The Archive of Lost Games Vol. 4: Deadly Premonition (XB360)

By Danny “Barnaby” Butler

Chattanooga (UTC/The Loop)- Welcome one and all to another glorious edition of the Archive of Lost Games. This week, we are covering the Xbox 360 game, Deadly Premonition from Ignition Entertainment. I am your host and archive curator, Danny “Barnaby” Butler, and once again, I am joined by my esteemed colleague, senior archivist James Webb.

This week’s game is a bit a of a strange one. Fans of the blog will most likely know the name and reputation for Marvelous Studios, but for everyone else, Marvelous is know for localizing titles such as Muramasa; the Demon Blade, King of Fighters XII, Nostalgia and others.

Can you solve the mystery of the Raincoat Killer before it is too late?

Can you solve the mystery of the Raincoat Killer before it is too late?

One of the first things you will most likely notice is the low quality of the graphics. This was done out of necessity, since the game’s budget was quite small, but Deadlymakes up for poor quality visuals with stellar storytelling, unique characters and inspired gameplay. To sum up the game plot at a glance, you play as FBI agent Francis York Morgan tasked with solving a series of murders which have led you to the small town of Greenvale, near the Canadian border.

York, as he is called through most of the game, is kinda crazy, and he is often seen chatting with his long-time friend “Zach,” which may or may not be the player. He occasionally assigns Zach “homework” in the form of obscure movie trivia and regales him with tales about his past cases. These segments are quite enjoyable and great way of passing time in the game, which works at a near real time pace. While some might grow tired of the slow pacing, it gives the game an organic sense of realism which helps draw the player into the story.

Deadly Premonition for the Xbox 360

Deadly Premonition for the Xbox 360

The full world immersion doesn’t stop there. Driving is also done in real time, so if you have an appointment to make on the other side of town, you’re going to be driving for a good 10 minutes or so. On top of all of these features, the player must also change clothing frequently to avoid becoming a “stinky agent” (flies start buzzing around the character, and they can be quite distracting), shave their beard (Webb: “best beard mechanics ever!”) and eat periodically throughout the day. Forgetting to do this things can cause players to be too tired or hungry to complete missions.

The town of Greenvale is about 8 kilometers in diameter, and you feel every minute of that while trying the solve the mystery at hand. Nearly every car has a certain allotment of gas, and if York’s tank runs dry, it’s game over.

The plot of Deadly was supposedly inspired by Twin Peaks, a popular TV series which ran during the early ’90s. While it is not a requirement to have seen the series before paying Deadly Premonition, it definitely enhances the experience.

“Having seen all of Twin Peaks,” Webb said, “it gave me a bit insight into the plot, and the characters felt a bit familiar straight from the start.”

The town is also loaded with hidden references and easter eggs for those familiar with the series, Webb said.

Twin Peaks, a '90s crime drama, is considered the spiritual father to Deadly Premonition. The show was directed by David Lynch and featured the smoking hot Lara Flynn Boyle and the quirky Kyle MacLachlan.

Twin Peaks, a '90s crime drama, is considered the spiritual father to Deadly Premonition. The show was directed by David Lynch and featured the smoking hot Lara Flynn Boyle and the quirky Kyle MacLachlan.

Deadly‘s gameplay resembles older Silent Hillgames (they even have awkward camera angles from time to time that truely make you fear for your life) with portions of the game playing a bit more like the chases encountered in the Clock Towerseries. York is equipped with a special 9mm, and he can pick up or purchase ever other weapons ranging from katanas to machine guns.

If you are looking for a unique horror/mystery for you Xbox 360, look no further than Deadly Premonition. Sure, it is not the greatest looking game, but for $20 new, it contains a remarkable amount of content, a great story, unique gameplay and the coolest beard mechanics ever.

Tune in for the next Archive, were we will be reviewing Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection for the PS3. Until then, this is Barnaby signing off. Ciao!

Screenshots courtesy of GameSpot.com

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Comments

  1. When I first saw trailers for Deadly Premonition, I was quite intrigued (I love adventure and survival horror games)-so I was going to get this game regardless price or quality (there are so few games in those genres these days that it’s hard to get my fix)… and when I heard that it was going to be 20 bucks, I got even more excited (most budget games these days cost 40… which is 20 bucks more than what a budget game cost one console generation ago). I have to say, I’ve been very pleasantly surprised with this game.

    Graphically, it’s no showboat, that’s for sure, but it’s competent–especially for the price. The character models look like high-end original XBOX models, but the environments, especially texture-wise, are rather lacking. I had seen the previews and the price tag, so I wasn’t going in expecting Crysis; but if you’re a graphics whore, you will be quite disappointed. Regardless of the low polygon count and texture resolutions, I really liked the game’s atmosphere–the environments are intriguing and surreal which really helps maintain the game’s mood.

    The story is captivating and very well done with a competent cast, especially for a budget title, to help keep you engaged for the 20+ hour campaign. It’s an odd blend of surreal horror and quirky humor that manages to work well together. It’s quite unlike anything you’ll experience in a big budget title… the game takes a lot of risks, which is probably why it ended up being a budget title (ie. if they produced the game with a larger budget, if it flopped, the loss would have been much greater–so, they managed to take risks with a low budget to see if it was a formula that worked).

    The gameplay may feel a bit dated, but I grew up on games like Silent Hill and Resident Evil and I honestly think it works well for a horror game because it adds a layer of intensity instead of making your character an indestructible superhuman space marine. You’re placed in a free roaming town with plenty of places to explore and things to do… like more things to do than a lot of 60 dollar games these days. The vehicle segments can be a chore because they handle like bricks on square wheels, so that’s a bit disappointing, but not an entirely game-breaking experience because they’re not really a huge part of the game. Some really creative things were done with the time cycle and character management–your character will grow a beard as time progresses, so you can shave that to keep your image more appealing to those around you… if you don’t change your clothes regularly, flies will gather around you… stuff like that. It’s quite fascinating and is something you don’t normally see in games.

    The sound design would be my biggest complaint… it’s like watching an old movie where the music is so loud and the dialogue is so quiet that it’s almost hard to pay attention to what’s going on. I turned the bgm music down to 30 and have the voices volume at 100% and it still had issues, so I put on subtitles. The music can also be a buzz kill with only a few songs that cycle during character interactions and key plot points… some of them feel really out of place (there’s one happy little diddy with whistling that is just odd to hear when you’re investigating a murder… and it WILL get stuck in your head).

    If you can muscle through some torturous tunes, the game is really a treat. It has an engaging story with a lot of charm of its own that you won’t find in most mainstream games, a lengthy campaign, and a very affordable price. It may not be a looker, but even had this game been released with the standard $40 budget price, it would have been well worth the cash–so, $20 is quite the steal.