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Best of it's genre

Review: Deadly Premonition

by April 23, 2012

Know that feeling when you’re playing a video game and you just think “Man I LOVE video games”?  Chances are while playing this game you’ll get that feeling often.

Before I get too ahead of myself, let’s start at the beginning…

Deadly Premonition Title

Scary Font, lesser known brother of Comic Sans

You play agent Francis York Morgan, he’s been given the task of investigating the death of a young woman in the small town of Greenvale. As he arrives his car runs off the road and he’s left to hoof it the rest of the way. After a brief combat section he meets the deputy sherrif Emily Wyatt and the town (and story) starts to open up.

Let’s pause here so I can go over Francis York Morgan with you, I feel that “unique” would be the best way to describe him. He’s arrogant, has a knack for bringing up 80’s pop culture, and oh yes, he likes to talk to himself. See, agent Francis York Morgan has a best friend named Zach who is a different personality. He talks to him freely throughout the game and doesn’t conceal the fact from anyone in town. It’s not out of place for agent Francis York Morgan to pause while talking to someone to either question or answer something from Zach.

Francis York Morgan

Francis York Morgan is in a league by himself.

Agent Francis York Morgan also comes from the hustle and bustle of the city so he looks at the people of Greenvale not only as lower on the social scale, but lower on the evolutionary scale. Many times during his investigation he’s in awe of their ways and customs.

All of this leads to a truly interesting journey as you discover the town, it’s history and it’s people. Not only because of the overall story but also how agent Francis York Morgan reacts to it.

By now I’m sure you’re wondering why I refer to agent Morgan as “agent Francis York Morgan” every single time I bring him up and that brings me to the second part of this review, the writing.

The story is masterfully done but the writing is awkwardly fabulous. There are multiple times in the game when a moment is shattered by a truly awkward and uncomfortable scene right after or at some point during the moment. The interaction between the characters is raw and comes down to each character representing the id portion of their personality.

Many have called this a Twin Peaks video game, that’s a fair comparison.

The story is masterfully done but the writing is awkwardly fabulous.

Deadly Premonition is no slouch when it comes to story and characters but when it comes to visuals there’s a lot left to be desired.

The visuals are lackluster but they’re not broken. The easiest way to describe them would be to say they are sharpened Playstation 2 graphics. If this game was released in 2000 it would have won awards for it’s visuals, now they’re merely average and do the job. That’s not to say they look like something from last gen because that’s not the case, the sharper resolution makes them clear if not basic. The very standard styles are balanced by a very diverse set of characters and locations. While this is not a big budget release there is a lot of personality injected in these characters, overall a case of making the most out of what you have.

The enemies are the same handful recycled through the game with a few variations on attack but for the most part what you see in the first stage will be what you’re seeing in the last stage.

The sound brings us back to awkward. In some cases where there are character interactions the sound is done perfectly to create an almost surreal world of distortion. Basic sound effects like gunshots and explosions are weak, some of the weakest I’ve heard, to be honest. The melodies are haunting and fit the scenes perfectly and the mix of slow and uptempo themes keep you on your toes. There were many scenes that were helped to move in a 180 because of the change of tempo.

For action sequences the gameplay is basic third person over the shoulder. It’s basic and gets the job done and that’s all you can say about it, it does the job and that’s fine. Don’t expect Gears of War or even 50 Cent. As far as exploration, it’s third person as well with the camera a bit farther back giving you the ability to see more which is good because there are many collectables to get during the game.

Now let’s get to the worst part of the game, the driving. Oh my bananas this is bad and it’s really hard to explain how bad it is until you play it. The best way to describe it would be to say you look forward even when you turn so until your car is facing a new direction you won’t be able to see what’s in front of you. This is helped (a bit) by using the view from inside the vehicle but even after you get the controls down you’ll wish it was better. During the game you’ll have the option of better vehicles and upgrades for them and that will ease the pain a little but the driving will never be a bright spot during gameplay.

COULD BE HELPFUL WITH ANXIETY BECAUSE

  • Loads of things to do and discover in the town
  • Game allows you to take it at your own pace with it’s truly open world gameplay (in most locations)
  • Interesting characters that make you think
  • Funny moments break up the monotony

COULD BE UNHELPFUL WITH ANXIETY BECAUSE

  • Portions of the game happen in distorted world
  • Can only save at specific locations
  • Some gameplay locations are closed off and once you enter you need to finish them before you can leave
  • Dark and creepy moments
  • Features death and loss

WHY YOU SHOULD BE PLAYING THIS

For me personally the humor that agent Francis York Morgan uses made the game seem rather light in places and the story and gameplay was engaging enough to keep me focused on something else rather then my panic and anxiety. I don’t think it’s a good game if you’re trying to relieve anxiety or panic symptoms but if you’re feeling fine I don’t for-see any problems. If you’re able to watch a drama and not feel anxious while doing it then you should give Deadly Premonition a try.

This review was based on the Xbox 360 version that was provided by the reviewer.

Overview
Release Date

Feb 23, 2010

Digital or Retail

Retail

Platform

XBOX 360

Developer

Access Games

Publisher

Ignition Entertainment

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AwardsBest of it's genrePlay it no matter what
Positives

Great story, well defined characters, imaginative level design

Negatives

Driving, oh the driving

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7.0
Gameplay
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Story
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Sound
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