Reviewed on Playstation3
Originally released on the Xbox 360 back in 2010, D eadly Premonition is now recognised as one of the most critically polarising titles in recent memory. It became something of a cult hit, criticised for its shoddy gameplay, but praised for its unique story and characters.
The Director’s cut is an exclusive release for the PS3 (although a PC release looks likely, as it is currently undergoing voting on Steam Greenlight) and boasts an “extended storyline, enhanced graphics and updated controls”.
You play as Francis York Morgan, an FBI agent with a particular interest in the murders of young women; an interest which leads him to the lakeside town of Greenvale, home to an on-going investigation into the murder of a local café waitress.
Half of the game sees you driving around the open world to question suspects, partake in side missions and mini-games, and find evidence. Once evidence is found, York begins ‘profiling’, which is essentially just a cut-scene revealing more about the case. The other half, however, takes place in a distorted version of particular areas and has you combating zombie-esque creatures (which inexplicably spring from the ground) with an over-the-shoulder camera angle à la Resident Evil 4 and solving light puzzles.
Unfortunately for Deadly Premonition, none of the gameplay elements are any good. The combat is fiddly and repetitive; side missions, while enjoyable for their character, are in practice tiring, superficial and elusive (I managed to find three out of the 50 available in one playthrough). Also the mini-games are painfully average (fancy fishing for boxes of ammo, anyone?) and the driving is utter guff. Shopping trollies handle better than cars in Deadly Premonition and, considering a great deal of time is spent driving to witnesses and crime scenes, this is a big problem. All of this combines to render the open world entirely dull and thus void of any
reason to explore it.
However, Deadly Premonition’s saving grace, as it were, is in its characters and story. This game has charm spewing from every orifice: from the slightly deaf hotel owner, Polly, who always mistakes York’s innocent queries for come-ons; to York’s frictional relationship with the local police; and, of course, York’s fortune-telling cups of coffee and conversations with his imaginary friend, Zach.
The story and cast manage to generate joyful moments, but also moments that I found distressing and, frankly, a little upsetting. The fact that I lost sleep over certain plot points is testament to the game’s engaging characters and intriguing plot. And this is the reason why it is so difficult for me to say this, but Deadly Premonition is not a very good game. Mechanically it is a steaming pile of crap; a serviceable pile maybe, but the stink lines are very clear. As a so-called “Director’s Cut” that promises improvements over the original release, it is shameful. This is nothing more than a bad (and more expensive) port of an already under-polished title.
As a game, I can’t recommend this. As an experience, I hesitate before recommending it at a cheap price. Deadly Premonition is almost an even split between dreadful and masterful. Its effectiveness as an experience is highly subjective, but from a personal perspective it left a lasting impression on me and that hasn’t happened in a very long time.
‘What’s Hot’ Writer