David Lynch and Mark Frost were decades ahead of their time with the creepy appointment TV epic Twin Peaks, taking us to a world that was equal parts soap opera, murder mystery, and cheese dream. The recent final season took things even further off the rails, raising as many questions as it answered. Fortunately, if you want to poke your head back into the darkness surrounding Laura Palmer’s death, there’s a game for that.
Well, technically, there are two.
The game released this month comes to us directly from Showtime and Collider Games, with David Lynch at the steering wheel. Fans can navigate through venues and events from all eras of the series, picking up Easter eggs along the way. The play time comes out to approximately half an hour — which is great if you want an immersive experience to revisit, but whether that warrants a $10 Steam price tag will depend on just how in need of new Twin Peaks content you’re feeling.
If you’re an avid fan of the series and feeling a little bit of deja vu right about now, you’re not imagining things. While this is the first official Twin Peaks VR experience, it’s not the first ever made… and not even the only one made within the last year or two.
In 2018, director and video game programmer Orly Rodriguez released The Archivist: A VR Experience. Rodriguez, together with a team of like-minded freelancers and coworkers, produced the experience as Nothing Like You Productions. Twin Peaks fansite 25 Years Later interviewed Rodriguez about the process as it was underway, funded by donations on Patreon. The unlicensed work featured entirely fan-made assets, including voice acting.
The plot was meant to loop around and through all iterations of the series, rather than pinning itself to one specific event. Players took on the role of an FBI agent sent to investigate strange goings-on in the town of Twin Peaks. Heading their operation was a mysterious figure known as “The Archivist,” lending their name to the experience.
The VR project was funded to completion, and ended up doing very well for itself in 2018. It was an official selection at the Miami International Sci Fi Film Festival, and garnered two nominations at the Raindance Film Festival in London.
Where is it now? In the wake of the official Twin Peaks VR experience, The Archivist seems to be primarily archival. You can poke around on YouTube and find tutorials, beta tests, and trailers; but with Showtime’s version now on Steam, we’re unlikely to see it continue. Understandable, as the new game has David Lynch’s entire oversight, but at least the fan-created visuals live on in YouTube videos.
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As for the official version, reviews are mixed. The game dropped on Friday the 13th (appropriately enough) to equal parts excitement, disappointment, and overall “meh.” Some enjoy the experience, while others don’t consider it evolved or in-depth enough to warrant the pricing. Some fans were in with early critiques of the trailer, noting details such as the Black Lodge’s floor being black and white rather than very dark brown and very pale cream. To the developers’ credit, they apparently patched this prior to release.
If you have ten bucks, a VR headset, and an itching to return to the world of Twin Peaks, you can do that now on Steam.