Written by sPINDRAFT 12/10/2013
The word that comes to mind straight away is strange, I mean honestly, I don’t know what to make of this game. It is not horror as far as I can tell, its a comical murder mystery with some weird, scary trips thrown in for good measure that seem to have more to do with York’, I mean Zach, I mean that guy needs the most help of all. The whole damn town of Greenvale needs some help.
Originally released in 2010 for XBox 360 this is the apparently revamped version for Windows just out this year by Rising Star Games, a publishing company that releases Japanese games to the rest of the world for Access Games which is HQ’d in Osaka, Japan. Written by a fellow by the name of Hidetaka “Swery” Suehiro, you can get a trading card pic of him in the Steam version of this baffling story, it actually won a Guinness World Reacord as “The Most Critically Polarizing Survival Horror Game” in 2012. Now that title should be fairly easy to decipher but for those having trouble with it that means there was never any measurable middle road, you either loved it or outright hated it and the two sides did not share tea.
You play as FBI Agent Francis York Morgan, just call him York thats what everybody calls him, who arrives in the small town of Greenvale (on some websites this town is listed as midwest but the post office in game clearly says Washington State) via a car wreck after which you must hike through the woods battling some kind of zombie like folks until you finally end up on the side of a wooded highway some distance out of town. After running down the road for a bit you come across the sheriff’s deputy Emily Wyatt waiting on a bridge for your arrival. Like some kind of wraith the Sheriff George Woodman magically appears on the bridge and goes into the typical small town sheriff, got it under control and don’t need your federal interference routine. The dialogue for the most part is tolerable at this point but it will quickly become apparent after arriving in town that David Lynch and Mark Frost as well as Joel and Ethan Coen are far better at writing this sort of cult- cryptic, weird-ass kind of back woods crime-comedy-drama (they are the writng groups of “Twin Peaks” and “Fargo” respectively, (“Fargo” is actually true but with a Coen twist).
Lets move along to a mechanical gripe for the moment and the one that grabbed me nearly right from the beginning is the camera view. In most 3D games, no matter the inital forward looking view or whether you get options on this or not, you would generally get a full range looking up or down (well maybe down is slightly more limited), I mean even the original was released in 2010 and thats not ancient by game standards. In ‘Deadly Premonition’ you get a very limited upward view in the main game which sucked because at times the sky was way more interesting than the immediate surroundings. This didn’t really bother me too much at first though I thought it was kind of weird to have a 2D functonality in a 3D game world but then I peaked in a window at the Sheriff’s Office (yeah, good ole York has lots of issues) and the full range of view in all directions was readily available and worked like a champ. Needless to say I became suspect of the drive behind full quality presentation to the gamer and it was not just the camera views, something felt short here for lack of a better way to say it. Even the graphics, especially outdoor items like trees, seemed to be a mix of 2D and 3D builds; not neceassarily prominent or bad but it does make trees look odd in a 3D game world unless you know it is a 2D framework beforehand such as in games like WURM.
Anywho, I have made it to Episode 3 and I get my first nerve-chill in game. I am well into the scenario at the Greenvale Hospital and suffering from one of those red tinged, waking nightmares again and for some reason the damn ghouls are spooking me this time. I chalk it up to the more confined spaces of the hospital corridors and the inability to see around corners until you actually go around them, running smack into two of the creatures, which sets off some mass fumbling for your weapon and some of the most piss poor aiming to date. At times I could not hit the broad side of a barn. From the horror angle this is the best moment in game thus far, its just sad that it takes this long to reach any sort of real horror/scary like plateau (It is billed as a horror game last I checked). As I said before it is a good comical murder mystery with some horror elements that almost feel to be independent of the main game, like they were tacked on for good measure.
There are a lot of cool things going on in ‘Deadly Premonition’ such as being able to drive vehicles, this has crude functionality in game but I seem to remember the cars were hard to handle in ‘Alan Wake’ as well; maybe some day they will invent a controllable vehicle for this type of game. You can eat or sleep and even smoke cigs to help maintain your character (I agree, the smoking thing as a benefit to human fun and sociality is so 1970′s in America, and some other places, but remember the story takes place in the 80′s and was written in Asia). OK!
In all honesty this game is not my cup of tee and I have generally made myself stick with it to this point in order to give a fair report in this article. It is less horror than murder mystery (oh yeah, I’ve already said that a couple of times) but it does have vary dark undercurrents, the story is involved and according to the Wiki goes for at least six episodes so if weird, strange story concepts are down your alley you will get plenty with this one. Visually the game looks basically okay, the indoor scenes look good but the outdoors scenes, scenery and some buildings look cheap. The mini horror sections work well outdoors with the bland, watered down look (and the raining all the damn time doesn’t help, I know Washington state is like one of the wettest places on earth but it does not rain every day, it is mostly just cloudy all the time for a portion of the year).
For me the rain was not a compliment but one will have to embark on their own journey to Greenvale in order to decide which side of the polarized globe you will take up residence. There is supposedly no measurable middle road with this game but as for me there are things I like about ‘Deadly Premonition’, things I did not care for and other items I was like ok, right, well, damn, uhm, let me get back to you on that one. Maybe I should have brought my alter-ego along for the ride as well.
Alright, thats enough babbliing from this writer, suffice it to say that the story is intelligent and has a nice twist if you bother to read it at all or play through and find out the hard way. There is a reason for Zach’s, I mean York’s, madness and if you had to live in Greenvale year round you could say there is a special madness shared by all, special being the key word; I mean the big, tough sheriff breaking out with arobics for no reason in the middle of an investigation at work and then complaining that his trainer is absent like a true winer — woohoo, what a ride. Enjoy the game or not, either way tell us what you think of it.
HAG Score - 7.8