Ignition Entertainment, the same guys that brought you Murumasa: The Demon Blade on Wii and Blue Dragon Plus on DS, recently released Deadly Premonition for the 360. The game was released well under everyone’s radar, seeing as this spring has brought an amazing amount of AAA games. Deadly Premonition is a game harkens back to the old survival horror games of yesteryear. So, if you are a fan of old school Resident Evil, Silent Hill or even Siren Blood Curse, then I urge you to at least give this game a try. The game is enjoyable, and brings something truly unique to the table, despite a plethora of problems.
Deadly Premonition is the story of a small rural town on the brink of chaos. You play as Francis York Morgan, and FBI agent sent to the town of Greenvale to investigate the brutal murder of a young woman. You soon find that this is not the only story to be told in this town, and go on a series of investigations to find out what really happened. However, there are zombie-like shadows that try to stop you, as well as a hooded man in a raincoat who continues to stalk you. The story overall is very engrossing, and is the main reason to trudge through the game. It really keeps you intrigued, and continues to make you want to find out what happens next.
However, the gameplay will make this game painful to get through for some. There are pretty much four key elements of the gameplay: profiling, shooting, puzzles, and free roaming. Profiling is working your way around an environment looking for clues to progress. The shooting sections are your standard over the shoulder third person shooter fare, and the puzzles, which are usually riddles or finding an item can be simple yet frustrating. Finally, the whole town of Greenvale is open to you in some sections, and you will be able move around as you see fit, visiting shops and such before you have to be at a certain location. An interesting aspect of the game is how you earn money and rewards.
Every action you take, whether it is killing enemies, clearing debris or opening lockers earns you Agent Points. These points accumulate to add to your funds. You need these funds as well, because a very unique aspect of the game is the hunger and sleep meters. During the course of the game, you need to sleep and eat. You can find and buy food at certain places, and there are also certain places where you can nap. These affect your stamina and energy levels as well. This is a very cool aspect of the game, and really drives it home that this is also an adventure that you are going on, and have to really become close to your character. The gameplay overall is a mixed bag, with some aspects being really engaging and fun, while others are just a chore. The game does do a good job of switching things up on you, and doesn’t do the same thing over and over. You usually switch to a different aspect every twenty minutes or so, so when you start getting tired of a section, it changes over to something new.
In terms of presentation is where Deadly Premonition is really lacking. The game moves very slowly, so be ready to have to sit and wait for long winded animations and unskippable dialogue. The graphics are PS2 era at best, if not earlier, but they are still somewhat easy on the eyes. They are not so bad that you can’t tell what is what, which is a good thing. The music is good, and very light hearted. However, they seem to use the same four songs over and over in every single cutscene that you watch, so you will have to get used to them. Also, a kind of humorous aspect is all objects of the same type have the same sound effects.
An example would be the doors, in which all the doors (even the metal ones) have the same creaking noise when you open and close them. This brings me to the dialogue, which is one of the worst, and yet best aspects of this game. With laugh out loud one-liners, as well as the main character spouting off movie trivia at every turn, the dialogue is one of the most interesting parts of this game. You almost get excited to watch a cutscene, just to find out what kind of cheesy, ridiculous dialogue the characters will say next. Overall, the presentation is decent but nowhere near good, you will just need to overlook the few minor things I’ve mentioned.
As a whole, Deadly Premonition is what it is, a budget game. With a price point of twenty dollars, you really can’t expect much from this game. I know I went in with an open mind, and came out very satisfied. Despite its problems it is a game that I think deserves more positive attention than it is getting. Yes, some aspects are nowhere near where the bar has been set on current titles, but this game is something that is a truly unique experience as well as a love letter to fans of the survival horror genre. You really can’t go wrong with picking this game up if you have the time to invest in it, and there are certainly worse games that you can spend your money on.
Review copy provided by publisher.