Imagine yourself standing outside a forest, alone…
You just escaped from an ax-wielding maniac. Before that, you were being attacked by suicidal zombie-shadow creatures. You then find yourself talking to someone who isn’t there, as you reminisce about how your morning cup of coffee warned you that something bad was going to happen to you today.
Is this a bad episode of the Twilight Zone?
Nope, it’s Deadly Premonition!
Originally released in Japan as Red Seeds Profile, this is one of those games that comes out of nowhere, and blindsides you with its weirdness and humor. From major and minor characters with unique behavioral attributes; to cars that can explode if they get too dirty; to getting paid for performing mundane tasks, such as shaving – there are a lot of quirks about this game that make it worth playing.
For example, let’s take a look at the main character – Agent Francis York Morgan…
The main protagonist of Deadly Premonition, York (as he likes to be called) is an FBI agent who has an imaginary friend named Zach, and somehow uses his coffee to predict the immediate future. He also introduces himself to people in exactly the same manner, and has no reservations about discussing the gruesome practices of a murderer while eating lunch with other people. He is very passionate about movies – particularly those from the 1980s – and can usually be seen discussing them with Zach.
I was sold on York almost immediately, and not just because of his eccentricities. For instance, in the opening scene, when he’s driving to the town of Greenvale to solve a murder, Agent York is seen talking to another agent on the phone, discussing the psychological implications of the Tom and Jerry Show – specifically their abusive relationship with each other, and how they both need it to be that way.
At first, the story seems simple enough – a teenage girl is brutally murdered in Greenvale, and Agent York is sent to investigate because of the ritualistic nature of the crime. Soon after he arrives however, his car gets wrecked, he’s constantly pursued by an ax-wielding psycho in a red raincoat, his dreams become more intense as painful memories surface, more ritualistic murders happen, and – most shockingly of all – he eats a sandwich made of turkey, jam and cereal…and ENJOYS IT!!!
This game features many side quests, some of which have time limits, but there is an option to replay chapters which can be useful if you are trying to obtain a rare item, like a radio that allows fast travel to locations you’ve already visited. Another great thing about the side quests is that you learn something about the history of Greenvale – or you may discover some hidden quirks about the townsfolk. For instance, the mechanic in the scrap yard who served in the military, or how that cute deputy sheriff really wants to improve her cooking skills.
And let’s not forget about Thomas… Cheerful, flamboyant Thomas. Boy, does he have some secrets to tell.
With this being an open-world game, using a vehicle for transportation will be necessary. Because your car was run off the road, you have access to several police cars and a van in the first chapter of the game. These are your standard vehicles, and are mandatory for certain main story segments.
As you progress through the story, you can buy other vehicles at the Scrap Yard – vehicles that handle better, and go faster. Some side quests give you access to better vehicles after you complete them. You might be able to get your original car fixed with the right quest, and it just might be the fastest in the game.
Also, the gas station in Greenvale has the best car wash I’ve ever seen in a game. If your car is damaged – and I mean seriously damaged, to the point where it’s smoking – all you have to do is drive to the gas station and get it washed. The soap they use has some kind of nanoprobe technology that fixes everything in and on your car! Seriously, where did they get this shit?
The most common enemy you will run into are these zombie-like ghost creatures called “shadows” which are capable of respawning and teleporting short distances. Some have melee weapons, some have shotguns, some can even crawl on the ceiling! Also, their behaviour and speech will leave you somewhat confused. Sometimes, when you shoot one, it may ask you to put it out of its misery, but when you do, it’ll say it doesn’t want to die. Assuming it would see one, the psychiatry bills would be astronomical!
I really liked the music in Deadly Premonition, because it is just as weird as the game itself. Almost every tune helped convey the situation you were in very well – such as “Shadow” enhancing the dread and atmospheric tension of fighting undead creatures, and “Life Is Beautiful” for being a soothing tune, suggesting that you take some time and relax. Maybe even go fishing.
If there’s one thing I hate in this game, it’s the encounters with the Raincoat Killer. This is because it utilizes quick time events. Specifically, rocking the D-pad left and right continuously. I absolutely hate doing this, because my thumb was sore as fuck afterwards. Even after the Raincoat Killer is dead, there is still another event in the game where you have to rock the D-pad back and forth, but faster! So yeah, I’m not a fan of quick time events.
Aside from the Xbox 360 version, which was released in 2010, there was a Director’s Cut of the game released in 2013 for both PS3 and Steam. The Director’s Cut featured new cut scenes, extra costumes for both York and Emily, extra vehicles, and a house for York that he could use anytime, for sleep and whatnot. Also, extra achievements were added to the game, for all of the trophy whor…I mean, completionists out there.
I have played all three releases of this game to death, and I have gotten all the achievements on all three releases. Since then, I’ve found it to be extremely difficult to finish another playthrough. I tend to get bored and quit after only getting through a tenth of the game, as I have tried twice since last year. Although I may attempt another full playthrough again someday…
Regardless, I had a lot of fun playing it, especially when I wasn’t so obsessed with the achievements. I still think it’s a great game, and it deserves a full playthrough. You don’t have to do all of the side quests, but you should experience the story, as I have yet to witness anything else like it in any game before or since. It’s absurd, unsettling, and fun! Even more so than playing darts.
Which you can also do in the game!