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Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut Review


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On 08/13/2013 at 12:00 PM by Vic Roman

One of the strangest gems out there.
RECOMMENDATION:

If you can look past terrible presentation and appreciate a rich narrative, this one’s worth your time.

Deadly Premonition: Director’s Cut is a one of a kind experience. It can be as creepy as it is delightful. It is intentionally and unintentionally funny. More than anything though, its packed full of personality.

Before I completely gush about what I loved in Deadly Premonition, there are a lot of cautionary issues to address that hinder the experience. At face value, Deadly Premonition looks like a terrible mess. The audio is often unbalanced, with some uneven dialogue tracks and annoying noises. The graphics look like an upscaled PS2 title with frame rate issues. Controls feel outdated as well, thanks to an inaccurate aiming system, awkwardly placed quick-time events, and vehicles with lousy handling. On top of all of those issues is the in-game map, which is near impossible to navigate.

Sounds pretty bad, right? There’s no getting around those faults, but everything else in the game is so good you might just overlook such fundamental mistakes.

Personality is the key to Deadly Premonition’s success. You play as Francis York Morgan… but call him York; that’s what everyone calls him. York is accompanied by a ton of eccentric people, including a man in a wheelchair wearing a gas mask, his caretaker who only speaks in rhymes, and York’s invisible friend Zach, who York talks to when he is breaking the fourth wall to communicate to you, the gamer.

Deadly Premonition takes you through the small town of Greenvale. As a hired FBI agent, York is sent there to investigate a murder of a girl. Along the way you become accustomed with the town and all of inhabitants, discovering a great narrative, despite the bad audio design. You spend a great deal of time exploring and interacting with Greenvale’s citizens. Characters seem to go about their days in a realistic fashion. At noon you can find many people on a lunch break and at anytime you will see someone doing errands the way you’d expect from townsfolk.

When you’re not walking around town, questioning people, or enjoying a seemingly meaningless conversation, you’re traversing through hellish areas, blasting away at zombies and other unsettling creatures. These are easily the worst parts of the game, as you’re forced to do all of the things the game fails at. Here’s where the controls will get to you, aiming will frustrate you, and quick-time events will take you by surprise. The zombies themselves come off as half creepy, and at times pretty funny. I don’t think “funny” is the vibe you’re supposed to get from these baddies, but it’s tough not to laugh at some of their awkward sounds and animations.

Luckily, the combat areas are the minority and they’re tolerable throughout, they’re just not enjoyable. I found myself hoping the combat was done sooner than later so I could get right back to exploring Greenvale.

Even though I wasn’t a fan of the combat sections, the juxtaposition of supernatural combat and delightful exploring is a nice touch. The game always has a dark mood, but the loveable characters and quirky music always remind you not to be so tense. Anyone familiar with David Lynch’s Twin Peaks TV series will know exactly what this feeling is like. It’s very clear that Deadly Premonition is influenced by Twin Peaks, so if you’re a fan of the show, you should definitely give this game a try.

Terrible presentation with amazing narrative sounds like an oxymoron, but it is exactly how to define Deadly Premonition. Look past the game’s faults and you’ll find an experience you’ll never forget. It is clearly a budget title and it makes me wonder what the studio could do when unhindered by limitations. Deadly Premonition feels like a past generation title. If it were released a decade ago, the game would have undoubtedly been one of the most beloved titles of the era.  Take my word for it when I say you should at least try this game if you get a chance—you might just fall in love with the strange small town of Greenvale.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:


All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.


These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.


This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.


Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.


Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.


A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.


 

Comments

Michael117

08/13/2013 at 07:21 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

This game isn't fun to play in any way at all, but once you get into it and you get to know the characters it's incredibly hard to walk away from. Once I boot the game up and I'm in Greenvale listening to the music and hearing the dialogue, I end up spending the whole rest of the evening playing the game unable to quit. It's a very time consuming game in all the worst ways, and ridiculous in how it hides super useful items like the fast-travel radio in an obtuse side quest, but it has so much charm and personality that I fall in love with it every time I play. It's a super ambitious design without any of the design experience to accomplish the ideas, but when you look at that type of game they're going for you can see all the ambition behind it. The characters and plot never cease to be interesting to me and often funny and silly, unquestionably weird. It's just the process of interacting with the plot and progressing it that sucks.

I know the horror sections are funny to a lot of people, the sound bite that plays when you kill a zombie is hilarious, but in general I find the horror sections to be scary! The sound design, visuals, and the way that zombies blur around as they walk towards you is creepy. I get stressed out by the atmosphere that they built in the otherworld sections. The combat and death sounds are the only parts that pull me out of it. Other than that I genuinely get freaked out being there.

BrokenH

08/13/2013 at 08:37 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

Heck, even the no-thrills edition of Deadly Premonition on the 360 was enough to make me sing its' praises for a long time! To this day I'd still probably call it the best survival horror/adventure game on the 360 but I can simultaneously understand why many folks would disagree with me.

I admit I'm a lot more tolerant of dated graphics and somewhat dated control schemes. That stated, for anyone who can love a game for its' characters and its' story telling they should totally pick this up!

Pacario

08/20/2013 at 10:46 AM Reply | Permalink | Report

What does the "Director's Cut" do for the game? What's been added or improved? I'm not clear why this has been rereleased.

Vic Roman Graphic Designer

08/20/2013 at 05:25 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

Good question, the changes were mostly miniscule so if you have the 360 version, it's pretty much the same, with little changes like a couple typo fixes, slightly better textures for some of the graphics (but the graphics suck anyways, so it doesn't really matter), Audio has been "balanced" but still sounds uneven, and it has a 3D option for the PS3, as well as a few small added scenes of the main character that don't add much.

It's nearly the same as the original release, so nothing special about the Director's Cut.

Pacario

08/22/2013 at 05:05 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

Hmm. Thanks for the response.

GrayHaired

08/13/2013 at 10:32 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

I think I might just give this one a try.  Thanks for the review

KnightDriver

09/01/2013 at 12:55 PM Reply | Permalink | Report

Love the weirdness. It's on my list.

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