Recently, a friend convinced me to play Swery’s Deadly Premonition. He marketed it to me as a horror game. As a MASSIVE horror fan, I was on board! He said it does have its silly moments, but it has a rich storyline and it is, quite frankly, “frickin’ amazing!” Now, many, many hours into the game, I am not sure I agree with my friend at all? Right now I am thinking it is horrifying for all the wrong reasons… And my big question is how on earth did this game gain a cult following and a sequel?
Firstly, Deadly Premonition’s story is batshit! At first, its premise seems unoriginal. It follows detective agent Francis York Morgan, (“people call me York”) as he investigates a series of brutal murders in the small town of Greenvale. The stories beats are that expected of the detective genre. However, York frequently holds his hand to his ear to discuss his inner thoughts to an unknown entity called Zack. York often warps to a strange dimension which is teaming with zombie-like monsters called “shadows.” For some reason, these monsters’ torsos are bent backward at a right angle and they walk backward and moan. If they catch you, they stick an arm down your throat. If this isn’t bizarre enough, at one point York sees the initials FK in his coffee! What?
It looks and plays like a piece of shit. Deadly Premonition was released in 2010. When you compare this:
You could say the game’s look and feel is most certainly out-dated! It’s hard to believe that these two games were released in the same year. And then there is the menu screen. As you press the start button, picture this; an extremely loud, shrill noise startles you while tree branches unfold to reveal a bunch of items– such as a TV and a fireplace– in a clearing. You want to get to the game map, but you get lost in a sea of other game options and you go around in a huge circle missing the option every time. This aspect of the game feels very knock-off PS1 game for sure. Aesthetics aside, the game mechanics are also clunky. Driving the car feels like driving an ice block across a sheet of ice. Again, what?
Lastly, the music and dialogue is crazy! The soundtrack has a diverse repertoire of about five songs. These tracks are often used non-contrapuntally and create a very confusing and muddled tone and I am almost 100% certain this was not intentional. Not only do these tracks not fit the scene, but the music levels are all over the place. During one song, dialogue levels will be perfect. However, the song will then change and the dialogue will get drowned out with trumpet! And then there is the actual dialogue. At times it feels like the lines were written by someone who has never actually had a conversation with another human being. Here is my favourite exchange:
Emily: “Eww York, some of us are trying to eat.”
York: “I know Emily. I am one of them.”
So why, oh why– despite these flaws– am I still playing this game? Well, it has a special charm. Deadly Premonition puts a spell on the player and engulfs them into this bizarre, crazy world full of bad graphics and a peculiar story and somehow creates an enjoyable experience. Jesus Christ, I can’t believe I have given this game so many willing hours, but the truth is, I will be giving it more.