There was a point when the immersive strangeness of this game dawned on me.
When a fatally wounded, dying woman rose up from the ground. To suddenly prance around, casually describing the eroticism of a nearby sculpture as if giving a guided tour of the art gallery. She mumbles the words due to her tongue having been bitten off. While coughing up blood and red seeds.
I remembered that I didn’t find this particularly odd at the time. Didn’t bat an eye. Why? Because I was playing Deadly Premonition.
Qualitatively speaking, Deadly Premonition is an awful mess of a game. Everything about it seems more archaic than the majority of games in the previous console generation. Despite some intuitive puzzles, it plays poorly, from the awful vehicle handling, to the bad controls and tedious combat.
There are baffling design decisions everywhere in it – the zoomed in map, the worst quick time events ever, the running forward for minutes at a time, etc.
But there is a reason for the mixed reactions and cult following it has garnered. The presentation and writing may be lacking but the story is genuinely interesting.
It touches on some surprisingly dark themes and features some seriously unsettling scenes – reminiscent of the best parts of the Silent Hill series. All the while keeping a consistent but strange comedic nature. In which it is often difficult to tell the intentional from the incidental humour.
The protagonist, FBI Agent Francis York Morgan (Call him York. Everyone calls him York), is introduced to the player speeding down a road at night, in the rain, while smoking, checking his laptop and using his mobile phone to discuss how Tom and Jerry have a codependent relationship.
Or there’s the scene where he offhandedly tells three characters from the local small town Sheriff’s office about a serial killer who drank from and urinated in women’s skulls. Naturally, he describes this while everyone is eating lunch.
Then there’s his frequent conversations with his invisible friend Zach. It’s those moments (not to mention the attention to detail and level of care that went into…Most of the game) that make it such a curious experience.
Despite the cheap price and notable length of the game, it’s hard to recommend due to how few of those 20+ hours will actually be time well spent. But I might recommend checking out the Let’s Play of the game on the Something Awful forums.