Deadly Premonition

Now this is a game that I’m glad I wasn’t asked to review – I can’t decide if it’s the ‘best worst game ever’ or the ‘worst best game ever’. Confused? Of course you are. Just trying to describe it gives me brain ache – it’s a murder mystery, set in a quiet American town, and is very cut-scene heavy and visually crude but also incredibly well designed and lovingly crafted. Survival horror missions pop up every couple of hours too, which play a bit like the early Silent Hill games. Oh, and you get to drive a car. And go fishing. Actually, that didn’t hurt my brain too badly.

Each and every character you meet is as memorable as the last. There’s Polly, the elderly hotel owner who often mishears what lead character Agent York says to her, and also a senile lady who aimlessly walks around town carrying a cooking pot. At the start of the game York is hard to bond with but while you (rather laboriously) drive yourself from crime scene to crime scene he talks to his imaginary friend Zach about rock music and ’80s films with Tremors, Jaws and Superman all getting a mention. You have to wonder if it’s the producer of the game talking about favourite things from his past rather than York.

It’s ambitious too. Much like Zelda: Majora’s Mask the game has a day and night cycle where people go about their business like real-life folk would. York has to eat, sleep and even stop at the petrol station to get motion lotion. Another likeable feature is the way that it doesn’t treat the player as an idiot – there are no tutorials, nagging hints or anything of the sort. It lets you explore the town and work out things for yourself. For instance, you can visit a garage and buy a new car – in any other game such a facility would be mentioned heavily on the loading screens or whatnot but here it’s left for you to discover for yourself. Save points and health packs are well spaced and like all good murder mysteries it keeps you guessing until the end. About half way through I was convinced I knew who the killer was, only for an alibi to turn up and the plot to thicken.

The survival horror sections are a bit clunky and dated but not to the point where you’d say that there are broken or uninteresting. Headshots take the enemy down quicker but because of the way their bodies twist and turn it can be challenging to land a string of successful shots. Usually in a game of this ilk you automatically focus on taking out the enemies approaching nearest first but here the enemies can teleport (for want of a better word) from the back of the pack to being in striking distance which makes them pleasingly unpredictable.

For its entire 20-odd hour duration Deadly Premonition entertains thoroughly. I know it’s an oxymoron, but the phrase ‘flawed genius’ sums it up perfectly.

Isn’t that right, Zach?

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