Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut Review

2010′s Deadly Premonition was certainly something else. It wasn’t a particularly modern looking game nor  was it very playable, but its colorful cast of characters and uniquely bizarre and twisting storyline made it a cult hit. The Director’s Cut finally brings Deadly Premonition to the Playstation 3, along with a few tweaks, improvements and story content.

Nods to the classic TV show Twin Peaks are all over Deadly Premonition. Its plot  is centered on a mysterious murder happening in a backwater town in rural America and it’s up to an eccentric, coffee aficionado and possibly insane FBI agent to figure it all out. Obviously, like Twin Peaks, Deadly Premonition‘s story quickly gets much more complex the further you get into it. But, without going into spoilers, unlike its inspiration, there’s a definite end and (very) possible awe to Deadly Premonition in store by the time you’re done.

Drawing plenty of Dale Cooper from the start, but shifting into his own half way through the game, Agent Francis York Morgan specializes in criminal profiling, so you’ll be spending the majority of Deadly Premonition‘s “action” sections looking for a handful of clues in order to engage in a series of slides that slowly piece the plot together.

Most of York’s enemies suffer from accute cases of back pain and must limbo their way around. Poor things!

The Director’s Cut delivers most of its improvements through the combat. The original version of the game had tightly focused camera angle behind York’s back, which obscured your view and relied on very sluggish controls. This version pulls back the camera and makes the controls more akin to modern third person shooter, using of both analog sticks for moving and aiming weapons.

Enemy encounters are limited to shooting very slow moving zombie like creatures, with only a bit of variety towards the end of the game, when a new type of monster is introduced, as well as York’s bumping into the mysterious hooded figure that leaves very little to be fought, but plenty to run away (and button mash) away from. Thanks to the improved controls and lowered difficulty setting – The Director’s Cut does away with difficulty options altogether – the frustrations with these combat sections is kept at a minimum.

In between these combat sections, you’re given free reign to drive around Greenvale. Starting out with a slow police cruiser and moving on up as upgrades are discovered and new types of cars are earned, the actual driving in Deadly Premonition fails to bring much excitement, other than helping to deliver much of the back and (and zero) forth between York and an unseen entity heard only by him, Zach.

Talk more, drive less, Morgan. That’s my motto in Deadly Premonition.

Oh yes, Zach. Throughout the entire game, York discusses case points, random movie and music trivia, as well as comments the town apparently to himself, even in front of other people, who choose to ignore this behavior or, insanely to themselves in their own way, decide to take interest in the occult voice that only York can hear. Much of the tone for Deadly Premonition is set by this dialogue seen as a monologue, which adds much to the already insane nature of Greenvale and its inhabitants.

What makes Deadly Premonition so unique is that it strays from the formula of taking itself seriously in order to deliver comedy. It knows it’s completely off the rails from the get go, but even then, it manages to take turns to horror and even drama, especially towards the end of the story. Its plot, though, is stretched as far as it can possible go towards the conclusion, with plenty of padding and unnecessarily long stretches of no gameplay, other than running forward towards a quest marker on the map.

Other than the story, you’re able to interact with townsfolk during their daily routines by taking sidequests that help develop some of the side characters’ personalities further. Most of these missions boil down to fetch quests, while a few serve as puzzles and even races through town. The rewards vary from new suits for York to don to food items and even trading cards. Trading cards serve as collectibles, while some suits have special affect York’s stats, and might slow down the rate which it diminishes the further he goes without eating or sleeping.

Yeah, well maybe you shouldn’t have wrecked yours in the first place, mister big city agent guy…

It’s worth noting that much like an early Playstation 2 era game, which Deadly Premonition shares its visual and aural capabilities with, it also features a rudimentary climate system that shifts randomly from sunny weather to rain, as well as cosmetic suite for York to worry about. His suits become dirty and his face turns stubbly the further he goes without shaving and changing clothes, which don’t diminish his capabilities, but change his appearance with borderline hilarious results, having more and more flies constantly buzzing around him.

That’s the sort of jewel-in-the-rough charm Deadly Premonition delivered in 2010 that garnered so much adoration and also turned it into one of that year’s most divise games. The Director’s Cut manages to do just the same, even though it might prove to be a weak reason for fans of the original version of the game to come back. Other than the improvements to the combat, this new version doesn’t add much to the overall narrative, other than introducing a sub-plot in between chapters.

For those who have been waiting to dive into Deadly Premonition though, this is the definitive version to get. It isn’t the best looking or most mechanically sound Playstation 3 games you’ll ever play, but it’s easily one of the most memorable you’re likely to come across anytime soon. Isn’t that right, Zach?

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