Deadly Premonition is like a bad foreign FBI show that would have probably worked better as a anime. Instead of getting a good FBI show, you’re put in the shoes of Agent Francis York Morgan as he tries to solve a murder case in a little town called Greenvale. A serial killer has been making their way through this troubled town and its up to Francis York Morgan and his “sidekick”, Zach to solve the mystery surrounding the murders and this mysterious town.
Before I go deep into detail, I want to talk about Deadly Premonition’s main character, Francis York Morgan. He’s one of the most unique characters I’ve gotten to play as in a very long time. I wouldn’t be surprised if you fall in love with this character like I did. Just the fact that he took a job looking for a serial killer that cuts off their victims tongues adds another layer of interest in him. His dead tone responses in the conversations York has with some of the towns people comes off as humorous, at times. He even has a friend that he calls “Zach” that he talks to in different situations throughout the game. The main reason I pushed through this game was because I wanted to find out more about York and his friend Zach. But having to feed, clean, and make sure York gets his rest made the game’s only sim-like feature sometimes feel like a chore instead of something that could have possibly been fun.
I sometimes thought to myself that this game was purposely bad for some weird charm, and that’s me just being optimistic. If you’re expecting this game to blow you away with it’s graphics, or gameplay, you’re going to be highly disappointed. Deadly Premonition’s graphics could have been passable if the game was released in 2007. The only thing that looks decent in this game are some of the character models. Deadly Premonition’s soundtrack is great, but there’s not really much to say other than that since there are only a handful of songs that play repeatedly through the entire game. What this game does do right, though is telling an interesting narrative filled with some of the most wackiest and interesting characters that fit well into the story making you want to progress through the game just to learn more about them and their importance in the game’s narrative. I hated the story for the majority of the game but came to love it when it started to become interesting 13 hours in. For the charm that these characters have, though. This may not be enough to find it worth playing through the entire game for.
Some of the greatest parts of this game were ruined by the game’s horrible design. Picture taking detective gameplay elements, adding some of Resident Evil 4’s gameplay and Silent Hill’s world cross-over mechanic, and making it worse. That’s what you get in Deadly Premonition. Playing on Hard Mode for my first playthrough, I was expecting more of challenge. Instead, my bullets dealt less damage turning enemies into bullet sponges. The game felt extremely easy, and became very tedious very fast. Having free roaming in the game actually made my experience worse. Half the time I felt like I was playing a driving simulator. This wouldn’t have been a problem if I actually had any reason for doing the side-missions the town had to offer. They give you this huge world to explore but it’s so empty and dead that you lose any drip of motivation you had to explore every corner of this town.
You progress through Deadly Premonition in the form of Episodes. During these Episodes York will end up at multiple crime scenes where he will then somehow cross over to another world where the game tries to be spooky and fails. There’s only a certain amount of times I’m going to be afraid of the same enemies over and over again until they stop looking scary. While York is in this other world you’ll gather evidence and start a quick phase called Profiling. During the Profiling phase a set of images will pop up on the screen; depending on how much evidence you have found, and York will put the pieces together that will give him more information that can help him with the case. After looking through all of the evidence during the Profiling phase, you’ll somehow end up in the normal world again hardly ever questioning what just happened. I didn’t have a problem with the different levels I found myself in, but because of the game’s awful free roaming, it really broke the game apart when you needed to go from point A to point B. This game would have probably benefited from a level progression system where I could select different episodes and chapters within the game.
Just when the game starts getting anywhere near exciting the boring dialogue in the majority of cutscenes slowed down the pace and took away any excitement that I had started to build up. Voices tend to cut out due to certain camera angles during the cutscenes that could have kept the game’s high moments intense if I could only hear what the characters were saying.
A huge world with nothing to do except for boring side missions that don’t give, nor take away from the experience. Deadly Premonition is too ambitious for it’s own good, and just couldn’t deliver. I’m sure there’s something there for the people who are willing to look for it, but you are going to have search hard. I know this will find a place in some people’s hearts but if I had to say one thing about Deadly Premonition, it would be that this game is not for everyone.