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Deadly Premonition


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#1 dumpster

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 12:44 AM

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Meet Mr. Stewart. Hes some kind of millionaire industrialist, and he wears a gasmask. Hes pushed around in his wheelchair by his servant. When he speaks, he only speaks to his servant, who then relays the message to whoever hes talking to. The servant only speaks in rhyme. At some point in his life, Mr. Stewart commited some sort of sin. We dont know what, but we know that he feels a great deal of guilt. So much guilt, in fact, that every day he visits the local diner and orders a Jelly and Cereal Sandwich. This is known as The Sinners Sandwich. Confused? Dont worry by the time this happens it fits perfectly within the utterly insane world of Deadly Premoniton.

Deadly Premonition defies explanation and divides critics. The game is a Shenmue style exploration of the small town of Greenvale, where you'll meet the locals and try to solve a murder case. This is combined with some 3rd person shooting sections, the occasional QTE, puzzle solving, car racing and item hunting.

In some ways, its utterly dreadful, and yet it becomes quite brilliant. At times, youll find yourself driving slowly across town, following a suspect for ten minutes in real time. Youll run after a dog in the street for what seems like hours. Youll roam around a police station looking for a keyring with a squirrel on, only to find six different sets of keys, with six different types of squirrel. Youll come to want to throttle the police officer Thomas every time he describes in detail why you've brought the wrong squirrel. And youll get slightly seasick as you notice that everyone in the game sways gently from side to side. All the time. Gently swaying, in the breeze. But despite all this, it's brilliant.

Deadly Premonition was originally intended to be a PS2 game, and it's clear to see by the poor graphics and motion capture. The character models and animation are very basic in comparison to current Xbox titles that Deadly Premonition is competing against for your attention. Consider the main character, Francis York Morgan. See how he waves his finger in exactly the same way at everyone, regardless of whether hes arresting them or saying a cheery hello. See the expression of shock on Francis face when he sees a corpse that has been hung from a wall with its own veins. Thats exactly the same expression of shock he displays when he eats The Sinners Sandwich and finds its actually delicious.

The music, too, is utterly insane. There are a number of excellent pieces of music throughout the game, but for the most part youll hear the same three tracks over and over. From the totally inappropriate jazz music to the exited whistling of Life Is Good, the music, often so loud it drowns out the voices of the characters youre talking to, is always just wrong enough to make scenes unintentionally hilarious.

Or maybe its all intentionally hilarious. Its so difficult to tell.

Because when you look past the obvious shortfalls and start to play the game for any decent length of time, Deadly Premonition becomes exceptionally good. The game has obviously been a total labour of love for the developers, who must have set themselves some extremely high goals, most of which would seem to be unattainable with the resources they had. But this is the reason why Deadly Premonition works so well once you stop laughing at the unintentionally bad music, the crazy scenarios and mad characters, youre left with a game that is totally engrossing. The developers achieved their goal of making a totally coherent and believable world, with great characters and a phenomenal storyline, without the budget for next-gen polish. Once the comedy value of the unusual presentation starts to wane, youre totally absorbed in the story, and enjoying the game as it captivates you and drags you into its own crazy world. You'll enjoy the good elements of the game, but also enjoy the bad parts because you'll laugh along with it. Its like an utterly insane Shenmue, which gets inside your head in a way that many better known games of similar genres can't touch.

The town of Greenvale initially seems small, but as you start to meet the inhabitants and explore, you'll find there's a lot going on. Each of the characters you meet have side-quests for you to perform, awarding prizes such as better weapons, a faster car, trading cards to collect and even parts of a skeleton which you can collect to give to a ghostly gravedigger. And as the game continues, you realize that the goal to make a free exploration, sandbox world with real living characters has been achieved. In fact, its incredible. You'll see people getting into their cars and driving to work, and the game actively encourages exploration and interaction with the residents. For example, when the storyline dictates that you meet someone at a specific location at a specific time, you have total freedom to arrive on any day you wish. In the meantime you can meet other people, complete some side-quests and explore Greenvale to your hearts content. Then, when you feel it's time to progress the overall story, you head to the location as planned. As long as you arrive at the appropriate time of day, it doesn't matter which day you choose. Neither the side-quests or the flexible adherence to timekeeping is mentioned in the manual, yet these are crucial to know in order to allow you to explore.


Deadly Premonitons weakest element is the shooting sections. The controls are clunky and the automatic aiming takes away almost all challenge. These sections look and feel like a poor PS2 game, and there's not a great deal of fun to be had. Deadly Premoniton was originally intended to be all about the exploration, and the shooting sections were added later at the request of the publishers. They can be quite tedious and you never know that a shooting section is coming until it happens. This can be frustrating, as you unwittingly walk through a door and find yourself in a 30 minute shooting section that you can't skip. Its not all bad news in this regard some of these sections are unintentionally hilarious, especially the ghostly wails that have to be heard to be believed. Later in the game, the addition of QTEs and some genuinely unsettling chase sequences add welcome variety. Hiding in the cupboard as the Raincoat Killer sniffs around the room can be extremely tense.

But the biggest problem with the shooting sections is that the game actually begins with one. From removing the shrink wrap and inserting the disk into the Xbox, you'll have to wade through about 45 minutes of tedious exploration and poor graphics, introducing the game to the player as if it was nothing more than a poor Resident Evil 4 clone. If you didn't know about the fantastic story to follow, you'd write this game off before getting to any of it. But be patient, as once this section is complete, the game begins properly and starts to grow on you.

Deadly Premonition is a game that rewards that patience many times over. All of its faults are vastly outweighed by the moments of pure joy you feel whilst playing. Its absolutely the best game I've played in its genre, and one of my all time favourite games.

