Originally released in 2010, Deadly Premonition received some of the most polarizing review scores ever seen in the video game world. For every 10 the game received, there was a score of 1 to match it. The game was praised for its unique story while still being criticized for its strange dialogue, uncomfortable controls, and dated graphics.
Deadly Premonition was never a game for everyone, and even with the improvements made to the director’s cut, this remains the case. However, those willing to travel to the sleepy town of Greenvale and look past the game’s flaws will be treated to one of the most immersive and interesting stories ever seen in a video game.
Deadly Premonition is in so many ways a love letter to Twin Peaks. From similar settings, to a coffee guzzling FBI agent protagonist and wacky townsfolk that all seem to be just a little left of normal, it’s impossible to talk about the game without mentioning David Lynch’s cult TV show. Those who have any familiarity with Twin Peaks will find themselves comfortable within DP’s central town of Greenvale and able to accept the level of absurdity that is commonplace. Those who missed out on one of the greatest shows ever made may find themselves a little more than just confused upon playing one of the greatest games ever made.
So much of the appeal of Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut lies within the game’s narrative. While going at length to talk about the game’s plot would be a disservice, you simply have to sit and play it to truly appreciate it, it’s safe to say that the game exudes originality; all while borrowing some thematic elements from the aforementioned Twin Peaks.
Deadly Premonition opens with Special Agent Francis York Morgan on his way to Greenvale. During his drive, York’s opening dialogue has him examining the nature of the relationship between Tom and Jerry. Within the first five minutes of the game, players are treated to an exposition on inter-dependence, spoken from a FBI agent who manages to be able to smoke, look over case files, drive, and talk to Zach (a personality York is very close with that represents the player).
Welcome to Greenvale, it only gets better from here.
The main story of the game has York, with the help of Zach, investigating the brutal murder of Anna Graham (pun most certainly intended). The crime has brought fear to the town of Greenvale and it is up to York to bring the killer to justice. With help from the Greenvale Police Department – whose members include a gruff sheriff, a pretty tomboy of a deputy, and a sheepish officer whose cooking is the toughest thing about him – York travels throughout Greenvale and the surrounding woods searching for clues to aid the investigation.
During the investigation, York gets to know the citizens of Greenvale, treating each as a suspect until they earn his trust. Each and every person York encounters is wackier than the last, and there is not a single character in the game that isn’t instantly memorable.
As York continues to find clues and interrogate townsfolk he sees as suspects, occurrences in Greenvale get stranger yet. At certain locations, the world shifts from the normal scenery to a strange, fog-filled ‘other-world’, inhabited by shambling humanoids bent of attacking York.
The other-world sections play similar to games like Resident Evil 4. York can equip various melee weapons and guns, but using a weapon roots him in place. Exploring the other-world sections allow York to find the most relevant clues to the case, leading him on to the next step of the investigation.
Cracking the case isn’t all there is to Deadly Premonition though. The citizens of Greenvale offer fifty side missions for York to complete, and while they aren’t always necessary to the game’s core plot, the side missions provide great background information on the town and its inhabitants, as well as hilarious dialogue.
The writing is perhaps the best aspect of Deadly Premonition. As mentioned before, the game draws heavy inspiration from Twin Peaks and this influence is most notable in the writing. From York’s speech patterns, to the inane idiosyncrasies of each and every person you encounter, be prepared for some of the most brilliant writing. Blending the best parts of absurd humor and witty camp, there is never a dull moment when York interacts with someone.
With all the amazing things about the game, it can be very easy to overlook its flaws. For those note swept up in the case and day-to-day occurrences of Greenvale, however, they can be pretty glaring. While the controls have been improved for the Director’s Cut, Deadly Premonition still handles very awkwardly. Driving is almost always a pain and navigating via the game’s map is one of the most frustrating things imaginable. Even with the game’s high definition makeover, it is still far from beautiful. Textures often just look plain bad and character models have very awkward animations.
These flaws aside, Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut is a must buy. DP combines some of the best writing and most interesting characters ever seen in a game and blends them together into an amazingly whacky, yet endearing game. In an age where most games are content to simply follow cookie cutter patterns towards success, Deadly Premonition dares to stand out; and while it may not be the most beautiful or accessible game out there, it oozes with creativity and originality. Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut might just be the greatest game ever made. I give it 10 out of 10 Buddhas.
Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut
10 out of 10 Buddhas
(PS3 version used for this review)
- Twin Peaks inspired narrative
- Witty dialogue
- Engrossing story
- More originality than anything on the market
The Not So Awesome:
- Dated graphics
- Clunky controls
- Terrible map system
Buy or Pass: Buy all the way for fans of the franchise and the original.
*The Author purchased Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut – a Playstation 3 exclusive.
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