Happy holidays, all! Last week, I took a look at a Dreamcast landmark that's still pretty cool, even if it hasn't aged as well as I'd like.
So, it's Christmas! Holiday spirit and all that. And in the spirit of the holidays, let's talk about Deadly Premonition.
The much better European cover. Note Destructoid's 10/10 rating.
The incongruously titled Deadly Premonition came out quietly a few years back for Xbox 360 (later ported to PS3 as a Directors Cut). You play as one Agent Francis York Morgan. Just call him York. Everybody calls him that. In a setup that echoes the 1990 classic TV series Twin Peaks, Agent Morgan (or, um, York) comes to the small town of Greenvale to investigate the murder of 18-year old Anna Graham. Weirdness, monsters, and coffee ensues in this game that...
...well. The best way to describe the game is a hot mess. It's like a Z-grade slasher flick that you should hate, but you love. Like, this game does so much wrong and right at the same time. It's a train wreck, and like a train wreck, one just has to look.
Deadly Premonition makes a horrible first impression. First of all, it's pretty ugly. If you're like me, you're sitting there going, "But Brian, graphics don't matter when it comes to gameplay!" True. They don't. But, they are the first thing you notice about any game, and so it does tailor your first impression of a game whether you like it or not. It's barely 360 quality graphics.
But okay, you can get past the graphics. But then you gotta play this thing. Deadly Premonition plays a little like Resident Evil 4. A little. It's the closest comparison, really, except Premonition is remarkably stiff in its controls. York is kind of a big lummox on screen; every movement makes him seem like his suit is a size too small. He doesn't animate well, and...well, picture Resident Evil 4 with the tank controls of Resident Evil 1, and you'd have a pretty good idea of Premonition. Aiming a gun isn't smooth at all, and you'll have to do it often during most of the game. And the melee options are best left unmentioned.
But you have to stick with it.
Gameplay issues aside, Deadly Premonition picks up after that first tutorial mission/intro. Because the game is just delightfully weird.
Coffee, because of course coffee.
Being inspired by Twin Peaks-heavily inspired-Deadly Premonition is unapologetic in it's weirdness. York himself is a bizarre nutjob; he sees messages in coffee and has an imaginary friend named Zach that he regularly converses with. There's an unrelenting feeling of discomfort around the game. Everything is just off. There's a fetch quest early on where you learn more than you wanted to know about squirrels. The game is just full of moments like this that make you scratch your head. Or shake your head. Or groan. But you're smiling, too.
What's cool is you also have to take care of York. York gets hungry, so you gotta feed him, and you have to shave, and fill cars with gas, and sleep. It's like last week's game, only this time the food actually matters. You can even be fined for wearing dirty clothes, so you have to change every day. So, yeah...change clothes, eat, sleep. Like I said last week, this is a video game.
You know what sold me on Deadly Premonition? Like, finally sold me on it? There's a moment where you're driving-alone-to a crime scene. As you're driving, a prompt pops up on the screen, telling you to press X to talk. Talk to who, I wondered? Well, press X and York talks to Zach, his imaginary friend. And "they" talk about the idea that DVD's of recent/popular movies having more special features than the DVD's of older/lesser known movies. Specifically, York philosophizes on the differences between the DVD releases of Star Wars and Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.
It's such an unbelievable moment, one that prepares you for the absurdity that follows. And there's plenty of it. And the story ends up being pretty good, even if it's told through oddball scenes and generally awful voice acting, of the "so bad it's good" variety.
In fact, you can still get Deadly Premonition on PS3 for free, if you've got PS Plus. So it's worth a shot, seeing as how it's batcrap crazy. It controls terribly, looks awful, and it's great.
Thanks for reading! Throw some future game suggestions my way and Tweet me!
Next week brings us to a Super Nintendo masterpiece that sadly only saw one mediocre sequel. One of the best soundtracks of that era, too.