Year: 1995
Platform: PlayStation
Developer: Warp
Genre: Horror/puzzle
Rating: **

After playing Warp's "D2" (1999), I decided to check out the original "D." It's an unrelated game, but the main character is also named Laura (Laura Harris) and she also carries a magical compact. Trouble erupts when Laura's father, a respected doctor, goes berzerk and slaughters a bunch of patients in a hospital. Laura rushes to the scene to figure out what's wrong and gets caught up in a bizarre alternate reality full of traps and puzzles. Laura has two hours of real time to make her way through a creepy castle and get to her dad, who reveals to her the terrible truth about her lineage.

The game is essentially an FMV puzzle game like "Myst" or "The Seventh Guest", except with Warp's own demented sensibilities. It uses a nav-based or rail navigation system, where you can only move to predetermined points. There is also no ability to dynamically look around at your surroundings, since everything is prerendered. For the time when it came out, the graphics are very good, although Laura herself is rather unappealing. The music is very nicely done and adds to the ambience considerably. The puzzles are downright dastardly, and many of them don't make any sense. It's very easy to get stuck and not know what to do (like in the wheel house, for example). However, the biggest flaw with the game is the gameplay itself. You're given two hours to complete the game, and running out of time is the only way to lose. Unfortunately, if you don't finish the game the first or second time you play it, you're not going to have a lot of motivation to sit down for another two hours and watch all of the same cinematics over again (especially since you can't click past them). You also can't pause or save your game, so you have to have a dedicated chunk of time set aside to play. This seriously affects the replay value and overall enjoyment of the game, and it can become tiresome very quickly. But the story and the visuals are engaging enough to make the journey at least once.