Deadly Premonition – The Director’s Cut review
Developer: Rising Star Games
Developer: Rising Star Games
Note: the reviewer has not played the original Xbox 360 version of Deadly Premonition, and so this review is the result of a first-time playthrough of the updated Director’s Cut. Clearly the reviewer is a jerk.
|The world's creepiest damn smile.|
Deadly Premonition is atrocious, suffering from ugly visuals, shoddy animation and a soundtrack that utterly defies logic.
And I loved every single minute of it.
Deadly Premonition follows FBI Agent Francis York Morgan (just call him York, everyone does that) investigating a string of brutal murders across America (referred to as the Red Seed Murders, as red seeds have been uncovered at each crime scene), finally arriving in the sleepy town Greenvale to investigate the most recent casualty. However, what begins as an ordinary homicide investigation gradually becomes a desperate game of cat-and-mouse with the supernatural evils –both psychological and literal- that haunt the once peaceful town.
The first thing you will notice about Deadly Premonition is the graphical quality. It’s terrible. Characters are animated with over the top cartoonish flourishes (good god, York’s smile scares me), and these are reused many times across the game. Environments incorporate repeatable tiles of ground and poorly modelled vegetation. Visually, this looks like a game that should’ve been made for a PS2 rather than current-generation consoles. Furthermore, while the soundtrack isn’t inherently terrible, and can be used to make some truly scary or emotional moments, Deadly Premonition has a habit of reusing songs in all the wrong places. Don’t believe me? Imagine being at a crime scene of a bloody and horrific murder while this is playing:
By all accounts, Deadly Premonition should be a terrible excuse for a game. And yet, the final product is immensely enjoyable, with both an involving crime story and an excellent example of Survival Horror done right.
Narrative-wise, Deadly Premonition is full of mystery and surprise twists. The game keeps you guessing as you attempt to discover the culprit behind the Red Seed Murders – incorporating characters and story threads that will completely throw you off the trail, then bringing you back with an unsuspecting – yet absolutely logical – revelation near the game’s end. Then the story concludes with yet another turn – again, surprising but not ridiculously illogical – before ending with a melancholic and yet utterly satisfying ending. The first few hours of the plot comes off as ridiculous and nonsensical at times, but successfully wraps up all story threads concisely.
Furthermore, Deadly Premonition’s combat and gameplay creates one of the best examples of classic Survival Horror this generation. In Greenvale’s hallucinatory Otherworld, York can either utilise various melee weapons that degrade with each hit, or else a selection of firearms and scavenged ammunition. The downside to using guns is that York must stand still to aim and fire - a feature borrowed from the Resident Evil series – which can result in harrowing and claustrophobic fights if you don’t remain vigilant. There are even some downright terrifying moments where you must find a hiding place or else flee for your life from Greenvale’s infamous Raincoat Killer. The game can be too generous with supplies and money, and combat isn’t particularly difficult, so you’ll likely have very little difficulty playing through these segments. In an age where major horror games are losing sight of what made them great in the first place, Deadly Premonition is one of the few examples of a genuine Survival Horror experience.
Greenvale is home to a large cast of bizarre and comedically stereotypical characters: Thomas is a camp and slightly effeminate police officer with a talent for baking, Keith is the rock and roll loving owner of the Milk Bar, and Harry is an eccentric gas-masked millionaire with a butler who speaks in rhyme. Many of these characters provide various fetch quests that may yield information on the case, but you can just as easily pass on these without any detrimental impact on the story – and still clock in about 16+ hours of gameplay.
The playable area of Deadly Premonition is surprisingly large, with multiple activities and quests to occupy yourself with. Furthermore, the game also features a real-time day and night cycle - one 24-hour cycle lasting about 8 real-time hours. Certain shops and missions only operate at specific times of the day, so time can easily be accelerated by smoking cigarettes if you’re in a hurry to complete a story segment or quest.
When free-roaming the real-world Greenvale, York must also maintain both his hunger and tiredness levels, managed by consuming food/beverages and finding time to sleep. Generally, these replenish during story missions, so this rarely obstructs gameplay if you’re focused primarily on the main quest.
Despite looking and sounding utterly awful, Deadly Premonition’s immersive plot and rich gameplay make this game absolutely worth playing - even if only to laugh at how poorly it was made. This game only gets a 6/10 from me, but if you’re willing to look past these glaring imperfections, there is a brilliant game here absolutely worth giving a go.
Give Deadly Premonition a chance, and you’ll find yourself immersed in a surprisingly engaging whodunit crime drama that will constantly keep you guessing. Comedy is generally hit-and-miss, but the game can be genuinely terrifying when it wants to be.
Combat is shoddy enough that the game feels like a true survival-horror, even if a little generous with supplies and money. Hunger, tiredness, side missions and a real-time clock compliment the experience without burdening it.
York’s smile is the most terrifying thing ever animated by human hands. Character animations and models are sub-par, and the environment looks like something out of a PS2 era game.
Mostly sub-par acting, with a handful of standout performances. Soundtrack is ok, but is used in all of the wrong places with humorous results.
One playthrough can last about 16 hours, not including side-missions and exploration.
Final Score: 6.0/10.0
Bonus Review: Sinner’s Sandwich
One humorous scene in Deadly Premonition involves the Sinner’s Sandwich: “self-inflicted punishment to atone for past sins” involving turkey meat, strawberry jam and cereal on a white bread sandwich. Naturally, I couldn’t resist trying it out.
We cooked up chopped slices of turkey meat (not turkey loaf, that’s gross) and put it on a sandwich with Special K and Raspberry Jam (strawberry wasn’t available). The result? Not half bad. The jam overpowered the turkey somewhat, so it pretty much tasted like a really crunchy jam sandwich.
8/10, would try again.