It’s a bold claim, but it’s very simple. Do you love Twin Peaks? The answer is “yes”, you just don’t know it yet. Go see it on Netflix.
See, told you. You love Twin Peaks.
If the world were just, that show would have six seasons and a movie. But it isn’t, so it’s just a profoundly influential show David Lynch is annoyed to be asked about. Now imagine a bunch of Japanese developers got together and put together an open-world survival horror game that was a tribute to the show.
That, my friends, is Deadly Premonition. You probably didn’t play it, unless you picked it up because you were curious about it and it was a budget title. You might have hated it if you did play it (for reasons we’ll get into). But it’s getting a Director’s Cut next year… and it’s a game you need to play. Why?
It’s Pretty Much Completely Insane
Here’s what’s widely acclaimed as one of the funnier cutscenes from the game (notice that it’s not “the weirdest”):
The entire game is fully of hilariously awkward and uncomfortable moments like this. That is helped partially by the fact that every single character is completely bonkers, including our hero, who has a split personality that he openly talks to. In front of other people. And nobody finds this weird.
Add to this that the game is chock-full of bad jokes and just utter weirdness. The victim that kicks off the plot is Anna Graham, and the best weapon in the game is a guitar. Really.
It Had Some Good Ideas
Survival horror wouldn’t seem to lend itself to an open world game where all the characters have their own independent schedules, not unlike Dead Rising, but it does, and believe it or not, it actually draws you into the story quite a bit, not least because at the very least, talking to the insane locals yields some funny dialogue, and you’ll also probably dig up a sidequest or two into the bargain. It even actually handled quicktime events pretty well, making them a sensible part of the story.
Unfortunately, those ideas were sabotaged by the fact that it was blatantly a PS2 game that overshot its development cycle and landed on the PS3 and Xbox 360 instead. Yes, that cutscene above was on a current-gen console. The controls were sometimes awful as well, something particularly apparent on a 360 and during the combat sections, which were shoehorned into the game during alpha by executives, although it must be said it was actually rather smartly balanced. The good news is…
The Controls And Graphics Are Getting a Total Overhaul
Sony actually paid for the director’s cut, which addressed both critical complaints and the director’s dissatisfaction with how the game turned out, a list of about 200 items in the end. It’s a PS3 exclusive, as a result, but you can’t have everything. At least now characters won’t ram a broom into their back pocket when you talk to them.
It’s A Nice Dose Of Insanity In A Bland Gaming Season
The thing to love the most about Deadly Premonition is that it’s one of the few games to provoke genuine discussion among gamers and critics alike. There are people who deeply hate this game, and for excellent reason. There are also people who passionately love it, for equally excellent reason. But there’s something about this game that breaks people out of the “SUX/ROX” vicious circle on message boards and forces them to genuinely articulate their opinions.
There’s not enough of that, when it comes to video games, and I suspect that even with the technical end of things cleaned up, that’s still going to hold true. If nothing else, it’ll make people think about what they want in a game, and for gamers and developers alike, that can only be a good thing.