Posted 3 years ago By - Zach R.
Once in a while, a game comes along that’s destined for greatness. I’m not talking about the games fashioned for success by big name companies with triple A budgets and industry defining innovation. Moreso a game that’s success is greater than the sum of its parts.
Deadly Premonition by Access Software falls neatly into this niche area of gaming. It’s a game that never pretends to be something more than it is which makes it all the more likeable for it.
If you’re around the age of thirty, you’re probably going to notice that Deadly Premonition has more than a passing resemblence to the David Lynch TV series, Twin Peaks. The main character, Agent Francis "York" Morgan, is the perfect eccentric character who’d be right at home in a Lynch flick. He has odd dreams about angel children dropping cryptic clues, talks to his split personality, Zach, and receives visions in his morning coffee. Oh, and he also fights zombies that may or may not be real. If any of that sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is, but in an endearing and decidedly entertaining way.
In fact, it’s these aspects, and the storyline itself that really keep the game from becoming the kind of stereotypical drivel you’d expect from a budget-priced game. You see, the gameplay isn’t its strong suit. In fact, most of the gameplay is extremely derivative of other, more established, franchises. Deadly Premonition borrows heavily from Silent Hill, Clocktower, and the combat system feels directly lifted from Resident Evil. While the homages to these games are all satisfactory in their implementation, the combination makes for sub-par gameplay overall.
That said, there are so many elements that work here. The offbeat sense of humour, while completely inappropriate at times, manages to offset the darker moments. While investigating crime scenes, York will start conversing with Zach about Oliva Newton-John, or Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, and DVD features on 80’s releases. It’s entirely out of place and yet it’s an effect method to keep you wrapped up in the game for hours.
Of course, those aren’t the only things that will have you hooked, as searching for clues, interogating witnesses and generally going about the business of a typical man-about-town will keep you busy for hours. By far the most interesting aspect of the game is York’s profiling ability. Finding clues will lead to visions of the crime played out in your mind. While finding the clues can be a bit tedious, as it essentially plays out like a dungeon crawler, you’d be hard pressed to simply let the clues go. There’s a driving need to find the next clue, regardless of how ridiculous frustrating it is to get to. Fixing elevators, finding keycards, it’s all stuff you’ve seen and done before. In fact, it’s been done to death, but it’s still worth it to press forward so you can unlock the next sequence of York’s vision.
What’s really out there about the game is the need for York to live his life like a semi-normal human being. He has to go through the same daily grind we all do. When he’s hungry, he has to eat. When he’s sleepy, he’ll grab some shut eye almost anywhere he can, including in sheds near a crime scene. He will shave, fill his car with gas, and if he’s not scheduled to meet with a suspect for a while, maybe do some fishing, check out the local haunts, or just drive around aimlessly until it’s time for his appointment.
The big problem with the game isn’t the tedious nature of the dungeon crawls, or the aimless wandering while waiting for missions to trigger, it’s the fact that the game goes out of its way to alienate anyone who doesn’t have a penchant for the strange. While the investigation York is conducting is the primary focus of the game, the eccentric nature of the town and the main character himself will be off-putting to anyone without an above-average appreciation for B-movies and TV shows.
Graphics & Sound
Considering the game was actually started years ago, it’s a little understandable that the visuals look so dated. Though, an overhaul would have been nice as the overall graphical feel wouldn’t feel out of place on the original Xbox. Colours are washed-out and character animations are incredibly stiff. It’s a budget game that looks like a budget game.
The sound is absolutely fitting for the game, however. From mournful ballads, to wildly inappropriate jazz, the soundtrack is as eccentric as the characters in the game. Voice-work is B-movie quality all the way, but it works here. By far the best aspect of the sound are the noises that the "zombie-like" creatures make. It’s simply a recording that’s been slowed down and run through a filter, but it’s incredibly eerie in spite of its simplicity.
The game is priced around $25 Canadian, and while the production values and gameplay reflect that price, the game itself defies that with the campiness of the plot and humour and a 20+ hour campaign. That said, this game is not for everyone. You really need to be able to embrace the bizarre nature of the game to really get anything out of it. If you like your games to take themselves a little more seriously, you may want to sit this one out.
In spite of some broken gameplay, the characterizations, campy writing, and a driving need to find out what happens next make Deadly Premonition a title that transcends the definition of what a budget game should be. It’s a sure-fire cult hit.
+ Amazing value for the price
+ References to pop-culture are golden
+ Storyline is absurd, but pulls you in
+ Sound is so bad, it’s good
- Gameplay is ho-hum
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Release Date : 2010/02/23
System : Xbox 360
Publisher : Ignition Entertainment
Developer : Access Software
Category : Survival Horror
ESRB : M
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
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