- Developer: TOYBOX
- Publisher: Numskull Games
- Release date: 04/09/2019
- Price: $29.99 / £24.99
- Physical Link
- Review code provided by Numskull Games
Deadly Premonition is one of those games that I had always heard about but never played myself since I was a PlayStation kid who missed out on a lot of the PlayStation 3’s more well known games. (I’m still playing catch up to this day.) With the release of Deadly Premonition Origins I had another game that I could catch up with. I chose to do a little research on the game before diving in though, due to the fact that I had only heard nebulous things about the game and did not have a real solid basis on why it was well known. If it was getting a re-release and a sequel it had to be a fairly good or nostalgic game, right?
That was where I was sorely wrong and I learned the biggest rule about playing Deadly Premonition. You have to go into it with the right mindset.
A Legacy for All the Wrong Reasons
Suppose you were going to show someone a movie that you love because it falls into the realm of being so bad that it’s good. That’s something that you would warn them about before beginning to make sure that it’s something they are interested in and that they understand there is a reason that you are showing them a movie that is terrible or borders on nonsensical. Likewise, you need to have the same attitude of being willing to have a laugh at the game’s expense if you are going into Deadly Premonition. Going in expecting a serious survival horror game with no giggles to it is just going to leave you frustrated. Many have compared the odd yet atmospheric vibe that it gives off to Twin Peaks, but since I have not watched the show, I cannot attest to the similarity myself.
Deadly premonition is perhaps one of the best examples of a good-bad game. The problem with a bad game is usually that gameplay can keep it from being fun to laugh at when you’re getting frustrated or it is breaking on you. Glitches like the infamous Infinite Jumping Knuckles from Sonic Boom can be fun in a bad game, but not so much a bug that keeps you from moving forward. Deadly Premonition Origins, on the other hand, functions just fine. While the controls can sometimes be a little janky, it’s never to the point that I am angry with the game or so frustrated that I have to walk away.
As a result, I’ve had a wonderful experience with this mess!
Deadly Flaws, Infinite Joy
If there is one thing that makes Deadly Premonitions Origins amazing it is the dialog and music of the game. The music is rarely appropriate for the scene that it is playing behind and there is one song that just kept popping up over and over and never once failed to draw a smile from me at its delightfully poor placement. When the music is not completely off base, it’s on the nose to the point of comedy. Horror stings and musical shrieks are literally everywhere in the game, sometimes coming so rapidly that they overlap. Subtitles are a necessity as a lot of time the music will be so loud that you can barely hear the characters speaking underneath it, which is perhaps the one thing that reminds me most of the terrible movies that I love to riff on. All of this would be a serious problem if I was taking the game extremely seriously, but knowing the level that the game wants me to engage it at, it becomes a source of joy for me.
I don’t want to say that the voice acting in the game is bad, because it’s really not bad aside from a few questionable line reads, but more stilted as a result of the often unnatural dialog. The dialog itself is often strange and occasionally nonsensical. The main character, York, is a bit of an odd duck himself and often speaks in asides to “Zach” which can range from simple observations, to seemingly rhetorical questions, to strange diatribes about movies in nearly obsessive detail. It’s weird, but a fun weird. The murder plot is not the most intricate ever created, but the supernatural twist, twisted lineup of suspects, and the small town lore aspects punch it up a little and give it enough to keep the story moving outside of the general strangeness of it all.
A Light Warning
Despite my love for this game, there is one aspect that I feel it is important to at least mention so that nobody will be blindsided by it in a way that would personally hurt them. The game’s handling of LGBT+ issues is… troubling to put it mildly. It does fall back on some harmful or hurtful tropes that will trouble some people more than others if you are not prepared for it. In particular there is one character (Saying who would be a spoiler, but google can let you know if you don’t mind.) who it is not made explicitly clear how they identify, they way they are handled is not exactly sympathetic or even really kind. If you are personally concerned, you’re welcome to do some more research before going in. Your comfort level is something that is only up to you to determine. It’s also going to be up to you if writer-director SWERY’s growth and more recent handling of of similar issues in The Missing: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories softens your reception of his former work somewhat.
Crafted With Care
Despite all the strangeness and poor choices that were put into this game, there is no doubt that it was crafted with deep care and effort. The open world map can be a bit to wrap your head around at first and can feel a bit devoid of other people aside from cars on the road, but none the less feels like a misty and spooky small town out int he middle of nowhere with all the atmosphere that has been put into it. Agent York will grow facial hair if you don’t stop at mirrors to shave and flies will gather if you don’t change your clothes (which also need to have washed). You can turn on the blinkers of your car and if you really wanted, there’s not anything stopping you from taking a day off from your investigation to just spend the whole day fishing.
That’s the craziest part, I can see the good game hidden away in this game that could have been if not for all the little things that made me fall in love with it for all the reasons that I would not expect to. That’s even if I know that the game came out for a system a generation after it looks like it should be from. It makes me excited from what the sequel could bring us, even if nobody would ever have expected it to happen.
Deadly Premonition Origins isn’t for everyone, that’s for sure. If you’re interested in a sometimes atmospheric but often campy survival horror which looks a generation older than it actually is, by all means, dive right in and see what all the fuss is about before the sequel arrives. Just be warned, that this edition does not contain the extra scenes of the director’s cut.
- Giggles brought on by dialog and music
- Open world with plenty to do
- An overall strange and surrel experience
- Will not appeal to all sensibilities
- Poor handling of LGBT+ issues
While not for everyone, for the right person this game can be nothing but campy fun!