Saturday, March 19, 2011

Review: Deadly Premonition

It's not often you find a good budget priced game for today's HD consoles, Deadly Premonition set out to be one. A classic survival horror game with a unique and well told story, that was the promise, but how close to that promise is the final product? Read on to find out!

Deadly Premonition
Developed by Access Games
Published by Rising Star Games and Marvelous Entertainment Inc.
Played on Xbox 360, also available on PS3 (Japan Only)
Reviewed by Tobbii Karlsson

Deadly Premonition is by all means unique and original. The story, while obviously inspired by Twin Peaks, is one of terrifying horror, good laughs, epic moments and, most importantly, consistency. Speaking about DP's storyline is hard to do without ruining it for future players. But I'll try my best to sum it up shortly. You play as FBI Agent Francis York Morgan, call him York. Right off the bat you're introduced to his special ways of working. Whether it's predicting tomorrow in a cup of coffee or speaking to his imaginary friend Zach in public. He arrives in the town of Greenvale to investigate a strange murder that connects to previous cases of his, while trying to find the truth, York runs into the mystical Raincoat Killer (Calm down Heavy Rain fans, DP was in development with this in mind for about just as long as Heavy Rain was.) and as the truth unwraps we're met with amazing plot-twists that both makes perfect sense and was hard to see coming. To put it short, DP has a great storyline that anyone who likes supernatural horror should enjoy.

The gameplay is very reminiscent of Resident Evil and the original Alone in the Dark games. You have a good mix of melee weapons and fire arms and you'll be sure to save your ammo. Melee weapons tend to do more damage that firearms, but getting close to the enemies is really a dangerous tactic. This makes the game really feel like a true horror game as you're generally scared of fighting the enemies. Thankfully, a lot of the enemies is possible to sneak by if you can hold your breath. But holding your breath is not something you do for free. DP has a great little thing known as the heart meter, when you run, fight or hold your breath it's going to rise and if it goes to high you'll be exhausted and break your stealth and ability to run, something you don't want to lose at some occasions. Thankfully there are items to restore your heart to normal beat-rate. The other bar in the game is the heatlh bar, it's a classic health bar that you'll eat, drink and heal by yourself. No auto-regenerative health here, it would not fit the kind of survival-horror genre that DP wants to fit in to.

There are plenty of QTE's throughout the game, and thanfully they're the smart kind of QTE's that doesn't auto kill you if you fail, some times. In stead, failing multiple QTE's or losing one at low health will end in your death while other will hurt you and let you continue. Sometimes there are even different QTE patterns depending on which you fail or succeed. Personally, these are the kind of QTE's that I enjoy the most. Half the game is free roaming with time passing at a good pace, but if you don't feel like waiting for your next mission to start you can always light a cigarette and waste time until it's mission time

In this free roaming mode you're also able to drive around town as you have access to all police cars in town. There are tons of collectable cards with characters showing information such as age and interests. There are also a good amount of puzzles here and there in the game, something I felt have been lacking in horror games as of lately. I could not possibly list all things possible to do in this game, there's too much to list. You can buy clothes that are active in all cutscenes as they are one hundred percentage in-game, you can unlock weapons with infinite ammo and there are more side quests here than I could ever imagine. With all this content, good replay value is given. There are three difficulty settings, Easy, Medium and Hard. I'm one of the quickest people to finish the game on the first try and it still took me about 15-16 hours to finish the main quest.

The control scheme is however, very dated. As a regular player of the old Resident Evil titles, this is no problem to me, but it's be stupid of me to not explain as to why you might not like them. First of all, the game uses tank control, where forward is always forward and left and right is simply used for turning. You can not use the right stick to manoeuvre anything but where your character is looking. You need to hold down the right trigger and press A to fire at your enemies and you need to hold down X to run. To put it simple, if you have played Resident Evil 4 a lot or play Resident Evil 5 with Type B controls you should be familiar with it. As for whether or not you'll like it is up to you. I should mention that I've heard people having problems driving in the game, I did not find it that hard. Just don't hit the gas to hard and try to turn smooth and slow, if you do that you should be just fine.

Visually, this game is below modern standards. Don't get me wrong, the character models have great details and look very good. But the enviroment is simply a mess, bad textures and clunky terrain is all over the place. It's nothing game breaking, but fans of graphical masterpieces might want to look someplace else. With that said, the weather effects look really nice, and the visual art style itself is good. But keep in mind that it's a budget priced game to begin with. As for the musical score however, it's brilliant. The soundtrack of DP is something I wish I would have encountered before we gave out our Game of the Year awards as it's one of the best soundtracks for any game this generation. The voice acting in the game is uneven however. Sometimes it's great while at other times it's on the level of the original Resident Evil, and that's saying something.

But let me add a special segment here devoted to how much I LAUGHED while playing this game. Don't get me wrong, the story is deep and great, but this game knows very well that it's a game with a supernatural story. The game has various silly moments or bits of dialogue that will make you laugh hysterically weeks after you first heard it. This is one of many reasons as to why DP is unique. Swery41, the brain behind this game, knew exactly what he was doing with this game, and it shines brightly for anyone who can take their time and play this game to the ending. You'll laugh like crazy, you'll be on the edge of your seat, you'll be scared to death and at the end, maybe you'll even shed a few tears. And to be honest, what more could you possibly ask for?

DP is not perfect, but it's such a great title that all its little flaws are easily overshined in no time at all. The only reason you might not enjoy it is if you can't get used to the controls, and if that's the case you're missing out, and I feel sorry for you. So says Mr. Tobbii.

Story: 10/10        Gameplay: 9.5/10        Controls: 7/10
Replay Value: 8.5/10        Visuals: 5/10        Audio: 7/10
Total Score 9.0/10.0
Close to Perfect
Buy This Game

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