Deadly Premonition Review
Let’s get this out of the way: Budget survival horror title Deadly Premonition was coded in 20 minutes in the back of a moving van. Walking up a set of stairs in-game is even more difficult than dragging my fat ass up the stairs in real life. Characters inexplicably hunch over at 90 degrees to show you that they’re old people, bippity jazz lounge music doesn’t match what’s on the screen, inane and poorly-scripted cut scenes go on for an eternity, and you know it’s the bad guy when he comes along because his eyes glow bright orange.
Playing through Deadly Premonition is an excruciating exercise in my two least favorite things: patience and geometry. Half of your effort will be spent anticipating improbable invisible walls. If you criticized Resident Evil 5 for having outdated controls, wait until you get a load of this puppy. It's a royal pain in the ass.
If that is something you are willing to accept—and this is one of the biggest ifs ever issued—you are in for a treat. You may play this game and abandon it for its crippled mechanics and ancient design—and you have every right to do that. But if you’re the kind of seasoned/cynical (the first often breeds the second) gamer who can laugh at out-dated gameplay, awful jokes, and (presumably) unintentionally hilarious caricatures (effeminate policeman with an affinity for squirrels, mouth-breathing receptionist), you’re going to have an awesome time with this game. Did I mention that the protagonist talks at length about classic B-movies like Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and Tremors? Whether it’s self-referential, a nerd high-five, or total nonsense, it works. If those movies appeal to you or marked your childhood like they did mine, it’s safe to say you’ll enjoy Deadly Premonition, even in the smallest amounts.
Deadly Premonition wins points for having an engaging story. It’s decidedly different—many have compared it to Twin Peaks, but somehow it manages to out-Lynch David Lynch. The protagonist, FBI agent Francis York Morgan (please, call him York) reads his fortune in his coffee, talks out loud to—wait, is he talking to me and calling me Zach? What an oddball. Other characters deserve mention but warrant discovering on their own. While this game is, in many ways, “so bad it’s good,” the story actually is an incredible interactive experience despite its deceptively traditional “young woman murdered in a small town” beginning. Unfortunately, frustrating gameplay pulls you right out of it. With a bigger budget and updated mechanics, this could have been a true classic.
Past critics have rated Deadly Premonition anywhere from a two to a 10, and it deserves every score it’s gotten. If you’re a fan of B-movies and want to invite a few friends over to create your own Mystery Science Theater 3000-style dialogue—or even if you’re on solo mode looking for a great story at the cost of palatable gameplay—this is a one-of-a-kind title and you owe it to yourself to pick it up. At a retail price of $19.99, you can’t beat Deadly Premonition's cheap laughs and unique story. But if you’re looking for a straightforward, next-gen gaming experience, avoid this one at all costs.