News Article

News Article

From 'Eraserhead to 'Alan Wake': The Influence of David Lynch on Gaming

When it comes to personalities in cinema, there's no one quite like David Lynch.  Lynch's body of work runs the gamut from weird sci-fi (Dune) to really weird surrealism (Eraserhead) with plenty of movies in between that flay the skin off of wholesome suburban life to reveal the pulsing, horrible truth underneath.  His movies are rife with fantastic imagery, colorful characters, and provocative themes that transcend the time periods that they represent.

It's no wonder that, with such provocative filmmaking, Lynch's inspiration has crossed over to other forms of media, even gaming.  With the upcoming release of Alan Wake's American Nightmare seeing a return of the titular hero that cribs liberally from Lynch, we here at FEARnet decided to take a look back at the other examples of Lynch's influence on gaming.

Alan Wake

While the meat of the gameplay of Alan Wake was a deliberate, suspenseful shooter, its Washington backdrop of the town of Bright Falls was a sly, winking tribute to Twin Peaks.  The encroaching pine trees choking the small town, as well as the cast of peculiar characters that inhabited it (the obsessed waitress, the aging Viking-rock gods) seem ripped from a third season of Twin Peaks that we never got to see. 

Deadly Premonition

If Alan Wake was a love letter to Twin Peaks, Deadly Premonition is the obsessive, rambling note of devotion signed in blood.  From the opening frames of the game (seen below), the game makes no attempts to hide its inspiration: the discovery of a crucified corpse seems only a sheet of plastic away from the discovery of the body of Laura Palmer.  It continues from there, with FBI agent Francis York Morgan taking part in bizarre exchanges with colorful locals (the "Sinner's Sandwich" scene is worth the cost of admission alone) in between harrowing combat with J-horror wraiths.

Harvester

Easily the most obscure game on the list, Harvester came at the tail end of the full-motion video boom that came with the CD-ROM era of PC gaming.  Players are cast as Steve, an amnesiac who wakes up in the small town of Harvest, where he starts to peel back the idyllic layers of suburbia to discover the gruesome truth behind Harvest and its mysterious Lodge.  While lacking in the subtlety of Lynch's work (just look at the awkward exchange over a spinal cord below), it crafted a hilariously trashy parody of the themes present in both Twin Peaks and Blue Velvet.

Black Lodge

A strange fanmade game that aped the look and feel of an Atari 2600 title, Black Lodge was the closest thing to a "genuine" Lynch game we'll probably ever see.  Players guided Agent Dale Cooper through the hideously-rendered hallways of the titular Black Lodge, on the run from his Doppelganger and encountering citizens of Twin Peaks, complete with atrocious computerized voiceovers. 

Bonus: "Bambi"

Back when Sony's marketing company was insistent on putting out commercials that literally made no sense in the context of the product (anyone remember those terrifying baby head commercials for the PS3?), Lynch was tapped for a weirdly irrelevant ad featuring a meeting between an automobile and a fawn.  Even with the tagline of "Different Place, Different Rules" tying the whole thing together, it's still a confusing, peculiar ad dripping with Lynch weirdness.

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