Initially drawn to the game in the same way a movie-goer would enjoy The Room or Samurai Cop, it was only when the joke started to wear thin that I realised how good the game had become. The whole thing felt so captivating. I continued to play, so utterly transfixed by the characters, the story, the twists and turns and the curiosity of being unable to guess where the insane story would go next. After about 20 hours play I finally solved the case and as I drove my car back to the hotel I finally realised there was nothing left for me to do in Greenvale. I went to the bar and played darts for a while, but I knew I had to face the long drive out of town. I felt that I would really miss spending time in Greenvale, and as I left the hotel on the last day, I felt genuinely moved by the things Id seen and the people Id met. Powerful stuff.

Deadly Premonition is an astonishing game in every way. In a strange way, the crazy music and unusual graphics and animation end up being just as important a part of the game as the incredible story-line. It just works as it is, and I wouldn't want to change a thing. If this game was remade with advanced motion capture and next gen graphics, I think Id prefer the original. Its unique, all the elements come together to make something totally unlike anything else you've ever played.

I love it. And it's about a tenner.
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#2 Preacher

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 01:15 PM

Good review. I must admit though, I've found the game tough going since I got it for Christmas last year. I know there's loads to do from reading people's impressions, but I feel pressured to follow the main story, so I haven't actually indulged any side quests as of yet. What makes that slightly more frustrating than other games (Yakuza is the best example that springs to mind) is that the game hasn't even hinted at the possibility of side quests yet.

The other, slightly annoying thing is the sound mix. I play single-player stuff with headphones and it's really noticable how the voices are drowned out by music. So yeah, I've yet to really enjoy the game outside of a survival horror context.
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#3 Down by Law

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 10:40 AM

Brilliant game. I started it last October and finished it this April, it's hard work to play but the rewards are more than worth it. Great music as well - all my thoughts are in the original thread but yeah, nice review for a classic game :)
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#4 dumpster

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 07:25 PM

The side quests can be really good fun, but they are not mentioned in the narrative of the game, or even the instruction manual.

For example, if you go to the nightclub, SWERY65, you'll find the side quest to play darts. It's a really good darts game and a lot of fun. But you could complete the whole game without ever even entering the nightclub. Also, most characters have multiple side quests, and often you are awarded some decent upgrades by completing them. For example, if you complete George's sidequests early on, you get a police radio that allows you to warp instantly to any location you previously visited. Also If you meet the guy behind the counter at the milk bar, he'll give you a side quest that can earn you an infinite machine gun. These 2 items together allow you to skip the long driving sequences and play through the shooting sections a lot more quickly. Buy you could probably play through the entire game not realising that the game even has side quests. I think it's reasons like that the some reviews say 3/10, others mark it up to 10/10. You really need to be told this is a great game, because that first evening's play gives no indication of how wonderful it is going to become.
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#5 charlesr

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Posted 05 March 2012 - 04:03 PM

Agreed - it's a great game. Although skipping the long driving sequences should be avoided because the chat in the car is special.
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#6 Mr. Domino

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 01:16 PM

Agreed - it's a great game. Although skipping the long driving sequences should be avoided because the chat in the car is special.


Yeah, but York had a limited number of conversations. I did my first playthrough without the radio, which I didn't even know existed until looking at a FAQ after beating the game. Having recently gone back to grab the trading card achievement, I know I'll make it a point to get the radio on my next playthrough. Commuting wouldn't be so bad if the car didn't burn through gas so ridiculously quick.
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#7 Lorfarius

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 09:44 PM

Jeez what were they thinking with the opening section? It looks ugly as sin and adds zero to the experience. I barely made it 10 minutes in before I started thinking I should just cut and run. Just glad I knew it was going to be different otherwise I'd have missed out.
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#8 Soulstar

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 06:39 PM

I was looking at this today on e-bay although the Jap version instead which is known as Red Seeds. I think you need to get that version for the PS3 as DP isn't actually on it, however I also learned that there's a new one either out or about to come out or something which adds some updates to the original including PS3 Move features. I'd read about the wildly varying scores that this title was critically recieved from very low to very high. It had gotten me intreagued and as I still frequently play the PS2, I may be alright as far as the graphics go, so might just pick it up sometime.
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#9 Raoull duke

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Posted 14 July 2012 - 12:00 PM

I wanted to like this game, I really did. But it rubbed shit into my eyes at every turn, worst gameplay ever. I got about half way through it, before realizing life was too short. I'm never gonna play a game that is no fun to play ever again.
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#10 Soulstar

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Posted 30 July 2012 - 08:00 PM

Surely it can't be as bad as Alone in the Dark Inferno, please tell me it's better than that shit.
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#11 Mentazm

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 01:25 PM

I'm hoping to see it for a tenner somewhere at some point. Had it from lovefilm and played the first few chapters. My feelings ran from hatred to pure bliss.
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#12 Soulstar

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Posted 20 August 2012 - 11:52 AM

Stragely enough I got this same feel that i'd expect to get from this game after seeing the disaster tile SOS on the PS2 recently. It looked absolutely shite in some ways, but while I was working as a catering assistant moving a trolly around posh folk and getting told off for being slow, it felt like "shit its gonna kick off soon, there's leaks and shit everywhere and no one has noticed" and reminded me of the Final Destination films. I didn't watch much else and instantly wanted the game and still do. I'm assuming that this game has that same sort of intreague about it.
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#13 dumpster

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 01:43 PM

Rewritten it and corrected a load of spelling and grammar issues. Played through it a second time recently and it's still as good as ever. Got more out of it having played it through before, managed to speed through the stuff I didn't like and linger longer in the good stuff.
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