Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Deadly Premonition: Xbox 360 Review

Deadly Premonition got a bad rep almost instantly from IGN. The site gave the game a 2. In a "challenge" of sorts, Destructoid gave it a 10. Neither of these two scores represent an accurate reflection of the value of this game; so I am going to break it down in a semi-professional review style.

Deadly Premonition was initially shown at TGS in 2007 as Rainy Woods. The game was created as a homage to the old show, "Twin Peaks." The homage went a little too far and the creators had to change a few things to avoid a law suit. What we get is the somewhat edited version of their dream project which comes out as a weird hybrid of Shenmue/sandbox game/horror/murder mystery. These elements combined make a pretty unique game that is well worth the $20 admission fee.
The game was released with minimal advertising as a budget title. I picked it up after seeing the controversy at Destructoid regarding it's score. The story follows FBI agent Francis York Morgan (York to his pals) and his alter ego, Zach, through their investigation into the red seed mystery and the "Raincoat Murderer" in Greenvale. The investigation involves questioning suspects, finding clues, and searching haunted areas where the killer lurks. In between these events, the player can choose to goof off with fishing, random fetch quests, and darts.

The graphics aren't going to win any awards. They look very primitive compared to games like Gears of War or Mass Effect, however they do have a certain charm to them. The graphics would be perfect on PS2, but not the 360...four years into it's lifespan! I never saw the graphics as a huge flaw, but do not go into this game expecting an awesome tour-de-force of visuals; you will be largely disappointed.

The music ranges from offbeat to "why the hell are they playing this now?" I can't recall the music ever truly being consistent in one scene, as it will go from a serious sax and piano song for mood purposes to a whimsical tune with whistling in seconds. This can break serious tension in the game's more climatic scenes, but often times you don't mind as the dialogue is just as unusual and campy. My one big issue with the sound is the music often overpowers the character's voices, making some scenes hard to understand. I attempted to fix the audio levels, but it didn't seem to matter.The action gameplay itself is messy. The game starts off on the wrong foot with the first hour being a boring zombie hunt through a dark forest. This crappy area will give you an idea of how the later haunted areas play out: dull and predictable. York wanders through zombie infested areas filled with monsters and crates as he searches for clues to his case. One cool (but overdone) part has you running from the Raincoat Killer, the main antagonist. These sections break the monotony and keep you on the edge of your seat kinda like the Clocktower games.

The detective gameplay is a little better. You drive around the town like Grand Theft Auto, talking to fellow cops or suspects for leads. You can choose to eat dinner and sleep, as you have a meter for both of these things. They will never piss you off as there is always ample power ups to stake off hunger and sleep deprivation (Hello black coffee!) Deadly premonition offers plenty of mini games and side missions for those who get bored with the main storyline.

The controls are pretty bad as well. The controls in the action scenes control like the first three Resident Evil games, oldschool tank controls. While I never died over poor control issues, some scenes could be annoying when the camera reversed (reversing the control scheme with it.) The driving sections also control pretty badly.

You maybe curious now, why do I like this game? The insane characters and really weird story are awesome. Detective York has a split personality which he talks about 1980's films pretty often, one character is secretly a crossdresser, one guy always wears a gas mask, and another dude makes everything he says rhyme at the end of his sentences...the list goes on and on; the characters are very memorable in that "Twin Peaks" sorta way. The story has so many turns, you will never know who the real culprit is. Also the campy dialogue that seems straight out of an Ed Wood movie had me laughing pretty often. I would give this aspect of the game a perfect score.

A few boss fights occur toward the end of the game. These fight are pretty cool and are a definite change of pace from the four other enemies in the game. My only complaint is the heavy use of quick button press sequences to dodge attacks, it is very annoying. Also the final battle is a little too easy in my opinion.

Deadly Premonition is one of the strangest games I have played and beaten in a long time. The controls, graphics, and music are all kinda shitty. However the game's wacky nature gives it a "so bad it's good" feel toward the whole ordeal. After you beat the game, a bonus section opens up showing a photo gallery with pictures of the "real" Greenvale. The dedication they went through to make this game look like the town and give it the surreal feeling of a David Lynch film is amazing. I would recommend this game to people who love weird cinema, the Clocktower series, or cheap yet entertaining games. In the end, if I have to assign a number to Deadly Premonition it would be 7...but assigning numbers is lame, so I will just say: BUY IT, THE GAME IS 20 DOLLARS!


  • Be on the lookout for a scene that plays the full song of "Amazing Grace" for no apparent reason.
  • The original game had the two angelic children in the dream sequences played by two midgets in tuxedos and the main character looked very similar to the main character from "Twin Peaks." These cool David Lynch tributes were edited out of the final version.
  • Deadly Premonition aka Red Seeds Profile was released in the US before Japan. A strange move made even stranger by the fact that it will be released at full price in it's homeland.
  • I am ranked 74th in the Leaderboards for this game. Am I just that damn good or did only like 75 people buy it? You decide.

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