Thursday, March 3, 2011

Deadly Premonition (Xbox 360)

Whooo boy. Deadly Premonition. It has to be the weirdest game I've ever played. And despite its suckiness, it's really good. And yet it is so bad. It has great atmosphere, except when it goes to total moodswings. Which means, all the time. So, where to start with this game? And please do listen that song, I guarantee it will get stuck into your head. And if you play the game, even more so, because it's fucking everywhere.

Well, graphics are a bit aged, and I remember hearing that the development was started with PS2 as main platform, but then consoles renewed. Well, anyway, I think they do the trick quite nicely, and with game being a budget title with price tag somewhere around 20€, it doesn't look all that bad when compared to amount of stuff in the game.

On the plus-side though, the game runs really smoothy and load times aren't too shabby, especially considering that you have a huge countryside town to explore. And well, as said, most of the time things look pretty nice. Then there are times when animations just suck... well, you know. Look at the video if you don't believe. And oh yeah, that video is also a great way to introduce you to the schizophrenic world of Deadly Premonition, with constant moodswings and all. Yes, it is that weird, pretty much all the time.

Well, when it comes to combat, the controls are your standard Resident Evil-controls, meaning, when you aim, you can't move and so on. Movement's a bit tacky, but you'll get around.

In addition to your traditional health bar you also have a pulse bar, which becomes fuller if you run, hold your breath for sneaking or drive a police car while blasting your sirens(!). Oh yes, you can drive a car in this game. Now how weird is that, combining Silent Hill/Resident Evil with GTA-style freeroaming with car. Car controls are, how to put it, bad. But luckily the roads are pretty straight, so not much steering is needed. But still.

Then there's a profiling mechanic, which took me by surprise, as it wasn't mentioned anywhere in the manual, or even in-game. Basically, you collect some pieces of evidence and then our protagonist, FBI special agent Francis York Morgan (call him York, everybody does) starts having mental images which he uses to solve the case. Crazy, huh? Speaking of the manual, I couldn't help but laugh when I read it and noticed, that there would be fishing in this game. Nothing could have prepared me for existence of fishing in a game like this. I mean, how could you be expecting something like fishing and real-time beard growing in a game like this? Yes, you read right, real-time beard growing. How awesome is that?

There's a main questline in the game with 'time limits' on it, but it's nothing like in Dead Rising, you just have to be on time at some date in the place to progress in the story, so you might as well take two-week vacation just fishing and smoking before going to the crime scene. Or you could peek into people's houses to see what they are doing. Or you could do some side-tasks for money and items. Or you could drive around just because you can.

Well, most of the time when you investigate crime scenes, the game warps into a otherworld of sorts, much like Silent Hill. There you pretty much shoot enemies, get money from doing so (oh yes, you actually get money from doing pretty much anything), collect evidence, shoot more evidence and do some profiling. I played on easy because the monsters just took annoingly long to die on normal. There is basically three types of enemies, bosses not included. A generic zombie-like monster, shoot it until it dies. A wall-crawling bastard, that turns invisible from time to time and takes forever to kill, especially if you use SMG or pistol. And then there's our serial killer, the Raincoat Killer. When you encounter him, you are often basically just doing a quick-time event to prevent getting killed. Sometimes you run away from him and then have to hide somewhere, much like in Forbidden Siren. Much of the gameplay is spent around figuring out, who is the Raincoat Killer, and why he is.

As you may have deduced from above the atmosphere in the game is a bit crooked. And it's quite obvious that when making the game, somebody had watched Twin Peaks a few times too many. Pretty much everyone in the town is eccentric and strange. There's Mr. Harry Stewart who goes around in his wheelchair with a gasmask on, telling his assistant what to say to other persons. And this assistant only speaks in rhymes. Then there's the crazy lady with an object of obsession (a pot, this time). A fat traveling salesman that is ever so cheerful. Then there's protagonist Francis York Morgan who constantly speaks to his alter-ego Zach, even in the presence of other people. Or speaks about serial killers using skulls as urine collectors while having casual dinners with local law enforcement. All this while this cheerful music is playing. What were they thinking? Honestly. This is just something you don't do, not even on meth. And yet they did it, and quite frankly, I am happy that they did. Because it's half of the charm of the game. Or in fact, all of it, because the game doesn't have a good story (although it is quite interesting until it goes whoop-de-fucking-doo-surprise in the end), it can't boast on gameplay merits and music, while memorable, is almost never used correctly.

Pretty much my thoughts
Well, it starts out as a horror game, Silent Hill-type at that, and then you suddenly end up in a open sandbox like GTA. Confused, I did not know what to expect, but little by little I got a grap of the game, it's pretty much a detective story with supernatural themes. It's actually fairly interesting, though you might guess the killer's identity if you pay attention to all those little things. And not pay attention to some things, because they're just red herrings. I'm pretty sure the story is there to just mess with your head, as the game ends up from fairly realistic horror-game to having a skyscraper-sized boss. Things like that, and that the ending is pretty much pulled out of nowhere, it's only way past halfway when there's first mentions of the reasons behind why the end is so fucked-up.

Opinion on short
So, what do I think about this game?
I love it, though it is a  maimed game.
I can't really see any space in-between.
But you should try it, even if you're no tween.
You may really like it,
be it a miss and a hit.
I don't know how to make rhymes fit,
so I guess I'll just end it.

So says Mr. Stewart.

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