Feature

Eight Games Inspired By Twin Peaks' Weirdness

by Tim Turi on Apr 06, 2015 at 01:00 PM

David Lynch's celebrated TV series, Twin Peaks, is in the news right now - but for all the wrong reasons. Showtime announced it would be picking up a third season of the quirky murder-mystery series last year, complete with the original cast, which got Lynch's followers hopeful for a return to the titular town. Much to their dismay, this week Lynch officially announced he left the project due to budgetary concerns. The collective cry that Twin Peaks is not Twin Peaks without both original creators David Lynch and Mark Frost at the helm can be heard loud and clear. The creators' surreal vision for the absurd drama is so unique and alluring that its influence has naturally seeped its way into the minds of game developers for decades. Today it's uncertain whether Lynch will ever return to Twin Peaks (Showtime wants him back), but to celebrate the show's lasting legacy we examine its impact on a handful of games all about outsiders entering peculiar closed communities.

Max Payne
Remedy Entertainment's love of Twin Peaks starts well before Alan Wake began writing his pulpy detective thrillers. The early Max Payne games feature a few TV sets playing crudely portrayed shows, one of which is fictional '90s cult series Address Unknown. Smooth, unsettling jazz underscores a story about a missing woman, an enigmatic serial killer, and a city that seems to mysteriously shift its identity - all touchstones from Twin Peaks. Further sealing the deal is a talking pink flamingo with distorted vocals, similar to the backwards-talking man from Twin Peaks. In case that's too ambiguous for you, the show also contains a room with a black-and-while zigzagging floor bordered by red curtains, exactly like Twin Peaks' iconic Black Lodge.

Alan Wake
Max Payne's in-game Address Unknown series borrows heavily from Twin Peaks' imagery, whereas Remedy's Alan Wake also shows broader thematic influence. Alan is a writer struggling to top his previous success, so he and his wife steal away to a quiet mountain town in Washington called Bright Falls. The setting is almost identical to that of Twin Peaks. Early on, Alan has a strange encounter with Bright Falls' bizarre townsfolk. The Oh Deer diner scene oozes Lynch, with coffee-obsessed patrons, decrepit old rock stars, and a prophetic old lady clutching a lantern that would look right at home in Twin Peaks' Double R Diner if she swapped the light out for a log. The references run even deeper, including a Sheriff's Department that's nearly identical to the one in Lynch's show, a locket strikingly similar to Laura Palmer's, and a plot thread involving a doppelganger.

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
Link's first portable adventure sticks out like one of the series' cracked walls amidst these other entries. However, the development team for Link's Awakening admits that Twin Peaks, which was popular around the time the game was developed, influenced the goofy townsfolk. According to this Iwata Asks interview, Nintendo developers packed Koholint Island with a cast of suspicious, goofy characters. The aim was to compensate for a lack of NPCs by making them intriguing and deep. Additionally, the dreamlike vibe of the game is also a nod to David Lynch's serialized cult classic.

Mizzurna Falls
Similar to Alan Wake, this Japanese-only game by Human Entertainment (Clock Tower series) takes place in the fictional Colorado town of Mizzurna Falls. The town is bordered by snowy trees and mountains, setting a tone remarkably familiar to Twin Peaks fans. The story even kicks off with dual mysteries, one concerning a missing girl and another involving a woman apparently mauled to death by a bear. The open-world adventure lets players talk to the curious NPCs as they please. The people available to talk to even changes with the day/night cycle, encouraging players to learn the residents' routines. It also introduces a police station and greasy spoon diner setting early on, cementing Lynch's obvious influence on the game.

Up next: A couple newer titles inspired by Twin Peaks and the king of them all..

 

Kentucky Route Zero
This episodic point-and-click adventure (currently three of the five acts have been released) begins with a lost delivery truck driver trying to drop off an antique. The story twists, turns, and folds in on itself as it progresses. The focus is on storytelling and selecting dialogue options while chatting up intriguing Kentuckians. One scene comes across as a direct reference to Twin Peaks, in which a lone singer delivers a haunting, transformative show similar to Julee Cruise's performance of Twin Peaks' "Falling" (which is also the title song of the show).

Virginia
Variable Studios' Twin Peaks-esque adventure game isn't out until next year, but Lynch's influence is readily apparent. Two FBI agents look into the mysterious disappearance of a little boy in Virginia. In addition to borrowing inspiration from Twin Peaks' premise, it also takes place around the same time in the '90s. One of Virginia's biggest departures from Lynch's TV series is in the characters' performances. Twin Peaks features a colorful cast of weirdos with odd speaking cadences and verbal ticks, but Variable Studios is relying entirely on pantomime to convey the story of Virginia.

Silent Hill Series
This classic Konami horror game draws influence from many films and books of the genre, from The Mist's creepy fog to the unsettling jittering heads of Jacob's Ladder. The general vibe of the town also feels close to Twin Peaks as well. Whether you're Harry Mason searching for his lost daughter or James Sutherland looking for his dead wife, the early Silent Hill titles nail the mysterious small town feel. The odd characters filling out the game would also fit into David Lynch's TV show, like a calm nurse that seems a little too casual about all the monstrosities roaming the streets, or a scantily dressed stanger who looks exactly like the protagonist's ex-wife. The references are less overt than a room filled with red curtains, but they're out in the open to the vigilant.

Deadly Premonition
Other games featured in this article may have many similarities to Twin Peaks, but Hidetaka "Swery" Suehiro's Deadly Premonition is the closest we get to a direct imitation. When the game was originally revealed under the title Rainy Woods, the trailer featured two oddly speaking dwarves in suits and a Sheriff that looked startlingly close to Twin Peaks' Sheriff Harry S. Truman. After changing the name to Deadly Premonition, the suited dwarves were replaced with eerie twin boys, and Sheriff Woodman was given the manliest of mustaches.

Even with these changes in place, Deadly Premonition is as close to a straight-up Twin Peaks game as we've ever gotten. Like special agent Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks, Francis York Morgan is a government agent trying to uncover the truth behind the murder of a young woman. Along the way, he sees visions of her in his dreams and she offers investigatory advice. Further emboldening the line between the two protagonists, York has a strong obsession with coffee and frequently talks to an imaginary presence named Zach (analogous to Cooper's Diane).

Greenvale is also home to a smattering of bizarre characters that are only a few degrees away from copyright infringement territory. The bumbling, effeminate sheriff's assistant Thomas is similar to a character named Andy in Twin Peaks. The Log Lady from Lynch's show is practically the same in Deadly Premonition, except she's called the Pot Lady and is constantly fretting over her cookware. The list goes on and on, but I think you get the picture. If you're a fan of Deadly Premonition and haven't seen Twin Peaks, or vice versa, you owe it to yourself to check them both out. Swery's cult hit is like one of the almost-there doppelgangers from Lynch's work. 

These are just a few of the more obvious examples of Twin Peaks inspiring video games. Any favorites of yours that we missed? Share in the comments below.