‘Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut’ Review: Bad Coffee

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Written by Kevin Kennedy, @thekevmiester

It’s been over 3 years since Deadly Premonition came out and polarised the critics like no other game has before. Enough people liked the game enough to warrant a director’s cut, complete with extended scenes and added narrator, as well as earning Hidetaka Suehiro, aka SWERY, a cult following. Just what is the deal with this game and why is it so divisive?

A young woman has been the victim of a grizzly murder in the small town of Greenvale. The murder has rocked the town’s inhabitants to their very core, with some quite frankly having a break down. An FBI agent named Francis York Morgan is called in to assume control of the case and find the killer. However, our hero finds more than he bargained for as the town hold many secrets of it’s own beyond this killing. Though with the help of some psychic abilities of his own and the local police, our hero sets out to find the truth.

Does this plot sound familiar? Well it should if you have even heard of the David Lynch series “Twin Peaks”. It’s uncanny. From a mysterious Red room that doesn’t exist in the real world, a gruff no nonsense local cop who helps the FBI to a crazy old lady who constantly carries around something (a pot this time, no logs). I could go on! It’s not just similar it’s nearly identical and quite frankly a rip-off.

Having said that, the story has it’s merits. It’s definitely very weird and there are a few scenes which can be downright unsettling very memorable. The only problem is that it takes a long time for anything of interest to happen whatsoever. The end of episodes usually have the most entertaining scenes in them, though 90% of the time it is a tireless slog.

Another issue is that the gameplay feels totally separate to the story. Every so often you’ll fight strange zombie like creatures that seem to exist only in Morgan’s head. An explanation is never particularly given for these segments, while a flashback explains some elements there’s no reason as to why they keep showing up. It’s as if the game just wants to throw obstacles at you but can’t be bothered backing them up with context.

Furthermore, for a game that insists in a fairly epic 30+ hour running time, there seems to be little to no polish when it comes to dialogue. If you take a drink every time Morgan introduces himself with the same animation, you’ll be very merry by the end of the first episode.

Also, an interesting aspect of Morgan, the fact that he has an imaginary friend, is never brought up despite the fact that he talks to him in-front of people. He does bring it up eventually, and it’s even quite a sweet scene, but that’s almost 12 hours into the game. Taking your time with a couple episodes of a TV show? Fine. But over 10 hours of game time? That’s a bit much.

In the interest of not passing my word limit, I should probably stop myself there, though again trust me I could go on. Suffice to say that this is a boring game. The occasional moments of interest are lost amidst a bog of tedious boredom. Playing with a friend will bring enough laughs as you can simply pass the controller back and forth, but playing alone is an endurance test.

Many like to argue that to make an effective horror game you have to limit or disable the player somehow, to bring about more tension. While I don’t disagree, I do think there is a difference between “limited controls” and “bad controls”. Morgan handles like a battle tank and his cars like a three wheeled trolly.

Things get worse when you take your gun out. Aiming is stiff and bizarrely limited, with the auto aim being incredibly unreliable. Often times you’ll have to run to or from the enemy to actually hit them or walk up a ramp just so you can be at the same level as something you want to shoot.

It’s dreadful.

A boss fight near the end is pretty much rendered unplayable due to the horrible controls. After a while, and in an attempt to shorten my run time, I simply decided to charge through the enemies to the finish line. It’s easy enough as the zombies are too slow to stop you and lose interest quickly.

There is a nugget of a good idea in this mess however. Hold down a button and Morgan will hold his breath, making him invisible to the enemies. No idea why this works in the context of the game but it’s still neat as you have a stamina bar that runs down when you use it. In another game it could be a cooler concept.

Speaking of good ideas, here’s one that nobody likes; quick time events! While I don’t mind them myself, this game takes things to new levels of terrible. The game barely responds to your commands causing York to go for a slight jog as opposed to a sprint, plus you’re going to have the watch the same uninspired chase scene over and over.

As mentioned below, I was unable to finish this game. This is due to a QTE near the very end of the game, which has you running down a circular staircase from some fat monster thing. I could dodge his attacks, I could even walk a few steps after leaving the pause menu but I couldn’t run. Not even a little. He would just stand there waiting for death.

One thing I really don’t understand is why this had to be an open-word game. What benefit does driving around this barren, boring world bring? Despite there being little in the world, why are the maps so awkward to read resulting in taking a wrong turn a few too many times? As well as traversing the world, you must also keep your hero well rested and fed, or else he’ll start losing health.

And be sure to wash your clothes unless you want flies to start swarming around you. What any of this has to do with the game is beyond me.

There is a whole lot of WHY in the design of this game. To the extent that I had trouble playing due to laughing too much. I honestly feel that I’m not doing the game any justice with this review; it is truly a train-wreck, from top to bottom. The only enjoyment you can get from it is at it’s expense.

The music has it’s moments of bizarre fascination but apart from that the presentation is horrid. There is no art style here, just bog standard character models with awkward, stiff animations. While some of the characters can actually be quite charming, the acting is very awkward and possibly lost in translation.

Everything just feels second rate, looking more like a late PS2 game than anything else. Music cues and sound effects cut out at a moments notice and awkwardly overlap, though I did enjoy the squirrels at the beginning that had Monkey sound effects.

