The phrase don't judge a book by its cover comes to mind when contemplating Deadly Premonition. No matter what ideas you create when looking at the front of the game you will never expect the huge expanse of weird characters and sudden surprises that will take place throughout your journey. From the very beginning of the game you will wonder why you even bought it, but after a short time in the sleepy North American town of Greenvale, you will realise just why Deadly Premonition is one of the most important cult games in the history of ever.
A young woman is murdered in Greenvale, which turns the whole town upside down, it may not be the most original premise in the book, but what Deadly Premonition does is give you a really simple idea, throw in a blend of strange characters and gameplay features, and mixes it around with some shockingly bad dialogue that will have you laughing in fits. Deadly Premonition is a cult video game in every sense of the word, and is eccentric to the last minute, you'll find that there's not a dull moment in this budget Xbox 360 title, which would have passed us Brits by if it were not brought to the UK by the brilliant Rising Star Games.
You control FBI Agent Francis York Morgan -but everyone calls him York- or rather you think you control him, that is until you work out that in fact you are Zach, his alternate personality, so be prepared for some subtle breaking of the fourth-wall because Agent York will talk to you a lot throughout the game. Whether he's giving you hints on puzzles, or just having a casual chat to you about his favourite films you'll never feel separated from York's side. What is perhaps best about Agent York is that he is so unlikeable, simply because he appears to be so anti-social that he doesn’t comprehend the etiquettes of normal communication, and will blurt out rude comments, or better yet talk to himself out-loud in such a context that no one in Greenvale would understand but you.
In a similar fashion to the Silent Hill series, Deadly Premonition features two game states; the real world and the 'otherside'. In the real world most of your time is made up of exploring the town of Greenvale, talking to its populace and having fun on the multitude of mini-games. It is in the otherside where you will find yourself pitted against grotesquely human-like ghouls that have the speed to pounce totally unexpected in a dream-like chaos. The blend of the two worlds is unsettling much like Silent Hill and the massive parallels turns you un-easy, dreading that the next mission you get will send you to the otherside. Don't worry though, you can hold your breath to practically turn you invisible to your enemies, this you need to try out for yourself!
The main problem with Deadly Premonition is that Access Games have seemed to try and accomplish everything in one title, whilst Shenmue is a success to this idea, it is obviously extremely difficult to make a game that caters to so many different genres and game styles. With the added need to keep an eye on York's hunger and tiredness, you will also have to ensure that he regularly shaves and changes his clothes, this is besides all of the enemy shooting, car racing, fishing and relationship building that the game is made up of.
As well as feeling slightly overcrowded in features to take part in, the combat system, and driving portions of the game are very clunky and deter the overall fun of the game. It is points like this that make it is obvious that Deadly Premonition is a proper budget cult title, something that the Xbox 360 has not seen done very well, and without sounding too derogatory, Deadly Premonition is in fact so bad, that it is amazingly good. Not only is it the first open world survival horror to grace the gaming world; allowing you to discover the main storyline throughout the town, whilst coming across side missions, but in your spare time between meeting people you will be able to play darts, fish, shave, spy on people and even eat pie at the local diner.
Although a lot of Deadly Premonition's short comings are easily ignored by the obscure brilliance of the game, the only real downfall is found in the town of Greenvale, which looks as though the populace have been evacuated, there are cars on the road, and the inhabitants do in fact go about their daily lives, but you do not feel as though the town is actually alive. This is only highlighted by the poor graphics that the game carries, and it could easily fit in on the Playstation 2; of which it was originally made for, and unfortunately Deadly Premonition doesn't look as though it belongs on the Xbox 360.
One aspect of the game that is most under scrutiny is the use of music; Deadly Premonition sounds like a poorly made student film, that has the volume of the music set far louder than it really should, and incidentally this is spurred on at the most inappropriate of times. However it's not all bad, because the score of Deadly Premonition grows on you like a bad rash, and before long you'll be yearning for the distant jazzy saxophone, and expect the noisily intrusive music all of the time, we loved the music, and felt that it only amplified the hilariously strange awkwardness that ensues throughout the game.
However all bad points aside, the best aspects of Deadly Premonition can be summarized through its odd-ball weirdness. Each character in the game is uniquely strange, so much so that you'll not be surprised that they took reference from Twin Peaks for their characters. From the widower Hotel-owner to Tom the sheriff's assistant you'll be in fits of laughter for the extremely weird situations and conversations that you will find York in with the inhabitants of Greenvale. Although all of this comes down to bad writing and design, the game is only made more alluring by the strange cast of characters and the dialogue that they come out with, and no matter how disgustingly awful some parts of the game are, you still come back and have mountains of fun.
Deadly Premonition is definitely a game that is so good simply for the reason that it is so bad. It is a rare breed for a game, but it is amazing to encounter such a gem, and it's without question that Deadly Premonition will be a cult hit for years to come! If you are looking for an intense gameplay-orientated game do not go for Deadly Premonition, however if you can appreciate a film like Plan 9 from Outer Space for being so good simply on the poorness of it, you will be totally in your element with Deadly Premonition, and you will completely forget any bad points against it.
Deadly Premonition is available now exclusively for Xbox 360 for an SRP of £24.99. Despite any criticisms we make of the game we cannot deny the fact that this feels like one of the best games ever made for the current generation, and hope that you understand why. If you are as confused with our review as we are, you should definitely check out Deadly Premonition, because you'll love it!