|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Access Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ignition Entertainment||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 23, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Sound is horribly unbalanced in terms of volume. Music can swell and overtake dialogue, leaving it hard to make out what is being said. Although captions across the bottom of the screen make it possible to read, this should have been leveled out. Music is also repetitive though oftentimes funny; I swear I heard a kazoo solo on one of the tracks. Sound effects are lacking in number and variety. There seems to be one sound for crashing into anything, whether it's a bush, a wooden fence, or other vehicles.
That's why Deadly Premonition is terrible. A slew of technical problems that is nearly unforgivable. It's subpar to look at, hard to play, and derivative of several other popular games from the last decade and beyond. There's no two ways about it; this game is not good. So However, let me tell you why it is also awesome.
Let's start with an abridged version of the plot: FBI agent Francis York Morgan, who has a second personality, named Zach, who he frequently audibly speaks to, is investigating a series of murders of young women when another incident takes place on the outskirts of the small town of Greenvale. York, as he prefers to be called, eventually arrives to the town after wrecking his car and battling the shadow-zombie-ghosts that may or may not exist. After getting there he is greeted by the local sheriff and his deputy, the attractive Emily Wyatte. All characters are introduced in dramatic fashion in a still frame shot with name and title along with generally appropriate (or inappropriate) music swelling. With Emily's introduction, the music seemed to be some sort of sultry love tune that had me laughing for a solid minute at the ridiculousness of it. Shockingly, the sheriff doesn't like the FBI agent infringing on his turf and causing havoc in his town. From there you go to your hotel and the game really begins.
The dialogue in the game is truly remarkable and bizarre. I have no idea what the writers were thinking, but I'd love to know how the production meetings went. When making the insanely long drives around town, York will have conversations with his split personality Zach. They seem to have a particular fondness for movies and bounce around discussing classic 80s movies and directors as though it were perfectly normal. York often talks to Zach around other people, who seem oddly at ease with his schizophrenia. Unfortunately, not every conversation is given voice recordings, but instead text pops up that halt movement until exited.
Due to the disjointed and random nature of the game, along with the difficulty of describing how a game so awful can still be fun, I'll present a brief list of the absurdities that makes Deadly Premonition oddly appealing and often (unintentionally?) hysterical. Lollipops are frequently lying around streets, along with jars of pickles. Crackers cost $35 in vending machines. The option to dry clean your clothes when dirty, and to shave (frankly, I'm disappointed there isn't a shaving mini-game which could leave York nicked up with blood soaked tissue stuck to his face). Conversations that are so out of place and bizarre within the game's context that they must be appreciated. York's insanity is so severe that he casually looks to his coffee for secret, spelled out messages.
Of course, there's more (a whole lot more) things that made me want to keep playing beyond the purpose of review. But let's be clear: Deadly Premonition is not a good game. Not in the sense that we use to quantify and rate games, anyway. The problems are pronounced and obvious, but somehow it has a charm and appeal that defies logic. This game is not for everyone. In fact, it won't be for most people. But, at an amazing value of twenty dollars, it may be a worthy investment for those that are bored of their current slate of games and are ready to put up with the numerous frustrations to experience the inane charm that Deadly Premonition offers, but don't say I didn't warn you.
CCC Freelance Writer