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.
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.
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.
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