Publisher: Ignition Entertainment / Developer: Access Games / Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

I did not know much about Deadly Premonition before putting the disc into my Xbox.  I had read a few things here and there, and I watched the “Two Best Friends Play…” video.  There I stood, in front of the used Xbox 360 games section of GameStop, a used copy of Deadly Premonition in hand.  It was in a generic used box, void of any sort of design.  In a way, this seems to fit it better than the original box art.  You go into it having absolutely no expectations other than that the game – from what little you’ve seen of it – is supposed to be so terrible it loops back to “awesome.”  Little did I know I would soon encounter what is probably one of the most strangely compelling, surprising experiences in the history of videogames.

My copy of Deadly Premonition, in all its splendor.

Half of the fun of Deadly Premonition is finding out on your own just what the game is all about.  So if you’re contemplating buying it already, stop reading right now and go buy it.  I’m serious; it can’t be more than $20 at this point, and the game is well worth it.  If you still need some convincing, well then keep on reading.  I went into Deadly Premonition expecting just what I described above:  a game so terrible it loops all the way back and becomes awesome.  For the first few hours, it is.  The game’s prologue is so confusing and throws so many seemingly random things at you all at once that you can’t help but just laugh at everything.  The game simply cannot be taken seriously.  You can try, but you’ll end up laughing your ass off the next time the main character opens his mouth or you find your first can of “the Pickles” brand pickles.

Deadly Premonition‘s story follows FBI agent Francis York Morgan (but please, call him York;  everyone calls him York) as he is sent to the quiet rural town of Greenvale to investigate the murder of a young woman.  York is accompanied by Zach, whom only he can see and communicate with.  York doesn’t like to talk about Zach with other people, despite talking with him right in front of them.  Deadly Premonition quite obviously takes its control scheme from Resident Evil 4, but doesn’t take much care in emulating it very well.  York controls very stiffly, and the aiming/shooting is way too touchy.  You begin to dread combat not out of any kind of fear, but merely because it means you’ll have to wrestle with aiming and shooting another zombie thing again.

Deadly Premonition is, for the most part, a survival horror game, but it twists the genre quite unexpectedly.  Your pistol has infinite ammo, but becomes almost too weak to be of any use later in the game.  You can use melee weapons but they break after repeated use.  Alternate firearms can be found, but eventually you’ll find at least one of the other infinite ammo weapons and simply use that for the remainder of the game.  York can hold a limited amount of weapons and items, however you’ll find much of your inventory will be taken up by various types of food and drink.  Yes, in Deadly Premonition you will have to keep track of your hunger and energy meters as well as change your suit before it becomes too dirty and flies start to buzz around you.  You can also shave, but having a beard doesn’t really hurt (and it looks snazzy, to boot).  While this may seem unnecessary, York’s hunger and energy dwindles at a very slow pace, and food and energy-replenishing coffee (or a bed) is never too hard to find.  It never really becomes a burden, instead it is just something else to think about.

Outside of the Silent Hill-esque combat areas, York is free to explore the entirety of Greenvale as he pleases.  There is a staggering amount of side missions to complete (none of which are mandatory, but they do help significantly) that unlock a surprisingly useful amount of secrets, such as a new car (cars need gas and handle like shopping carts at first, so finding a new vehicle is more important than you’d think) or the ability to fast travel.  Unless I’m wrong, the time in Deadly Premonition is 1:1, meaning if you have seven hours to complete an objective, you have seven hours to complete an objective.  This can be skipped – of course – by sleeping, however exploring allows you to meet many of the interesting characters in Deadly Premonition, and really get a feel for how much heart was put into such an odd game.

So far, Deadly Premonition might sound like a Frankenstein-esque monster, built from barely-working parts from many different games and genres and hastily stapled together.  However, stick with the game and you’ll find yourself more deeply engaged than you thought you ever would be.  At one point about one third of the way through the main story, Deadly Premonition beats you over the back of the head with a surprisingly gruesome plot twist, and shifts into complete overdrive from there.  After the cutscene in question had ended, I sat there for a good minute or so, completely bewildered.  It isn’t even ironic anymore, this game just got good.

From that point, the game brings you to explore even more twisted places, meet strange and dark people, and begin to question all of the seemingly-innocent denizens of Greenvale you drove around and met with only hours ago.  Every time you think you know what is going on, the game pulls another twist and leaves you completely confused and lost.  When you think the game has finally ended and the evil has finally been vanquished, something else crops up and the plot thickens more than you ever thought possible.  Deadly Premontion pulls you in with its strange characters and almost-terrible gameplay in an attempt to make you laugh, but eventually you find you’re invested deeper than you thought.

Deadly Premonition is just one of those games that needs to be played.  I’ve tried my best to describe it here without spoiling too much, as the game is significantly more enjoyable when you go into it blind.  It gets so many things wrong from a technical standpoint, but so much of it is so right, it just simply can’t be reviewed in a regular sense.  You’re either going to absolutely love the game or despise the very second you gained an interest in it.  I’m not even going to give it a real score.  11/11.  There you go. I rate this game an eleven out of eleven.  Love it or hate it, Deadly Premonition is simply a game that you will never forget.  Now go play it.