Deadly Premonition (Or Red Seeds Profile in Japan), a genre defying game and then some. It’s got shooting, it’s got driving, it’s a survival horror, it’s a sandbox, it’s an investigation game, it’s a…it’s a…Hmmm…What isn’t it?
It’s a fine example of thinking outside of the box when it comes to gaming and if it wasn’t for it’s incredibly small budget and time restriction it would have changed everything we play today. This is where I wish Kickstarter campaigns would have been a popular practise earlier in the 7th generation. Nonetheless, Deadly Premonition quickly rocketed to cult status.
As I rank this game very highly in my top games of the 7th gen I felt it only natural to cover it for Halloween and maybe complete the director’s cut version to claim a very welcome, cherishable platinum trophy on the way.
Originally only available on the 360, I played Deadly Premonition on a whim. I remember seeing it EVERYWHERE at one point. It was amongst the pile of 360 games we had in the house at the time and I borrowed it as I thought it might be like Heavy Rain. How little I knew of what I’d just picked up. Everything I knew and had experienced in gaming was about to change.
Meet “Francis York Morgan“. But please, call him York. That’s what everyone does. It’s worth noting here that deadly Premonition carries very strong influence from the american TV serial drama Twin Peaks.
York is a very logical man. “There’s a correct procedure for everything”, he says early in the game as he introduces himself exactly the same way every time to different people. He could be seen as being slightly OCD, but that is of little concern because he constantly talks to someone called “Zach“, although no one is there. It doesn’t seem to be noticed by the townspeople for some reason, but then he usually turns around or does it in private.
He even has full blown conversations with Zach whilst driving in his car, usually about movies. York LOVES movies, he’s an aficionado when it comes to movies and he quotes real life movies we’ve all most probably seen, right down to who directed it and the year it came out. It makes driving without a radio in this game a joy and his conversations can be some 5 – 10 minutes long with “Zach”.
He loves coffee, always starts the day with it and uses it to solve mysteries. Yeah, you read that right. He pours the milk in and it tells him all he needs to know. Oddly, the clues the coffee gives are always right. Strange when you realise a single mug of coffee is all it took to solve the unsolvable. He’s also “very particular” about his biscuits “I’ll have you know”.
He also doesn’t get everyone’s reaction to his scar, which whilst it is barely noticeable, the townspeople react as if his whole face has been cut across. The scar is mentioned at the beginning when he claims he now has a story to tell about being attacked by a crazy cat lady who laced razor blades under her nails.
As you can tell, he’s quite a character and this is where Deadly Premonition draws you in.
To begin with in Deadly Premonition, I was both intrigued and confused. The atmosphere at the very beginning is very classic; spooky forest, stormy rain, dark…noises in the background. It felt very much like Silent Hill, so I pressed on.
Not 5 minutes in you get messed up and then attacked by some really creepy creature known as a Shadow.
These are the reanimated bodies of those of whom suffered a terrible fate in the past. They come out at night, in a storm or when someone is close to finding the truth of Greenvale, which is the area in this game.
Greenvale a vast woodland that was built upon it’s woodmill as the centre of the community, but that’s all in the past. Now it houses a dark secret of which is passed off as nothing but folklore.
No one goes out in the rain as the story goes a man in a red raincoat brandishing an axe known as The Raincoat Killer will hunt down and kill all of whom dare tread outdoors. The shops close and everyone locks their doors. For superstition it sure is followed strongly. Where does such a story come from? Well that would spoil a vast majority of the plot if I told you.
The music is incredibly random to begin with, I must say. It almost made me stop playing Deadly Premonition because I found it hard to concentrate or respond to stimulus thrown at me when the music comes along and completely throws you off. You’ll be investigating an area with people, find a body and the music will suddenly go from glum, sad tunes to upbeat Jazz you could dance to…and then it goes back to glum…to then go to some overy happy whistling tune over accousting chord strums.
It really messes with you. But this was the idea of it’s creator; “Swery65“. The idea is the music sets the feel. If people are sad, it plays sad music. If the person becomes random, like York is, then the tune will be random whilst he talks. If the person is evil, the music will go evil etc etc.
Deadly Premonition also spawned a cult classic sandwich called the “Sinner’s Sandwich“. People make these at games conventions. What is the Sinner’s Sandwich? It’s a sandwich made with turkey, strawberry jam and cereal. Random? Very. Even York doesn’t like the sound of it, until he is told to try it as a lifes lesson. Needless to say, his reaction is very Deadly Premonition as he enjoys it so much he cancels his original sandwich order and gets a Sinner’s Sandwich instead. I’ve inserted the scene here. No spoilers are contained within. Notice again, the random changing of music?
I’m finding it really hard to explain deadly Premonition in such a small space because it’s genre defying.
You will walk, run, talk to people like in Shenmue. You will get into cars, open a map and drive miles and miles to a destination like in Grand Theft Auto, or more closely related, like L.A. Noire. There’s even a cockpit view with working indicators / windscreen wipers. I mean c’mon, that level of detail isn’t even in GTA V!!! Then you’ll enter an area, the world will go dark and you’ll be attacked by monsters like Silent Hill.
People have day to day schedules they follow in life like in Harvest Moon and they will give you quests at certain times of day that you can easily miss if you just play for the plot. And there we go again, you can play Deadly Premonition SO MANY different ways! The quests will help you with items that allow for quick jumps (and you’ll want these as Greenvale is HUUUGE!). You could so easily miss these quests. This is where you can feel where Deadly Premonition was cut. It was meant to be so much bigger and was supposed to infuse the local community in with the plot a lot more than it does. Not to mention getting penalised for “stinking”, not washing your clothes and letting your beard grow…Yeah…I know, random. You really must give a game such as Deadly Premonition a few hours in order to get a feel for it.
Deadly Premonition also got a Director’s Cut release for PC and PS3. This version addresses the mid 90’s control scheme the original had and reminds it that triggers were put on modern controllers for a reason. It also upscales the game somewhat as the original looked little above a PS2 game. Hell, even the Director’s Cut still looks quite old. But this game isn’t played for the graphics, it’s played for the unique feel and the AWESOME plot!
Seriously, Deadly Premonition will confuse you, intrigue you, confuse you a bit more, then keep you in with amazing plot and random yet clever script writing. Then it will fill you with feels as you get attached to the quirks of the characters and it does a Walking Dead on you as things start to go horrible wrong right in front of your eyes making you question if you could have stopped it.
Deadly Premonition: Director’s Cut, whereas it makes Greenvale look better (more green, less brown), makes the character models sharper and gives the controls a modern feel, it also adds in unfortunate bugs that were not present in the original. In fact, the original was quite solid. The music will sometimes “clip”, making a popping sound. Car engines don’t loop properly, which can get annoying and for the PS3, the slower read of the Blu-Ray disc doesn’t seem to have been compensated for as you’ll drive fast only for the area to fail to load, resulting in crashing into buildings you can’t see. This doesn’t always happen, but it will happen when you don’t want it to. In this, I find it hard to recommend a version. Both have pros and cons.
I shall leave it there and hope I managed to intrigue you into giving Deadly Premonition a go. It can be picked up very cheap and the PS3 version was on PS+ at some point not too long ago, so you might even have it stashed away in your library. I would recommend giving deadly Premonition a lot of time and expect random. If high resolution and a billion frames per second are on your gaming agenda, then avoid. If you can look past that and enjoy a game for it’s content then this game will keep you going. The campaign in long, there’s many side quests to do, lots of exploring and you can replay any chapter at any point.