Reviewed by Mr. Dark
Available for the Xbox 360
Published by Ignition Entertainment
I’d like to say, up front, that I am man enough to recognize and admit my mistakes. That, dear reader, was a terrible, terrible mistake.
Deadly Premonition is a Japanese title that desperately wants to be a video game version of “Twin Peaks”. Much of it is a direct rip-off of that beloved TV classic. However, this is a “Twin Peaks” created by profoundly mentally disturbed people stoned out of their gourds on absinthe. It’s a bizarro world “Twin Peaks” where you have stupidity instead of cleverness. It’s a glaringly ugly, painful world, and I spent around 20 hours of my life in it.
I’m going to try to explain the story. I’m going to fail miserably, but I’ll give it a shot.
You play FBI agent Francis York Morgan. Okay, that’s wrong. You play his imaginary friend, Zach. God, how I wish I was making that up. You’re off to Greenvale in the Pacific Northwest to investigate the murder of a girl that matches the MO of other cases you’ve investigated. They all feature mysterious red seeds and inverted peace symbols. Upon arriving, you discover a town full of extremely stupid people, have extremely pointless interactions with them, and engage in behavior that makes no sense whatsoever.
THEN, things get weird.
The game most closely resembles Resident Evil 1 on the original Playstation. Yes, graphically. I can only imagine how long these devs had to work to make graphics on the Xbox this ugly without coming to each gamer’s house and taking pliers to the motherboard. It’s hideous. Simple fields of grass shift and roil like one of Hunter Thompson’s acid hallucinations. It’s awful.
The mechanics are almost identical to Resident Evil 4, if it came out for the PS1 and sucked. Between nonsensical adventure-like cutscene segments, you wind up in combat sections where you’re in a building, purple bleeding zombie ghosts show up, and you shoot them. There are TWO enemy types in the entire game. A standard zombie/ghost who may or may not be armed and a Samara-like wall-crawler that shows up maybe five times the entire game. None of them are a threat, ever. And when they die, despite having different skins, they ALL say the SAME DAMN THING – ‘I don’t want to dieeeeeeee……..‘ – in this pitch-shifted, wheezy voice. I must have heard that 900 frigging times before this thing ended. I still hear it, when things are quiet, when I’m about to sleep. It haunts me.
Combat is tedious and comical at the same time. Tedious because it’s the same routine over and over. Comical because the target locking mechanism focuses your reticule squarely on the crotch of your target. You spend the entire game shooting zombie ghost things in the ass.
Tedious is probably the best word for this game. Everything seems to have been designed to be as monotonous and repetitive as possible. I said it was about 20 hours long. Ten of that is driving. You don’t just drive in this game, you COMMUTE. I don’t know what else you would call driving for five to ten minutes straight, watching the same five textures repeated over and over, listening to a very short, crappy musical bit that loops endlessly that you can’t turn off. You drive a LOT. And you have to get gas. Because, you know, I always find getting gas to be an entertaining part of my day.
You also walk a lot. There are sections where you walk or run in a relatively straight line for a very, very long time. One in particular stands out, where you’re in some dream sequence or something and you’re a small child. You’re trying to find your dad on this path…and it takes around five minutes to completely run this path. Think five minutes doesn’t sound like a long time? Spend it pressing left stick forward while holding down X and listening to a little kid shouting DADDY! DADDY! every five fricking seconds. You will be praying for death before five minutes are up. Did I mention this doesn’t just happen once? Near the finale you spend quite a while running behind a fat man and his dog trying to save the hero. You run all over the damn town, in circles, with pauses every few minutes for the fat guy to stop and tell you about his love life or how much he misses his dead mother. By the time we stopped running, I wanted to shove the potted sapling he always carries (don’t ask) straight up his bulbous ass, pot end first. God I hate that overall-wearing butterball.
The main story is essentially a buttload of cut scenes with those combat segments I mentioned. Thrown in are the worst kind of quick-time events where random button sequences are thrown at you. Some of the cutscenes are so bad they’re hilarious (and many are on YouTube for that reason Creepy posted one last week), but don’t let that tempt you into playing. There are also a bunch of side quests and things to collect. None of them makes any sense, has any place in the story, or is worth any time spent whatsoever except the ones that allow you to make your car go faster so you are spared maybe 10% of the overall drive time during your commutes.
Some of you may be tempted. I can hear you now. This is a quirky weird Japanese game, and I like those! It’s only $20! It’s so bad it’s good!
Let me be clear. This is not good quirky; this is ancient Lovecraftian evil quirky, so powerful is its hatred of mankind and all living things. It’s not ‘only’ $20; it’s $20 of PAIN. It’s not so bad it’s good. It passes that and swings all the way around to ‘It’s so bad it will drive you to abuse liquor and/or have suicidal thoughts.’ Deadly Premonition has a special kind of insanity that does bad things to the human mind. It drove my wife to drink while I was playing it, just to handle the suffering. She really doesn’t drink much, if ever. This is the level of pain involved with this game. I have barely scratched the surface here. This review could easily become a 50-page manifesto of angst, recounting every moment of stupidity and tedium.
What’s terrifying is that this is not a buggy game. It isn’t broken. THEY MEANT IT TO BE THIS WAY. Someone, somewhere spent a lot of time carefully crafting this abomination. Intentionally. We should all be very, very afraid.
Seriously. Let me be Marley to your Scrooge. Don’t make my mistake. You still have a chance. You haven’t played this yet. Save yourself, or suffer for your errors as I have. To paraphrase a particular wine critic, this is not a game for playing; this is a game for laying down and avoiding.
Is this the worst game ever? I … I don’t know. I can’t really think about it that clearly. It hurts too much, and I get all dizzy.
0 out of 5
Discuss Deadly Premonition in the Dread Central forums!