

D4 doesn’t just wave its characters in front of you to prove its weirdness. They are all integral to the story and design of the game. It’s one thing to have one-off weirdos in your game, it’s another thing entirely to weave a story around each of their bizarre personalities and broken logic. Many offer side-quests with credits as a reward, though I rarely found I needed more than I already had on hand.

The comic book art style looks good, and the music is atmospheric. Overall it is a well presented package, exceeding my expectations of what fifteen dollars can buy on the Xbox Storefront. I was especially surprised given that this game was published by Microsoft Studios, an in-house publisher with a history of tacking microtransactions onto games.

This game is clearly designed to be played on the Kinect. It’s interface and exploration are clearly designed for it. I ran a few problems with the same Kinect detection issues that I normally do when playing Kinect-centric games. While these are not the developers fault, they interrupt the flow of the game, take me out of the moment and bring down the overall gameplay experience. You can use a controller, but flailing around to the rhythm of these cartoonish scenes is plain, stupid fun. Controllers don’t lend themselves to the atmosphere of excitement these scenes try to create.

While most of the time I had an easy enough time navigating the game world with the Kinect, using menus often frustrated. The cursor feels sticky, and pushes and pulls are not always read correctly. It isn’t necessarily the games fault, but Kinect controls do occasionally get in the way.

Puzzles do not ask you to get into the twisted mind of your average adventure game designer. Access seems to have worked out their need for irreverence through the story. Every component of these puzzles are laid out in front of you from the get go. They only ever ask you to solve problems the way you might in real life. At no point does Access sacrifice design principles at the altar of auteurism, and they deserve credit.

Exploring the game world is a pleasure. Environments are dense and believable, characters have a lot to say, and floor plans are simple. The gamey parts of D4 feel well thought out and well edited, even if the story itself is the result of writers who toss in everything they can think off and the kitchen sink. Achievement and setting menus can be accessed through the main menu, or by going through David Young’s belongings, a charming feature that feels distinct to Japanese adventure games.

Overall D4 is a charming experience. It doesn’t make ton of sense, but the gameplay holds up, and it’s extremely entertaining. D4 has a much broader appeal than Deadly Premonition. At fifteen USD, I would recommend this to any adventure game fan, not just Swery 65 fans.