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Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut (PC) artwork

Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut (PC) review

"Wait. What?"

Letís get this out of the way early; Deadly Premonitions: Directorís Cut does not fix everything it might have been suggested would be fixed. Does this matter to you? Probably, because most of Directorís Cutís promises centred on cleaning up the 360 versions awful, awful control scheme. As such, the unforgivably bad mini-map still exists, so, yeah, good luck navigating around with that little slice of worthlessness. The game still manages to look a generation behind, not helped by the odd decision to lock the resolution to 720p, and it all chugs away at an embarrassing frame rate. The option to change your difficultly setting has been scrapped altogether; youíre stuck on Ďinsultingly easyí. Have fun with the complete lack of any challenge.

Itís far from all lies and broken promises, though. A few extra cut scenes have been thrown in, but what really makes the world of difference is how the combat has been rescaled completely. Deadly Premonition now sports an over-the-shoulder third-person gunplay mode complete with enemy lock on, that makes shooting things in the face a hell of a lot less fiddly. Not perfect -- not by a long shot -- but still much better from where it was. Even outside of combat, the camera is now freely controlled by your mouse, which means youíll spend much less time humping furniture and rubbing yourself up against the walls of staircases. These are important fixes, and alone mean that a gamer with a choice should always -- always -- prompt for the new version. Youíll thank me when youíre not playing a game where left makes you go up, right can go anywhere, and random objects of scenery seem to pull you in like a magnet.

The unfortunate reality is whatever version you play, Deadly Premonition is a game that has not been put together terribly well. Itís clunky and dated and, at times, doesnít seem sure of what it really wants to be. Events open up as a below-average survival horror where monsters crawl out of the ground. They make ridiculous garbling noises that would be funny if the game wasnít trying to play things dead serious. It fails Ė mainly because protagonist, Agent Francis ĎYorkí Morgan, is so indifferent to his predicament, youíd think he was grocery shopping rather than fending off the undead.

Once the opening segment is finally over, everything turns into goofy open-world exploration where you find out that you, the gamer, donít seem to be in full control of Agent York Ė you probably play the part of his imaginary friend, Zach, except you might not. York will often ask Zach about what he should do next, and youíre never really sure if this is the gameís clever way of involving you directly, or if the supposed star of the show is simply insane. Then he gets his suit pressed, has a sandwich, and goes to get his car filled up with gas.

Probably more so than any other game world created thus far, the town of Greenvale is independently alive and functional. For one, itís not just a backdrop to Yorkís investigation, but somewhere he has to physically live. If he doesnít keep himself topped up on food and sleep, his health suffers. If he doesnít shave regularly, he grows a beard. If he wears the same suit every day, his personal hygiene plummets and heís issued fines for being a smelly tramp. He has to drive to get from A to B, but cars donít run on magic and wishes; heíll have to top them up with gas if he doesnít want his ride to conk out several miles early. Petrol isnít free.

Gone too are the days when townsfolk walk about in a simple circuit and have two lines of dialogue; everyone that matters has their own lives and schedules to keep. York is in town primarily to investigate a string of grizzly murders, and the majority of the people you can converse with are often your shortlisted suspects for the crimes. At various parts of the game, youíll be asked to meet several people at a set location at a set time. Miss it, and they wonít hang around waiting on you to show; theyíll jump in their car and get on with their lives. Youíre welcome to try and track them down; perhaps theyíre grabbing something to eat, or have returned to their place of work. Maybe theyíre hanging out at the park, or have just gone home. You can track them on your awful mini map if you have the patience, or try and meet them the next day should you value your sanity.

Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut asset

Itís fair to say (and literally everyone has said) that Deadly Premonition owes a lot to cult classic Twin Peaks in offering a surreal slice of everyday life, then perverting it for kicks and giggles. Sometimes, the interactions between York, Zack, and the townsfolk are played up for laughs and the oddball cast are each represented brilliantly. Prime players even have their own musical prompts when they stroll on screen, so are often announced by individual audio cues well before you catch a glimpse of them. Few of them are particularly normal. Mr Stuart, for instance, is wheeled around town in an antique wheelchair by his distant PA, who only speaks in pretentious riddles. He doesnít speak much himself Ė the gas mask he wears tends to dissuade him.

