Black Lodge 2600 is the Best Twin Peaks Video Game You Never Played
The fan game is a tightrope walk. You want to grab the core base, but you don't want to cheapen things by going for the easy cuts. It has to simultaneously be obscure yet instantly recognizable, while also not feeling like it panders to the audience. 2011's Black Lodge 2600 walks this line with the utmost grace and finesse.
Designer Jak Locke and his team fully commit to the source material, having created a faux website in a mid-90's style to advertise the game, which weaves a creepy tale of "an advanced Atari VCS cartridge slated for release called 'Black Lodge.'" It's all done very well, both separating and connecting the game to the show off which it's based in a way that's spooky without seeming corny.
As for the game itself, Black Lodge 2600 puts you in the well-polished shoes of Special Agent Dale Cooper as you navigate the titular Black Lodge, collecting points and avoiding certain death at the hands of your evil doppelganger. There's quite a bit of walking from room to room and dodging obstacles, but the haunting atmosphere makes this less a chore and more a nervous exploration. Complete with a PDF manual in the style of an old Atari game, Black Lodge 2600 sets a foot in both Twin Peaks and the Atari 2600 by using the antique graphics and sound of Atari's heyday to its advantage, creating a disturbing atmosphere that tributes the last (and only really good) episode of Twin Peaks Season 2, in which Cooper enters the nightmarish red room.
The game is an absolute minefield of Twin Peaks references, complete with a chiptune take on soul singer Jimmy Scott's "Sycamore Trees," but it fortunately never delivers the secondhand embarrassment that you would expect; this game had such potential to be a constant wink at the camera, but instead it says its piece and leaves before any such mistakes can be made. There's also a special bonus scene to unlock if you hit a certain point threshold, and without spoiling anything, it's absolutely worth your time f you like what you've been reading.
This game was released seven years ago and it's honestly a shame that it disappeared as quickly as it arrived. Even if you aren't a Twin Peaks fan, this game is worth playing just to be immersed in the alien world that is the Black Lodge.