Deadly Premonition Review

Game Review: Deadly Premonition
Release: February 23, 2010
Genre: Survival-Horror
Developer: Access Games
Available Platforms: Xbox 360
Players: 1
MSRP: $19.99
ESRB Rating: Mature (Blood, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Suggestive Themes)

Deadly Premonition is definitely a unique game; for all of its flaws — of which there are many — it manages to remain almost charming…almost.

When the rural town of Greenvale experiences a brutal murder, FBI Agent Francis York Morgan arrives to offer his assistance. But York isn’t your typical Federal Agent; he sees omens in his coffee, loves random movie trivia, and enjoys discussing both — among other things — with his imaginary friend, Zach. Still, Greenvale isn’t all that it appears to be, either. In fact, the town harbors some sinister secrets, and if York isn’t careful, this may be his final investigation.

Your task is to apprehend the murderer through exploration and investigation. Discovering clues allows York to create a “profile” of the crime scene, bringing him one step closer to unveiling the mystery. Along the way, various locations will go “Silent Hill” on you, at which time you will have to  dispatch the aggressive zombies…ghosts…things (seen below) that litter your path. That’s the action side of the game.

Beyond that, players will spend a large amount of time cruising around the town — which, surprisingly, is quite large — interrogating locals and making sure York is well-fed, well-rested, and stubble-free. And no, I’m not kidding; you will be spending plenty of time in a bed or at a diner, usually in that order.

Despite its flaws, the game does manage to be somewhat creepy and the Raincoat Killer is a respectable stand-in for Pyramid Head or Nemesis. The fact that Deadly Premonition draws heavily from David Lynch’s Twin Peaks is also a plus, although that is a matter of opinion — in my case, the overly quirky plot was what kept me interested for as long as I was.

Which brings me to the game’s problems. Fair warning: this will be neither quick nor painless. The controls are atrocious; York basically handles like Leon in Resident Evil 4 (i.e. a tank), minus any form of precision when it comes to aiming…or turning. The cars you drive also handle like a tank (and go about as fast) and require you to keep an eye on the gas gauge at all times. The map zooms out to about 1/50th of its full size, limiting your ability to plot a path to your next destination. The music — all two or three songs — are completely inappropriate in the game, while the script and voice acting are both only slightly better than the infamous “you were almost a Jill sandwich”. Actions like opening doors, picking up objects, and firing your gun are, for the most part, extremely slow. And let us not forget that Deadly Premonition looks like it should have been released on the PlayStation 2.

Being a budget title is more of a saving grace than anything else; there is absolutely no way I would recommend this game at full price, but as it is, I would only recommend Deadly Premonition to the most extreme fans of survival-horror, and then only if they can deal with an eccentric but slow-moving story and sub-par mechanics and presentation. Let me put it this way — Deadly Premonition is trying to climb Mount So-Bad-It’s-Good, but 100 feet from the summit it slips on a loose rock and tumbles all the way back to base camp.

Final say: For anyone who is still vaguely interested, might I recommend a relaxing weekend at home watching Twin Peaks and playing Silent Hill? It’s basically the same thing, but it’ll be much less aggravating.

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