20 Apr 2017

Five Games to Play While You Wait for Twin Peaks



Warning: there are spoilers for Twin Peaks in this article but spoilers for the games mentioned have been kept to a minimum.

It wouldn't be right to discuss the current television climate without mentioning David Lynch's Twin Peaks. Thanks to the Usenet networking system (and newsgroups such as alt.tv.twinpeaks), the cultural phenomenon was the pinnacle of internet debate, scrutiny and analysis throughout the early '90s and garnered even greater attention once the world wide web became more popular.


The show was a detective mystery focusing on the investigation of a teenage girl's murder, layered between individual stories involving the offbeat townsfolk and enigmatic supernatural elements the town hosted. Helmed by creators David Lynch and Mark Frost, the show received particular critical praise for its juxtaposition of the macabre with the ordinary. It was a soap opera with fantasy horror elements, and it became the pinnacle of '90s cult television.

On May 21st, Lynch and Frost are bringing back Twin Peaks with a limited continuation of 18 episodes to air on Showtime. In case you've already exhausted your box set, here are five videogames to play that took influence from the show.


Deadly Premonition (Access Games)


If you're discussing videogames that have been inspired by Twin Peaks, the first big obvious one to jump to would be Swery's Deadly Premonition. This charming but goofy mystery thriller from 2010 features a storyline almost identical to that of Twin Peaks. A girl is found dead in the small town in which she resides, an FBI agent is sent to investigate and a dark mystery about the area is gradually revealed. Deadly Premonition had to originally change several elements, including its protagonist, in order to avoid the glaring comparisons to Twin Peaks, but that still didn't stop fans from immediately noticing the similarities.

Upon first loading up Deadly Premonition, you'll become aware of the issues it has; aged graphics, animation issues and particularly weird moments in cutscenes. In my opinion, this is the heart of the game's charm, just like how Twin Peaks had its oddities through Cooper's interactions with the town's affairs. One thing I really love is the protagonist (York) delivers asides to an unseen character known as Zach, similar to Cooper's tape recordings to Diane.


There are survival horror combat sequences inspired by Resident Evil 4's over-shoulder style gunplay, which is fiddly at best but features a creepy atmosphere that feels more J-horror than Lynchian, but it's a mood that Twin Peaks never tried to achieve.


Stardew Valley (Chucklefish Games)


For stories set in small towns, one thing you have to portray is the idyllic sense of community. Twin Peaks has a population of 51,201, but the subplots each followed a sample of the same two dozen or so characters. It gave the illusion of the town being smaller than reality, but with the added benefit of highlighting the close bond each member had with each other.

The farming sim Stardew Valley also carries such a sensation. A modern interpretation of the classic Harvest Moon games, the player moves into the small town of Stardew Valley to receive a plot of land with the intention of thriving a farm on the land. During the player's time in Stardew Valley, they'll interact with the citizens of the town, play minigames and assimilate the habituation. This is much like how Cooper adapts within Twin Peaks as he spends time with the locals and learns about their relationships, their jobs, their likes and dislikes.

There's no murder mystery or creepy dancing dwarfs in Stardew Valley, but the player will warmly accommodate as Cooper does.


Life is Strange (Dontnod Entertainment)


One of the many subjects of Twin Peaks was the theme of adolescence and the personal relationships between its teenage characters. There was the love triangle between Donna, James and Maddy, the development of Audrey from femme fatale to successful businesswoman, and the constant revelations of Laura's experiences with drug use, sexual abuse and prostitution, all while the strange events of the murder unfold around them.

Similarly, Life is Strange focuses on the bond between two teenage girls brought together by a mysterious force that gives Max, the protagonist, a superpower to manipulate time itself. Alongside that, they investigate the disappearance of another girl from the school, Rachel Amber. There are an abundance of Twin Peaks references littered throughout the game; the Everyday Heroes contest mirrors the Miss Twin Peaks show, Rachel Amber is almost a 1:1 parallel with Laura Palmer, and the nightmare sequence in the final episode harks back to the scene in the Black Lodge at the end of the show's second season.

Life is Strange is essentially a point-and-click game with some light adventure elements, making it an easy title for the non-gamer Twin Peaks fans to enjoy.


Mizzurna Falls (Human Entertainment)


"What's Mizzurna Falls?", I hear you ask. Not to worry, it's a very obscure Japanese game for the Sony PlayStation that even predates Silent Hill. In a small Colorado town, separate investigations into the discovery of a girl's corpse and another girl's disappearance are eventually linked, and it's up to high school student Matthew Williams to uncover the nature of such events. It immediately reminds oneself of the subplot in Twin Peaks as James and Donna conduct their own investigation into Laura's murder.

Mizzurna Falls is surprisingly complex for a 19-year-old PS1 game. It features a day-night cycle, which determines how and where NPCs can be found. Stores open and close, characters follow a daily routine, and the town can be explored in a fairly expansive environment. Not only that, but one key element of Mizzurna Falls is its focus on time-sensitive events. If Matthew does not complete his investigation fast enough, he may miss essential incidents that reveal significant information, or he may even fail the entire case, giving the player a bad ending.

The game is incredible for a 1998 title, which saddens me that it received such an incognito release.

Alan Wake (Remedy Entertainment)


"Alan, wake up."

Just like the other games mentioned in this article, Alan Wake features a mystery needing to be uncovered in a small Northwestern American town. Often billed as Twin Peaks meets Stephen King, the player is Alan Wake, a bestselling author suffering from writer's block, who comes to the small town of Bright Falls to recuperate and forget his work. Dark things happen, and Alan soon finds himself on the run from the police as he chases a supernatural entity in order to find his missing wife, Alice.

During each episode in Alan Wake the player encounters monsters of darkness, and must use light such as that from flashlights and flares to dispel them, while also trying to solve the investigation into Alice's disappearance. It can get quite repetitive, but I believe the plot is interesting enough to keep the player engaged until the end. The characters are truly special, with one even being a direct reference to Twin Peaks' Log Lady.

It was the first game that inspired me to become a writer. I played it on launch, around the time I had started my GCSEs. I adored the characters and I got into reading more about Stephen King's writing methods which aided in my discovery of how fun it can be. Really, I owe a lot to Remedy Entertainment and Alan Wake.


If you're a Twin Peaks fan but haven't played these games, I would recommend doing so straight away. The show returns for a third season, over 25 years later, on May 21st, so that's plenty of time to solve small town murders and interact with bizarre locals. I'd like to thank the developers of each game for providing me with these hours of entertainment, and I'd also like to give a huge thanks to David Lynch and Mark Frost for creating the legacy that inspired them.

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