“Deadly Premonition” slipped under my radar in 2010, garnering some of the most mixed reactions in the gaming world. With the release of “Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut,” I had the opportunity to play one of the most derisive games of this console generation. Gaining itself a Guinness World Record of “Most Critically Polarizing Survival Horror Game,” “Deadly Premonition” is the type of game you either love or hate.
It's very similar to a B-movie, and it has become a cult classic. If you play games for just graphics or controls, this game will be very disappointing. It is buggy and feels very broken; however, that is part of the charm. If you can see past the buggy gameplay, you will find a really bizarre and quirky murder mystery game that feels very much like an episode of “Twin Peaks.”
“Deadly Premonition” is a third-person psychological thriller, an open world survival horror game that allows you to roam free around the town and interact with a cast of truly bizarre characters to find out what is going on in the town of Greenvale. The main character is FBI Agent York. Throughout the game, York can explore as you wish, collecting items, talking to townsfolk, and solving puzzles, all with the overall goal of investigating a series of murders. York himself is a really weird guy; he is constantly rambling and has a rather hilarious inner monologue. He also has an imaginary friend and is a coffee addict, making him one of the most memorable game characters of recent memory.
Some of the most interesting gameplay ideas are based in the real world. When you drive your car, you have to stop for fuel and pay for repairs. You must eat, sleep, and even change your clothes and shave or you will fall asleep or even start gathering flies. If you don't eat or sleep, you will get fatigued, and if you are dirty, some people in the town will not provide clues in conversations because they don't like you. It is rather pointless because it doesn't change the outcome, but it does add personality to the game and makes it even more fleshed out and feel even stranger.
There are several times in the game when Agent York has to engage in combat against all sorts of supernatural beings. The fighting is primarily melee with hand-to-hand weapons and the occasional gun or ranged weapon. The fighting isn't that great; it is very buggy and frustrating at times. Thankfully, it's not the most action-packed game. York's primary goal is the investigate crimes in the town; collecting photos of pieces of evidence will allow him to “profile” the scene and figure out what transpired using his keen detective skills. The graphics aren't very good and the fighting kind of sucks, but it's all about the story, the wacky cast of characters, and the scary horror sequences along the way.
Although I didn't play the first release, with some research I found that there are several additional missions in the directors cut and the graphics and controls are better, even though they are still pretty bad. There is also the addition of a mini map and some upgrades to the inventory management system. And there is an extended ending that sets up the possibility of a sequel. Another added feature from its first release on the PS3 is the addition of PS Move controls and stereoscopic 3D. They make the game experience worse instead of improving it, however; the 3D makes the already jaggy visuals worse. These options look good on the box but they aren't really selling points.
“Deadly Premonition” is really the best example of a game that doesn't have to be a huge triple-A blockbuster with polished graphics or gameplay to tell a compelling tale. If you are able to forgive the game for these bugs, it is well worth the time you will spend with it. If you like horror games, quirky mystery games, or you are just a person that relishes in watching a bad movie, then “Deadly Premonition” is really the best bad game you might ever play.
-Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at rvanderveken @timesleader.com.