D. A game perhaps best remembered for its surreal plot, heavy use of cinematics and poorly aged visuals. It came out at the height of FMV adventure and survival horror popularity, so it’s no surprise that D plays like a combination of the two. Yet unlike many others of its kind, D presents a highly psychological narrative centered on healing. Where its cinematics tell the story of a woman wanting to run away from her guilt, its design provides a means by which she might move past that trauma.
That’s certainly not how the game begins. Instead, it opens with famed doctor Richter Harris committing a mass murder at an Los Angeles Hospital and using the survivors as hostages. Getting wind of this, his daughter, Laura Harris, immediately comes to the hospital to confront him on the matter.
Within moments of entering the hospital, she’s unexpectedly whisked away to a Spencer Mansion-style house. Now it is her task to push through to the end and meet with her father, ignoring both his constant pleas to leave and the slowly-revealed memories of her killing and eating her mother.
Given that most of D takes place in the house, I think it’s important that we give it a very close reading. It wavers between presenting itself as a normal home and as a decrepit dungeon. It’s not uncommon for Laura to leave a dining room and enter a prison cell containing a skeleton.
Yet it’s the house’s sense of normalcy that has me most interested. Even in a bedroom or a dining room, there are no windows to be seen, and each room is so small that the walls threaten to close in on Laura at every turn. Essentially, the house’s normalcy constantly scares Laura. And why shouldn’t it? It resembles the home where she committed a terrible murder. It’s understandable that Laura would want to run away from that.
This is especially true in light of her relationship with her parents, and how the house reflects that. Remember that before the hostage crisis, Richter Harris was a famed doctor; a person tasked with saving lives and protecting the innocent. Until this incident, this was the father that Laura knew. So to suddenly catch wind of what he has done would understandably rupture her understanding of the world.