This is just such a horrible PC port of a dreadful game. I’m not even talking about the 720 resolution that has angered the PC master-race. Expect the game to bug out often or just downright not work. Even if it were to work, the occasional moments of interest aren’t enough here with such horrid game-play and presentation. The only enjoyment to get here is to get some friends around the Xbox 360 version and have a good laugh. If that was Swery’s goal then mission accomplished.

The game has since been patched, fixing some of the bugs, though you’d need to swap the fly swatter for a sledgehammer to fix the major problems. Were it on the Xbox, the score might be slightly higher (it wouldn’t get much higher than a 2), but taking the PC version on it’s own terms, it’s not playable.

The Final Word: Awful, just awful.

Editor’s note: due to an unfortunate, game-breaking bug, the reviewer was unable to finish the game.

 
  • chris99x

    I can’t decide what’s worse, the PC port of DP or this review.

  • chris99x

    Poor grammar, punctuation and spelling aside, I find it strange that one of the images used in this article didn’t even come from the game. The one of the two old men is from an extremely early version of the game. Nobody caught this?

    • Adam Dodd

      The image was my fault. I linked the wrong pic.

      • chris99x

        The new one is also not from the released version, unfortunately. These images were released when the game was still in development and titled Rainy Woods.

  • chris99x

    Sorry to keep harping on this review, but just thought I’d at least mention a one other inaccuracy here as well. I’ll leave the reviewer’s opinions alone.

    “I tried to fix it but to no avail, plus it seems that the visionary SWERY has no plans to release a patch anytime soon. So yeah, avoid this game.”

    As recently as Nov. 21, RSG has said progress on the patch is “good.” SWERY himself apologized for the port as well. All of this came from a quick Google search. I’m not sure where the “it seems that” part came from, because all signs point to the opposite.

  • biosquid2

    Conforming to a standard and challenging a paradigm both have their merits. Deadly Premonition breaks away from video game tropes present in numerous modern-day IP’s. It doesn’t force you to hang around A.I. buddies. It doesn’t constantly spoon-feed you information. It plain doesn’t hold your hand. Deadly Premonition offers an enthralling mystery, in an open world with non-linear gameplay. It only seems boring if you expect to play it like any other game, which it isn’t. Don’t just complete the main missions. Side missions are there if you actively look for them, as opposed to having them already cataloged for you. They offer volumes of insight on the case and enrich the overall campaign. If you can’t understand why Deadly Premonition was developed as an open world game, you didn’t give it the time of day. Admittedly, the world isn’t on the same level as the GTA series, but it’s definitely more alive than Batman: Arkham City. E.g., every major NPC has a schedule (I tailed Lily Ingram to the bank when she wasn’t in the Milk Barn and spotted Thomas MacLaine dancing by himself in his apartment). If you observe the world closely, you can come upon bizarre findings relevant to the case; you just have to make the effort to look. York has an undeniable conviction for his work. As the player, try not to be a stereotypical, lazy gamer.

    Regarding the seemingly inexplicable events in Deadly Premonition, they’re perfect the way they are. However, you could perceive the Otherworld segments as visual manifestations of Zach’s mental dexterity and intellectual prowess. E.g., York’s encounters with the Shadows can be perceived as abstract representations of Zach’s rumination during the process of gathering evidence. Ultimately, if you have to ascribe a game’s excellence based on whether it provides explanatory context for every event, then that says more about you than it does the game. How so? It signifies that you’re predisposed to want it—since that’s how most content creators pander to their customers. You’re frustrated because Deadly Premonition utilized mystery and ambiguity, as opposed to inundating you with cathartic revelations and deus ex machina. It’s refreshing to see different takes on narratives, but only if you have an open mind and stay receptive. Additionally, the revealing of Zach’s purpose is tastefully done. How is this endgame-reveal different from any other for you to call it “a bit much”? Would you say The Sixth Sense took too long to reveal that Bruce Willis was a dead man walking?

    “This is just such a horrible PC port of a dreadful game.” You’re half right about this one. You need to distinguish between a bad game and a great game mired by a bad port. Deadly Premonition’s port is dreadful, not the game itself. The limited aiming and unpredictable crashing are bugs exclusive to PC. The poor vehicle handling is yet another fault. However, York does not handle like a tank. His handling is similar to Shepard’s from the Mass Effect series; when Shepard isn’t in combat (not bad at all). You were grasping at straws with that remark, even though you didn’t have to as there are other valid deficiencies. If you put thought into your review, you’d realize that many bad games don’t deserve a score of 1. It would take an extremely broken game (they exist) to warrant this type of derision. Sure, Deadly Premonition isn’t as polished as Crysis 3, The Witcher 2, or Metro: Last Light. Despite that, the soundtrack and narrative is superb, and more than makes up for its shortcomings in gameplay and graphical fidelity.

    Rising Star Games is solely the publisher for the PC release of Deadly Premonition; Access Games developed it. You have Rising Star Games incorrectly listed as both developer and publisher.

    The Final Word on Your Review: Awful, just awful.

  • biosquid2

    To make my previous comment more clear, this isn’t a matter of respecting one’s opinion. A video game review is inherently subjective. What you’ve written is a series of repulsive remarks leading to an insulting score, without the rationale to back it all up. Most of your complaints are just you splitting hairs, something unwelcome in a review of any kind.

    Again, Rising Star Games is a publisher for the PC release. ACCESS GAMES is the developer of Deadly Premonition. Shitty port or not, fix your glaring mistake.

  • Christopher Nolan

    You sir, did not get just how AWESOME this game really is!