2nd December 2010 - The following review is for the little-know game, Deadly Premonition. It is both the single most difficult-to-review game I have had the pleasure of scoring, as well as the best yet at the same time, worst game I had played this generation. Its boundaries push the envelope in every direction, up and down, and I guarantee you is one of the strangest interactive entertainment pieces you will ever (or never) play. Deadly Premonition is, by the very definition of the word, insane.
Meet Special Agent Francis York Morgan. But call him York… Everyone else does. You play York as he is unfortunately assigned to a murder case in the middle of nowhere - the small town of Greenvale. It all looks calm at first, but as the game continues, the innocent civilians of Greenvale, the dark history of the town, violent creatures and so much more unveil themselves to be much more than meets the eye. As a new breed of serial killer lurks in the shadows, how far will Agent York go to do what’s right and put a stop to the madness? Its truly a great story, one that could easily be crafted out by any great thriller novelist or film-maker. So feel lucky that its us gamers that get to experience it.
But is the story all this game has going for it? Some would scream YES! at the top of their lungs at this very notion, but I would have to jump in to defend the helpless title. To be fair though, as a reviewer I must point out the obvious flaws of the game. Bare with me people, because this list would be long. Let me start by pointing out the unbearably terrible controller scheme. Even after hours of play, the shocking controls for movement and action, as well as most other aspects of the games controls are outright crud. Bar the vehicular controls, there isn’t an easy press to be seen. Moving on from the controls, it obvious this game would have better suited last generation, back when it was okay for games to take forever to load and freeze up, tear and lag far too often. This is one of the worst things about Deadly Premonition and is almost a solid deal breaker. The list of mistakes, both small and great, with the game could go on and on, but lets move on before I completely turn you away from this once-in-a-lifetime video game.
Personally, ive always held strong to the belief that be it bad or terrible, a game always has some entertainment value. They should be judged on the enjoyment you get from them, considering they’re developed entertainment for the masses to enjoy. And Deadly Premonition, while it may be lacking in places (most places!), is so much fun to the open minded gamer. Of course, it still takes a special type of gamer to enjoy this misadventure. For starters, Agent York is downright mental. He’s nut-job and throughout the entire game, this is crystal clear; talking to himself, to his split-personality, and to make it even more obvious are the words he manages to spurt out of his mouth. I cant tell if the developers were trying to be funny or serious most of the time, but the whole game is full of utterly hilarious dialogue from York and the many colourful faces that exploring the massive town of Greenvale introduces you to. If you want your survival horror to actually be full of horror and fright, turn back now folks, because while there is surprisingly some good scares under the hood here, Deadly Premonition should only ever be taken with a fistful of salt.
There are also a lot of small things which makes this game stand out. Apart from the madness that clouds every inch of the thing, Deadly Premonition actually has some great gaming mechanics. It has a bit of everything really; collectables, side-missions, mini-games, easter-eggs - the lot. But it also has some rather odd additives, like fortune telling coffee, working optional windscreen whippers in cars (not to mention working indicators if you wanna be really professional) and even some small Sim-Mechanics, like hunger and energy levels that require eating and sleeping, respectively.
These days, everyone wants shine. Everyone wants glamour and glitz, and usually, we get it. So much so in fact, that when a game with as dated graphics as this comes into play, everyone but the utmost open-minded gamers will shudder in disgust. That’s putting it lightly really, as Deadly Premonition not only feels like a last generation game, but looks like one too. Its seriously very bad, in almost every aspect of this department. The animation for the most part is overly stale; lip-synching is way off, movement is forced and interactivity is minimal. Even the games textures look worse than most original Xbox titles.
Another notable in this department is the games overall style. Not the gameplay, but rather the production design. It reeks of echo’s of old Japanese games like Shenmue and Resident Evil in particular. The item displays, menus, text, everything. While its comforting to see that game culture has stayed relatively the same over the years in some places, it actually very ugly and rings deeply a sense of B-grade production value. I would actually be telling the honest truth to say that this is the worst looking title I have ever played on the Xbox 360. And ive played Two Worlds…
As with the majority of the gameplay in Deadly Premonition - the story, the characters, the mechanics - the game’s sound definitely splits up the audience into those who like and those who don’t. But for the exact reasons those who don’t get on well with what this game has to offer at its core, I love the sound here. Most of it anyway. To be fair, a lot of it is actually quite terrible, namely the voice acting and script to go with it - but those bad actors (or are they actually very good?) and script of ill repute do nothing more than add to the overall extremity of the madness and originality. While that may seem like biased statement based on my love for the game, I assure you its nothing more than an honest observation from a gamer all too familiar with what’s hot-and-in in the gaming industry.
But voice acting isn’t the only favourable approach to sound here, not by a long shot. In a very similar bid to the voice work, Deadly Premonition has an extremely out of place soundtrack for the most part. It features some well strung jazzy and upbeat tunes that often overtone the most dark and sinister moments of the game, which there is plenty of here, trust me.
Deadly Premonition has been diving audiences since its February release overseas and its late October release in Pal territories (except Australia mind you). It’s a given fact that you will either love it or hate it. Hate it? Then it has absolutely no value to you, and you should be glad you can be satisfied with everything that’s ‘in’. Love it? Then its well under-average price tag will have you jumping for joy and loving every moment of the misbegotten adventure that awaits you. Every moment in a rather surprising 15-20 hour adventure full of more quality storytelling than most games can dream of.
Im not going to sugar coat it; some gamers - nay, most gamers, will outright hate this title. The bad production, the bad graphics, the bad gameplay. The bad everything. It will turn heads the other way, stain sheets with horror, belch into the face of dignity, and everything which dictates that Deadly Premonition is a terrible game, will be the very foundation for the those of you strong enough to stand ground during this title who will build a cult following of it. I am one such gamer, and find myself highly attracted to the many shortcomings and pure unique sense of the game. At the same time as being arguably the worst game of the generation, it is also the greatest. Deadly Premonition will go down in history as the first real cult title of gaming’s biggest generation.
I can say Im part of this following. Can you?
AAG SCORE: 5/10
+ Great story and characters
+ Smashingly funny dialogue
+ Utterly insane
- Visually appalling
- Endless supply of issues
- Inarguably bad control scheme
Reviewed and Written By John Elliott