With a looming sequel on the way and a new version of the original on the Nintento Switch, we give you all the knowledge you need on Deadly Premonition
If you’ve never played Deadly Premonition I need to tell you two things. First, I understand and I get it. Second, you really should consider playing this game.
There’s really no other video game in the entire world that I’ve found to be this endearing and likable despite worlds of jank. There’s just something weirdly enjoyable about it even when you’re fully frustrated by the gameplay in front of you.
If you still don’t want to play it but want to sound educated in front of your friends, read on. Just like the game, the history of the game is just as wild and even more janky. If you would rather listen to our podcast review, click HERE:
THE FIRST STEP
Deadly Premonition is a reboot of another game called “Rainy Woods” that never came to be. RW was in production for three years before its cancellation in 2007 due to insurmountable technical issues. Shortly after it was canned the Rainy Woods base game was given new assets, a tweaked story and a new protagonist, Francis York Morgan. To put it another way, the turd known as Rainy Woods was shined up and dipped in gold. That golden turd became what’s known (and weirdly loved) today as Deadly Premonition.
THE JUMP TO THE WEST
So it started with a base game architecture that was already kind of off and it got worse from there. The original Japanese version of the game featured significantly less combat and played out as mostly a detective procedural game. In the jump to the west publishers demanded changes that they believed would make the game more palatable to the western audience. Among the changes were multiple additional combat areas.
The problem is, the combat is perhaps the major thorn in the side of this experience. In the original X-Box version of the game firing your weapon is a three button sequence and your character is planted while they shoot (big yikes). Enemies are so overly generic they get repetitive after two or three engagements. Developers didn’t push too hard on making silky smooth combat because it wasn’t a heavy feature of the original version of the game and they were constrained with time and money (mostly money). So instead we now have a game with a plethora of combat phases and a combat system that feels about five years behind its time.
The fan base reaction is what really solidified Deadly Premonition in gaming history and it’s fair to say we’re in store for another round of “mixed reviews” since the game has appeared on Switch.
In the gaming landscape of today, NPCs with 24 hr cycles aren’t really that uncommon, but when DP first launched it was a large selling point of the game. You can follow NPCs on all their daily routines, and even creepily watch them through windows or follow their cars if you wish. Once you get to know the main character Francis York Morgan, you realize that tailing random characters through their daily routine actually strangely fits in with the personality of the main character.
DP holds an actual world record for widest review margin for a video game in history. It’s not uncommon to see scores below 30 and then click to another website where it boasts a 97 review.
From a personal perspective I loved playing this game. I had a big stupid dumb smile on my face the entire time.
From a personal perspective I loved playing this game. I had a big stupid dumb smile on my face the entire time. The combat sections were by far the worst part but none of them were overly annoying to the point of quitting. If you’re familiar with shooters and navigating dungeon areas you’ll get through the combat sections quickly.
HEAD SPINNING MUSICAL THEMES
On the audio side Deadly Premonition is one of the strangest experiences in gaming or really any other medium that uses audio. Allow me to explain.
There are several repeated musical cues in Deadly Premonition. There’s the saxophone heavy detective music, we’ll call this one (detective time). There’s a kind of whacky sounding jokey song when someone is being silly, we’ll call this (silly time). And there’s also the basic world exploring music, we’ll call this (driving time).
Within the course of one cut-scene the player is given all of these cues repeatedly in such quick succession you’re left wondering if it was a mistake. It usually goes like this.
Character makes a dark comment, (detective time) music
Literally the next line from another character is a joke, (silly time) music
A third character enters the room (driving time) music.
The musical themes interchange sometimes line by line all the way through a multiple minute cut-scene. It’s so strange and foreign to the trained ear that it leads one to believe that the music was mixed by an elementary school student who had a passion for theater but had never seen a play.
While this audio process was panned when the game released in the west, it’s now (years later) become one of the more endearing parts of this experience. Gamers have passed through their hate and emerged on the other side with a kind of eye-rolling appreciation for this. And that really is a microcosm of the game as a whole. What was once hatred has evolved to the point where we’re now getting a sequel thanks in large part to an underground fan-base that has kept this game alive long after it should be relevant.
The loveable-jank continues from there with the main line quest and story of Deadly Premonition. At the beginning we meet Francis York Morgan, who’s come to the fictional town of Greenvale, Washington to investigate the death of an eighteen year old woman. Her death bears eerie similarities to a few other murders that Morgan has worked on. The other cases mentioned throughout the game are also the fodder for the sequel story we’re getting when DP2 comes out.
Deadly Premonition is a sort of Mongolian BBQ of stories, literally any ingredient that seems good is thrown into the pot.
Typically at this point most detective stories will either go down a “government conspiracy” lane or a “supernatural being” lane or a “killer living among us in our own town” lane. Deadly Premonition goes down all of these paths full throttle and at the same time. If one tense pulsing story line is good, then three must be better. It makes Deadly Premonition a sort of “Mongolian BBQ” of story, literally any ingredient that seems good is thrown into the pot.
Perhaps my favorite part of the game is how flawed the main character is. Francis York Morgan is your typical “detective-savant” who’s strange personality is mirrored nicely by his skills of observation. There’s a Sherlock Holmes vibe to the way his canvases a crime scene and the way he interacts with others.
If you’re like most gamers out there you already have a backlog that’s intimidating and making you lose a lot of sleep. I would still ask you to give 3-5 hours to this game or at least spend some YouTube time with it. Once the sequel drops plenty of gamers will be asking “What the heck is this?” Francis York Morgan is happy to show you, right Zach?
Nathan is the co-host and co-creator of the Splash Damage Bros. Podcast. He has consumed no red seeds, that he is aware of. @thenatejc and @splashdamagebro