Ever seen a concept for a game that was so outlandish, so weird, and so absurd that it just… Boggles you? Deadly Premonition was, for me at least, that concept – An odd little duckling in the putrid nest of survival horror, Deadly Premonition centres around the sleepy town of Greenvale, and the curious case of the Raincoat Killer, being investigated by our… Unique protagonist, Detective Francis York Morgan – FBI Investigator and dissociative identity disorder sufferer…
Deadly Premonition is a really hard game to review and explain – Essentially the game focuses around a set of murders that occur in Greenvale, investigating the bizarre pockets of a horrific dimension that manifests nearby said murders and information regarding the Raincoat Killer, and experiencing the varied flavours of characters that reside inside of Greenvale – A few of which have stuck in my mind for a good while after completing this relatively short horror title; Harry, the gas-masked, computer-voiced, wheelchair-bound oddball, Thomas, the wonderfully camp-yet-cowardly police officer, and Keith, the proprietor of the Milk Barn and local air-guitar expert.
Deadly Premonition is built near-entirely on it’s characters, because… Honestly, everything else is either mediocre or downright terrible.
Travelling across the map takes place either on foot, or in a select few vehicles, primarily composed of police vehicles – This, however, barely operates as intended, often leaving you with a good few minutes to trek from location to location much like Jak II: Renegade – Acceleration is wonky at best, often cutting out randomly and speeding up ridiculously, handling feels like you’re constantly on ice, and the cars have a tendency to flip over if you drift around a corner too fast – There are also third person modes for vehicle driving, but the game makes no mention of this. In-fact, I had only discovered it after I beat the game!
Speaking of beating the game, there were a huge number of possible benefits that players can obtain by completing side quests, but I personally found that many of these were either far too vague to complete without a guide (Because I didn’t want to fall into spoiler territory), or were simple “go here at this time and talk to this NPC” affairs – The sort where you think “I’ll do that later”, and then promptly forget it for the rest of the game. As I mentioned previously, however, this lead me to miss a massive number of items. Unique melee weapons? Missed ’em. Health buffs? Missed ’em. Weapon upgrades? Missed ’em. Fast travel? Missed it.
Without all of these benefits, I felt that my experience was extremely hindered by a lack of communication or good sidequest design – In the end, I completed Deadly Premonition at a total of 16 hours, with the basic purchasable weapons from Panda Bear (The gun shop), no health upgrades and no additional ammo – For the majority of the game, the basic 9mm Handgun was enough to push me through most enemies and bosses; that, however, isn’t too much of an achievement given the game only has 3 bosses, two consistent types of enemies (Excluding the Raincoat Killer, and two types of enemies that appear for a single portion of a chapter), a slowly shambling zombie (That sometimes can wield weapons) and a zombie that can crawl on walls, turn invisible and fire energy blasts. It stinks of a game with a low production cost, but despite that, I can’t help but love it.
Before that, however, I think it’s essential to mention that the Switch version of Deadly Premonition: Origins is messy. Audio often plays far too loud (Often where the backing OST will drown out dialogue), textures constantly pop in and out, and frame drops are all too common, especially when driving and in cutscenes – Often the game would drop to around 15-19 fps (My eyed up assumption) in Docked Mode and down to the low-tens in Handheld, with it really ramping up the Switch’s fans in the open world segments – It’s clear that the engine has it’s struggles on Switch, but also that it’s the sort of game that has been dying for a remake – It looks like a game from the PS2 era, yet it released on the Xbox 360 and PS3; it has the engine difficulties of the early Xbox 360 era, but also the production to match…
…And I suppose that is why I’m so excited for Deadly Premonition 2, and so disappointed that Deadly Premonition 1 didn’t get the remake treatment; we finally get to see the topics, campiness and themes of Deadly Premonition realised with a bigger budget, modern engine and better voice acting, but also get to see the predecessor fall on it’s inferior format, buried in it’s grave with this release as it’s coffin lid.
A lot of the humour as well has been lost to time, with a surprising number of lines that I feel could be seen as possibly sexist nowadays, but that’s neither for me to dictate or to force – Simply my own interpretation.
…But regardless, Deadly Premonition: Origins is a game I feel that you definitely should play and experience, if to simply get a better appreciation for the upcoming second game – It really is “The Room” of videogaming, with it’s extremely campy humour, wacky characters, bad voiceacting and hilarious situations (Cereal, strawberry jam and turkey sandwich anyone?). It’s art in game form; odd, bizarre and abstract, and not for everyone… But also something that shouldn’t be forgotten or dismissed.
It’s hard for me to give Deadly Premonition a score. I want to give it a 10, I feel like I need to give it a 0, and I have no idea what to place on Deadly Premonition. In terms of objectively scoring the Nintendo Switch port, I’d place it at a solid 6.0 / 10, due to the technical issues, framerate issues and sound issues, but feel that the portability, game’s content and humour would bump it up by 2 points. For that reason, I give Deadly Premonition: Origins a: