Recently I was given the chance to revisit the cult classic Deadly Premonition. The game originally made it’s North American debut on the Xbox 360 back in 2010. Developed by Access Games and designed by Hidetaka “Swery” Suehiro, the game quickly gained really mixed reviews. The controller scheme was a mess and the visuals were subpar. The Director’s Cut was released earlier this year for the Playstation 3 and aimed to make the game easier to play rather than add to the story.
In Deadly Premonition you play a FBI special agent named Francis York Morgan, but everybody calls him York. You are sent to a small town of Greenvale to investigate a murder. The games starts with two young boys taking a nature walk with their grandfather when they stumble upon a dead woman tied to a tree. She has a large deep gash going down her abdomen and the sight is pretty gruesome. While investigating the murder you will encounter a host of oddball residents. Everything from a cross dressing sheriff deputy to a weird man in a wheelchair that wears a mask and speaks through a assistant in a strange rhyming tone. You quickly find out that the residents are not the only strange characters. York is a special agent that is haunted with these strange premonitions. His visions switch back and forth between the real world and a world filled with scary looking ghouls and he gains insight by reading the future in his cups of coffee. Strange, I know. He also likes to talk to a imaginary guy named Frank. The one sided conversations range from York asking Frank his opinions on the case to talking about their favorite movies like Jaws and American Werewolf in London. Sounds strange but all this just adds to the unique and charming humor the game provides. One minute your laughing and the next minute you are running for you life from scary walking and sounding ghosts. If you can get past the low quality of the graphics and the bad audio you will find yourself really invested into finding out what is going on in Greenvale.
The graphics remind me of a late PS2 type of game. The Director’s Cut did bump up the resolution to 720p but the visuals themselves are not on par with alot of other games released in the last 2 years. The sounds are also cheap and even cheesy at times. It has a low budget early Resident Evil feel to it. The original version made it hard to move and look around due to a bad controller scheme and horrible camera. For the Director’s Cut, both the controller and camera have been improved greatly. Other than adding 3D and utilizing the Playstation Move controller not much else was changed. I didn’t like the 3D at all. The 3D effect was weak and using the Move controller only made things worse. The gameplay starts like your average third person shooter but once you make it to Greenvale it really opens up. It is, in a way, a open world type of game. You have to ability to drive across great distances to interview people or just hang out around town. Admittedly the driving experience is awful thanks to how how clunky and hard to drive the cars are. Besides some major flaws, Greenvale does a good job giving you the sense that it is a breathing and living small town. Bars and restaurants open according to the time of day and there is even rain every once in a while. All these things add up to a great experience I was not expecting from Deadly Premonition.
So in the end I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised on what Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut had to offer. I did change my mind on my original thoughts of the game though it wasn’t enough to win me over. I still feel that the awesome story and character development was hidden behind the horrid visual and gameplay it had. I can see why it has a cult following but it just wasn’t for me. I give it 3 ghostly ghouls out of 5.