Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Deadly Premonition : The Review

Due to the fact that most of the people who read this blog wouldn't know what a Goomba is, I don't tend to write reviews on computer games, however today is an exception as I review Deadly Premonition.

I'd first heard of this title several years ago when it was called Rainy Woods. The trailer looked like a love letter to Twin Peaks and I couldn't wait to play it. Then I learnt is was an American release only, great sadness for Adamicus's Xbox 360 then!

However, they changed the name to Deadly Premonition and I got this game last year sometime.

I have tried to review this game for sometime now, but it's really hard to put my thoughts and feelings down onto paper or in this case on the keyboard. It's down to the fact that Deadly Premonition, isn't a game. Yet it isn't a film. It's a interactive experience that transcends what I would consider to be a mild form of entertainment to a work of art that absorbed me body and soul into it's narrative.

I can honestly say that I've never played a "game" like it. On completion of the game I simply turned off my console and sat there, processing the last few moments of the thrilling conclusion in both abject horror and biter sweet happiness. It was a few days before I played a game again as I really felt emotionally drained.
Just to be clear, as a game, this is far from perfect. But as an experience there truly is nothing else like it out there.

There won't be spoilers in this due to my respect for the source material and not wanting to ruin the journey for any of you who decide to play this.

So, what the hell is Deadly Premonition? Well I'd define it as a 3rd Person Psychological Horror.

The set-up is simple: In the town of Greenvale, a local girl has been murdered and the FBI have decided to bring in it's finest, Special Agent Francis "York" Morgan, to help solve it. But that truly is just the surface, and the idyllic town soon shows it's true colours as another girl is murdered.

The main character, Francis "York" Morgan, is an enigma from the get go. He breaks the fourth wall on several occasions referring to you as "Zach". The other characters in the game notice this but he always tells them not to ask him about Zach. When you're driving around in your car, York will begin to talk to you about films from the 80's. Even asking you questions about films and his opinion on it. It's not that dissimilar to American Psycho, where Bateman is talking about music seconds before burying an axe into a guys head. York is brash, impolite at points, untrustworthy of everyone and superstitious, he also has a mysterious past to add to his repertoire.

So he's a bit of an oddball, which is good news as the rest of the town is full of them. From Thomas a sheriff's deputy who is just a little camp to Sigourney the "pot" lady who is always worried that her pot will get cold to Harry Stewart a wheelchair bounded millionaire with a skull gas mask over his face. They're all weirdo's, except Emily, the lady police officer who seems to be the only normal person in town and also York's love interest.

The killer is known as "The Raincoat Killer" which is a pretty cool name and Raincoat looks pretty cool in a red raincoat, glowing eyes and an axe he takes around with him. He's not the only baddy you'll be facing as for some reason, when it rains and at night and in places where you're on your own, Greenvale becomes populated with zombies. Not just regular zombies, these guys literally bend over backwards like they're in the world limbo championships. They move slowly then suddenly speed up, also they have a weird blur surrounding which is a great visual effect when they appear. If they catch you, they don't eat your brains, instead they force their hand down your throat. It's pretty f**ked up. They can also take quite a beating, with several bullets before they finally go down. They can carry weapons sometimes and then there's the really annoying one that looks like the girl from The Ring. She's a bit of a mini boss and keeps turning up. She takes FOREVER to kill, which gets annoying when at one point, you're facing 3, one after another.

There's a lot to do in Greenvale and you're encouraged to take your time with the case. You can go fishing, play darts, take part in time trials, investigate Mystery spots where you can unlock new weapons, do side missions that reveal more about the characters and plot and collect cards that are scattered all over the place.
You've also got a map that has the location of everyone in Greenvale, so you can follow their movements. I had a particular disturbing discovery about one of the characters when I "peeked" through their window and found them doing something really really odd.

The game play is very much rinse and repeat. You goto a location, a cut scene happens, you investigate the location and then are on your own when zombies attack, here you'll also encounter Raincoat and have an on rails chase scene before uncovering the clues to lead you to the next location. The driving isn't great as your car feels pretty sluggish and the combat is dull. There's no multiple choice questions you can ask when you're speaking to someone either.

However, the narrative truly is the star. I played Deadly Premonition and from the get go I was hooked. York Morgan was like an old friend by the end, and the final act of the game got me quite emotional. I was awe struck with certain moments, laughing along with others and truly gobsmacked with the finale.

All this and for a low low price. Deadly Premonition is a budget title and you can currently pick it up for about £12.00. Also it's coming to Xbox Games On Demand service, so if you have a big enough hard drive and the price isn't too bad, it's well worth the investment. Especially if you like Twin Peaks.

It won't be everyone's cup of tea but for those of you who it strikes a chord with, play it till completion then tell me if you agree. SWERY, the creator is hoping to make a prequel, and I for one am hoping that too. More mainstream games should focus as much on the plot and characters as SWERY did as I've not come close to playing a game that can beat Deadly Premonition's emotional investment.

Well there you have it. Only took me over a year to get some of my thoughts about this seminal game down on this blog. Your current program of randomness will resume soon.

No comments: