Review by Myviewing
"Like an obscure film from Manhattan, this game is a cult hit waiting to happen. So says Mr. Stewart."
If the opening tagline didn't make any sense to you at all, then you have a very good idea of what the world of Deadly Premonition has in store for you. Survival horror games with the exception of the Resident Evil franchise has pretty much all but become a fragment of the past that has simply declined to disappear with the exception of a few new franchises that have done what they could to move the genre into a new direction. One example of a game that has simply stayed where it is though is 2010's American release Deadly Premonition. Looking at the concept itself and being a new release at $20, you might need to muster out some courage to feel like you're not being ripped off with this recent release. If you need any assurance about making Deadly Premonition as your next purchase though, despite several technical issues it is actually a very entertaining game that you'll find to be a very nice fix for your survival horror craving.
The premise behind Deadly Premonition is that in the sleepy little town of Greenvale, there has been an event that was never expected to happen in the first place, a murder. A young woman named Anna has been found dead and hanging from a tree and with odd red seeds leaking from her body. With this in mind, an FBI agent named Francis York Morgan has been assigned to travel to this town and find out what has happened before it can happen again. The story behind Deadly Premonition isn't something that you haven't heard of before, but the execution behind it is something that will stay with you even after you're done playing the game. The biggest appeal comes from the main character Mr. Morgan, a quirky and overall entertaining character for the story. Try and think of what would happen if Monk, House, Dr. Malcolm Crowe, and a psychotic person all managed to have a child that sprang from their union. Francis a detective with a dual personality named Zach and finding out what caused him to get to this point is something that adds a lot to the story of the game. Without giving much more away, the rest of the characters are just as appealing and have quirky characteristics that you won't soon forget. The cut scenes ranging from humorous to dramatic to mystifying are all very well done and make you feel like you're watching a considerably well done television drama.
To be frank about the graphics, it probably goes without saying that they are quite easily the worst thing about the game. Simply put, even if the game was a launch title for the Xbox 360 back in 2005, this wouldn't have looked all that good. Just take a look at the gameplay graphics beside Kameo and you'll see what I mean. Everything looks like an early Playstation 2 or late Dreamcast game and the cut scenes don't show much more technical prowess. The only good thing about the graphics is that there isn't a great deal of lag with the exception of some sections in the driving portions of the game. In the end the graphics aren't necessarily all that bad, they just don't show anything that the Xbox 360 is really capable of doing.
Thankfully on the other end of the spectrum, the sound department is one of the better upsides for the game. The sound effects are the only poor part of the sound because everything sounds like it would have been easily pulled off in a last generation game. Ranging from the gun shots to pushing crates to zombie death effects, there is not much to like from the effects. The other parts though including the voice acting and the music are both very well done for a game with this little polish put into it. The music is very atmospheric and fitting at every given time and the songs that you'll hear are very catchy and memorable that you'll find yourself humming to every now and then, especially the Comic Relief song. The only part of the music that I personally didn't find myself enjoying that much was the opening song that plays when the game starts, not because of the music itself, but the vocals are not that well done for the particular song. A game with such a premise as it has also requires good voice acting, and the developers have thankfully not let up in this department. Francis has a great voice actor for one with such an offbeat personality and the rest of the cast does justice in order to present the world of Greenvale very well.
The presentation certainly isn't the most big budget example of gaming to date, but obviously you might be wondering if the game plays any better than the price tag. If you're able to look past the not so big production values and you don't mind a fairly dated formula, you'll definitely find something to like in Deadly Premonition. If you don't like the sound of dated gameplay that Deadly Premonition offers, then you might not like it at first, though if you're willing to give it an honest chance, then you might find something to enjoy.
There's an exploration aspect to Deadly Premonition quite similar to Grand Theft Auto IV's exploration be it through the use of cars or just running to your destination. Of course there is a limit to how much you can run until the bar below your health bar fills up and you end up losing parts of your fullness bar, another aspect to be touched on latter. This serves as the exploration part of the game, and there is a fair amount to do in the town of Greenvale if you're willing to find any of the side quests, do any of the extra activities, or collect the cards for information on parts of Greenvale to add to the value of the game. Exploration is never a problem and there's nothing to really prevent you from going from point A to point B.
The other aspect of the game consists of the combat which is uniquely placed when York ends up in a seemingly alternate universe where he must fight against zombie like creatures through a very murky setting. The combat though isn't much different from the likes of Resident Evil 4 or last year's 5 though there aren't any melee attacks for an option. There are also some stealth aspects to the game such as holding your breath to sneak by enemies, though if you really just want to run in killing everything or run past them you do have the option. The controls also aren't quite as sensitive as they are in the Resident Evil games but once you have managed to get used to them, you'll feel like it's a kind of game that you've been playing for the prior something years of your gaming life.
It's possible to beat Deadly Premonition by simply going through the main story and doing very few side quests, but even if you do the game will take about 20 hours to complete. That alone is a very good deal, and the added soundtrack that's unlocked along with many side quests to seek and accomplish, Deadly Premonition is probably the best deal in gaming you can choose from this day in age. If you're a fan of the genre and been craving more after long beating Resident Evil 5, this is definitely a game you should consider making your next purchase.
I personally very much enjoyed my time with Deadly Premonition despite everything being as dated as it was. One thing the reviewer on IGN was right about would be that if this game had come out back in 2002 or so, Deadly Premonition would have been heralded as a brave new step for the survival horror genre or even considered the Shenmue Killer. If it does any justice for the game's reputation though, Deadly Premonition is a good example of a triumph of substance over production values and Ignition Entertainment was probably wise to issue it new at $20. Overall, I can say that if you don't mind the last gen graphics or the dated control scheme, there is something waiting for you in the odd world of Deadly Premonition and you won't soon be disappointed. You might even find yourself part of the inevitable cult that this game is more than likely to garner in later years, which I know I certainly wouldn't mind being formed.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 05/03/10
Game Release: Deadly Premonition (US, 02/17/10)
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