Itís easy to get completely lost in the exploration of the town, hunting down collectables, picking up weapon upgrades with infinite ammo and forgetting the grim reason youíre there in the first place. At times, itís certainly a lot more fun to chase down the odd inhabitants or just drive around and listen to York chat to Zack about the B-movies he loves and how he wishes the radio station would play something more contemporary now and then. Should you wish to progress the story, it sadly means watching this all drop away as the game reattempts being a survival horror with pretty middling success. Itís completely true that Deadly Premonition can effortlessly drop sobering and chilling moments completely out of nowhere, seemingly at odds with the somewhat playful script. This, laudably, makes the die-hard moments of seriousness no less impactful, but does hide these in between quick time events that this industry still seems to insist everyone enjoys despite the crushing evidence against that ideal.

Most of these events take place when trying to escape from the Raincoat Killer, the gameís big bad. These arenít always awful, but when thatís the biggest positive I can come up with to describe these sections, you can be pretty confident youíre not on to a winner. Olí Raincoat seems to exist at complete odds with the rest of the gameís collection of homicidal creatures, as the chattering undead you fight at the very start of the game are the same enemies you need wade through at the end. Thereís no slow dialling up on threat levels of your adversaries, and the unchangeable difficulty setting that forces you to play the game without much challenge doesnít help. As such, you spend the majority of fights breezing through the surreal and the weak, feeling like a god, only for some guy in waterproofs to show up, wherein you regress into a small timid girl and run the hell away to hide via aggravating timed button presses.

It helps make the experience feel unbalanced, and thatís more or less the summing up of Deadly Premonition. As a video game, itís a series of mechanical failures that, really, after all this time spent on the two separate updates since the original, have no real right to exist. But itís all carried along by a story so surreal that the jerky, clumsy, near enough obsoleteness of the gameplay does kinda fit in. Does that make sense? Probably not, and nor will this next bit. I cannot, in all good faith recommend you go out and purchase this game. Itís a nightmare to navigate, it canít do survival horror right, and it never, ever settles on what it wants to be. Still, though, you have to play this game. Itís a slice of quirky brilliance, Iím pretty sure the narrative spends more time making fun of you than advancing the plot and itís so annoyingly unique and creative youíll both hate it for being as good as it is, and love it for being as bad.

Wait. What?

As such, this arbitrary score nonsense I have to stick at the bottom of the reviewís going to be a bastard. Just assume I rolled a ten-sided dice.


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (November 03, 2013)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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Linkamoto posted November 03, 2013:

Hahaha, freaking awesome review, sir! This part literally me laugh out loud:

"Mr Stuart, for instance, is wheeled around town in an antique wheelchair by his distant PA, who only speaks in pretentious riddles. He doesnít speak much himself Ė the gas mask he wears tends to dissuade him."

I also really dug the final portions of the review, where you basically say this a lovable clusterbomb mess, but buy it--or...don't? Haha. I loved the original for the very reasons you detailed here, but am seriously torn on whether I should purchase this one. Is there even anything actually new, per se?
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EmP posted November 03, 2013:

That might be the quickest feedback thread ever created -- thanks!

See, I want people to play this game because I can guarantee there are bits where you can't help but wear a huge grin on your face. You can, if you want, spend hours just looking into people's windows, watching them iron shirts or watch TV. Or just listen to York and Zack talk about the relationship behind Tom & Jerry, or why Tremors should have won an Oscar. The bloody game is so creative and off beat, it';s hard to stay angry at it when the awful horror sections start, and the game because a bad third person shooter with awkward quick time events.

As for if there's anything new, as far as I could see, it's a straight port of the PS3 version, which, itself, had a few new missions and cut scenes added in, but was more about cleaning up the game's control scheme, which is only half did. If you stumbled through either console version, the PC port only offers you more of the same but without the added stability of a control pad.
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overdrive posted November 03, 2013:

I've never had any real desire to play this game, but from what I've read here, it at least seems to have elements of being a fun send-up of sandbox games, with the whole "sit around and watch people living mundane home lives" feature you were talking about. That at least would be worth some entertainment.
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Linkamoto posted November 03, 2013:

Well, I played the original game for 360. The one released years back. It was the best worst game I've played.
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EmP posted November 03, 2013:

OD: Reluctant though I am to recommend this game for the various issues I discussed, you should be playing it.

Moto: Reluctant though I am to advise people to stay away from this game due to my obviously conflicted love for the title, if you've played the 360 version, there's not enough to the DC's edition to warrant a replay. If you ever feel like a replay though, this is totally the way to go.

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