It’s been quite a ride for the developer known as “Swery65” and his cult hit, Deadly Premonition. What started as a way-too-obvious homage to Twin Peaks morphed into the game known as Red Seeds Profile in Japan and was finally released as an obscure 360 only title for Western shores back in 2010. That’s when the weirdness began. This is a game that, by most definitions of gaming, should be an absolute failure. Dated graphics, poor controls, off kilter pacing and substandard level design were all on show, almost guaranteeing the game was going to be another Amy. And then a funny thing happened; the sheer charm and odd ball personality of the game won out. And now a few years later, its available on the PS3 for Western gamers.
Agent York Is On The Case
Deadly Premonition is what happens when Twin Peaks meets Grand Theft Auto by way of Salvador Dali if he were raised in Japan and got into game development. Saying the game is an “open world mystery set in a small town” doesn’t begin to accurat5ely convey how bizarre this experience is. As FBI agent Francis “York” Morgan, players are tasked with finding out who killed town darling Anne Graham. York arrives, the game gets afoot and weirdness abounds as a kooky cast of characters, random tangents and lateral turns of plot ensue.
This is billed as a “director’s cut,” although in truth, the changes to the game are minor and not always welcome. The graphics were never great to begin with, but surprisingly, in making the jump to HD with increased resolution, the frame rate has taken a noticeable hit. The unfortunate performance drop aside, the game still presents mostly as people remember it. There’s also a bit of occasional stutter to the audio now, but that aside the sound remains intact, so the iconic whistling tune and York’s 80s film trivia monologues remain in their original low quality glory.
For veterans, there are some new touches, including additional cut scenes that add a little bit more to the story, the implementation of Playstation Move (Spoiler: It doesn’t work very well, especially with driving and you probably won’t use it), and it now works with 3D televisions. There’s now also only one difficulty level, a “perma-easy,” and the controls have been tweaked to make combat less tedious. All in all, it’s clear the emphasis has been put on making the exploration of Greenvale easier to enjoy, making combat more of a palette cleanser than a star attraction of the park.
For those that haven’t played Deadly Premonition before, the game is a 3rd person adventure/action game with elements of Grand Theft Auto, Resident Evil and even Silent Hill. That all sounds promising, but it’s wrapped up in some serious mechanical and design problems that can make the technical experience of the game a chore. The technical and design deficiencies however, are overcome by the sheer quirkiness of the game. Deadly Premonition is capable of being funny, frightening, disturbing and even touching while wrapped up in a surreal air that makes it unlike any other experience this generation. It’s not a game that everyone will love, but for those willing to embrace its schizophrenic charms, there’s an experience here that entertains and makes an impression despite its significant flaws. The game is now available on the PS3 for $40, so it’s not making any unreasonable demands on the wallet.
Deadly Premonition is certainly not an easy game to recommend. It’s an acquired taste and one that admittedly has a suite of “conventional” problems that would sink most other games. But for those with the right sensibility, there is actually a pretty rewarding, funny and entertaining game here that will certainly go down as one of the big cult hits of this generation. Not for everyone, but for those with the right sensibility, an unforgettable experience, even with the blemishes of a poor port to the PS3.