Deadly Premonition As We Play

Deadly Premonition starts as it means to go on: confusingly. Upon booting up the game and mashing my way through the menus, I find myself in a strange, supernatural place with only two twin boys, who also have wings and leafy halos, for company. I walk around for a bit, looking at the random pieces of furniture and household items until the screen stops moving.

The game has crashed. Welcome to Deadly Premonition.

It seems that perhaps my PC was trying to save me. It’s not too long after that I find myself wandering through the woods having taken to the roads in my fancy FBI car. I guess that’s what the protagonist gets for smoking, driving, talking on the phone and bantering with his imaginary friend Zach all at once. His punishment is to find himself surrounded by twisted Silent Hill rejects that walk towards him backwards, their spines crumbled over, so they can stare blankly at him.

I wonder what I’ve gotten myself into. Understand that, I mean me as a reviewer, this is not some in-game realisation. What the fuck am I playing?

That feeling never goes away.

Oh Deadly Premonition, never change. No, I'm kidding please change
Oh Deadly Premonition, never change. No, I’m kidding please change

 


Bad shit’s been going down in the small town of Greenvale and some poor young woman has been brutally murderised. You fill in the boots of Agent York of the FBI, a man who spends equal time blathering to his unseen pal Zach about films as he does to real people; more even. York’s been sent to lend a hand in the investigation of this gruesome crime, presumably because of his ability to ‘profile’ situations. He basically takes wild stabs in the dark and gets extremely lucky.

As York investigates the goings on in this small town, you’ll fend off all sorts of evil forces including some nutcase in a raincoat, creatively named The Raincoat Killer. It’s this figure that is responsible for my poor keyboard being hurled across the room from a failed QTE, so fuck that guy.

Why on earth would failing a QTE cause me to throw my keyboard? Because Deadly Premonition compromises my psychological state. This statement is only slightly hyperbolic.

I’ll be up front: I do not like Deadly Premonition. I see all this talk of it being “so bad it’s good” and that it’s charming in its ineptitude, but my time with the game simply left me feeling deflated. I really had to force myself to play it and, to be completely honest, doing so made me really miserable. Sitting down to play this game was a sure fire way of ruining my mood, and even the thought “I should get back to Deadly Premonition” dented me somewhat.

I’m actually quite surprised given the game’s reputation. I’m not some snooty prick that’s too good for budget games. I went into Deadly Premonition fully expecting to enjoy it as many other gamers have and was horrified to find how much of a chore it was.

Perhaps the charm hasn’t survived the jump to the PC, maybe it was washed away in a flood of fixed resolution and framerate, and frequent crashes. It could just be that my patience was drained by having to constantly attend to technical issues in between short bursts of play. At numerous points I had to restart my computer to fix a known bug that makes your game crash whenever you enter a car.

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Anyway, back to the keyboard story. Eventually I came to an abandoned logging mill and came face to face with The Raincoat Killer. QTEs came at me hard and fast, demanding I smash buttons on the keyboard so as not to die. Fine, I’m a gamer in 2013, I know how QTEs work. I batter A and D until York gathers the strength to roll out of the range of an axe blow. A clumsy chase scene begins in which York stops to push boxes out of the way – ones he could easily step past. I am essentially chewing my own face with frustration.

Three attempts later, I make it through. I reach the elevator at the end of the corridor and I’m home free, until a final QTE sequence pops. Same old same old. I lift my coffee with my right hand while smashing keyboard keys with my left, when suddenly the on-screen prompt tells me to left click, for the first time in this extended QTE mish-mash. Coffee spills as I shunt myself to the right to reach the mouse with my left hand but unfortunately I am too late and York takes an axe to the chest.

Cue the cry of rage, the clattering of an abused keyboard and the wiping up of the coffee with a bit of kitchen roll.

The point of this shocking true story is that Deadly Premonition is not a good game. It’s a horrible game. A horrible, frustrating, ugly mess of a game and while some strange people will love it for that, other people – people like me – will find every second of gameplay roughly translates to an hour of unanesthetized dental surgery.