By Umar Bastra
Every generation of video games has a set of titles that completely flies under most gamers’ radar. Games such as Killer 7 and Snatcher are among those that fall into the elusive, Cult Classic category. See, a Cult Classic game is one that hasn’t really been met with commercial success but has garnered a dedicated fanbase despite that fact.
Now, as a lowly gamer I can’t do much about these games and I wish more people actually played them, but I’ll be damned if I don’t do my part to at least spread awareness about one special game that I think deserves much more attention than it currently gets. That game, is Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut .
Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut is an HD remake of the same game released in 2010 on Xbox 360 and PS3(Japan Only). The new game sports updated visuals, move support and some new DLC, scenarios and an extended ending. It would be hard to categorize this game into one specific genre; if I had to try I would say that Deadly Premonition is an open world third-person murder-mystery survival horror adventure game. If you feel slightly confused and violated by that, don’t worry, once you play it you will understand.
Before I jump into the nitty-gritty of the game, I want to be fair and warn anyone that might read this and consider buying it. To play Deadly Premonition, you need to approach it with an open mind. This is not your typical run-of-the-mill video game. No, instead this game has some of the worst visuals and controls you’ll ever encounter, not to mention the new HD remake has some framerate issues as well. But do not let this deter you from the game as absolutely none of that matters when you’re playing it. That said let’s finally hop into the review.
Deadly Premonition follows Agent Francis York Morgan, an FBI agent investigating the murder of a young woman in the quaint little town called Greenvale. York (As he likes to be called) takes the case due to the mysterious and intriguing M.O of the killer – red seeds are always found near the body of the victims. York has to work together with the denizens of Greenvale to help bring in the bad guy and restore order to the once peaceful town. Sounds like your average detective plot right? Well, it couldn’t be further from that. Without getting into too many spoilers, the plot takes numerous twists and turns that send you on a journey of self-discovery and has you second guessing what the truth is.
The real hook of Deadly Premonition comes from the charm its characters and environments exude. Everything and everyone is bursting with personality. Agent York for example has a special friend named Zach; what makes Zach so special is that no one else can see him or knows about him besides York, even if he talks to Zach in front of another character. York constantly talks to him in his head throughout the game, and you’re always wondering if Zach is real or just some imaginary friend. York also seems to be very knowledgeable about movies. When driving around in your car York will often talk about various movies with Zach such as the classics Tremors and Goonies. Another example would be the Deputy Sheriff, Emily Wyatt, who bears a striking resemblance to the actor Naomi Watts, for no apparent reason. The town of Greenvale feels very homey and you often feel like you’re in an episode of Everwood. I think Access Games really nailed the look and feel of Greenvale.
As mentioned before, Deadly Premonition is an open world game of sorts. The game has a timer for each day and main objectives have to be completed within a certain time frame. The main objectives push the story forward and this is usually where the survival horror aspect comes into play. These sections have you exploring linear levels gunning down hordes of creepy enemies in classic Resident Evil 4 over the shoulder style. While these sections do little to scare you, they are entertaining enough to keep things moving forward. York can use a multitude of weapons ranging from his handgun to breakable melee weapons such as a pipe or spade. There aren’t many different enemy types and it does get mundane after a while. When not moving the story forward with these levels,you’re free to explore the town in your police car or on foot outside of the allotted time for the main objectives.
You can partake in numerous activities and interact with various NPCs in the game. You could, for example, spy on one of the officers while they’re having supper in their apartment. I kid you not, you can literally look into their window and stalk them and watch them do completely mundane things like eat or sit on a couch. But that is where the real beauty of Deadly Premonition comes in. It is then up to you to explore and find these gaming gems, and trust me some of them will have you in stitches from laughing so much. There are also numerous side missions that are given to you by certain NPCs; they are not easy to find as some NPCs are only active during certain times of the day – you have to be sure to talk to them at that time or you might miss out. The fact that those NPCs go about their daily lives independent of you, the player, really makes the game feel alive.
The game has some catchy tunes and the voice acting is particularly good at capturing each character’s unique personality. The same can’t be said about the sound effects, though. From the sound your gun makes when firing. to the sound of your car, it’s all sub-par and can really hurt your hearing devices sometimes.
The graphics are really bad, too - but that could be a positive or a negative thing, depending on the type of gamer that you are. This game looks like it was made in the PS 2 era, even with the updated graphics, but the bad graphics give the game a certain extra charm. The weird facial animations and stiff bodies actually help in giving these characters some personality and just make even the most mundane conversation seem really funny. It all depends, though: if you are the type of gamer that revels in high polygon count and dynamic lighting, this game might put you off, but if you can look past that, you might find that the ‘bad’ look of game actually increases the enjoyment factor.
Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut has been released on Steam and I urge everyone to go out and play this game. If you are open-minded enough I promise you will have a one-of-a-kind experience that you will not soon forget. The PC release though, has its fair share of problems, including poor performance, and a resolution locked at 720p. It’s a bit of a bad console port, to be honest – though one wonders if this adds to the charm.