There’s always been something about Deadly Premonition that has resonated with a gaming audience. Whether it be the quirky cast of characters you meet along the way, the B-movie sentimentality the pours through every scene or the fragmented nature of its mechanics, the phrase ‘cult hit’ has never rang truer. Those who will sing from the rooftops the merits of Deadly Premonition are acutely aware that, in any other game, its issues would be lauded as a reason to avoid a purchase altogether. The pure definition of ‘stronger than the sum of its parts’ could be the reason why it’s forgiven for its vast misdemeanours.
Ahead of 2020’s Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise, Deadly Premonition Origins arrives on Switch in its original condition, rather than the superior director’s cut – a strange choice considering the latter featured crisper visuals and tighter controls. There’s little here to suggest any work has been done to bring the game up to date. This is a straight port and sadly, it's immediately apparent.
The murkiness of the game's visual palette demonstrates that even upon its original release on PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2010, there was no doubt it belonged on the generation before it. Deadly Premonition was originally a cancelled PS2 game called Rainy Woods before it was rebooted a year later, and there’s enough evidence on the surface to back this up. Toybox Inc’s port runs poorly and looks even worse than what you may remember from almost a decade ago. There’s really only so much charm a game can exude before it begins to feel like it’s taking the brunt of how poorly it plays and looks on its back as a means to cover it up.
And yet, with the game in your hands, it feels almost purposeful. There is nothing quite like Deadly Premonition, and you begin to appreciate what the original developers Access Games were aiming for. The vibe of the third-person action-adventure titles of the era. Elements of Alan Wake and Resident Evil 4 are drip-fed throughout. Upon its original release, there were even comparisons to Twin Peaks, and it’s wholly justified.
As you explore this juddering town of Greenvale you are drawn into the atmosphere, and meeting its inhabitants is often equally hilarious and ridiculous. As first impressions go, you really need to get to know Deadly Premonition Origins in the first instance. There’s an open world to explore and plenty of rocks to uncover.
You play as Francis York Morgan (York), an FBI agent sent to Greenvale to investigate the grisly murder of a young woman. You get to learn a fair bit about York throughout your playthrough, either by waking up and deciding not to go into work and go fishing instead, or (most notably) his split personality which he calls ‘Zach’. You’ll hear York talk to ‘Zach’ throughout the game, either by trying to piece together elements of the case he’s working or, say, what his favourite DVDs are.
There’s excruciating detail in the conversations York has with himself. While some are wildly entertaining, others are seemingly just words flowing through consciousness. He’s an interesting character who is a treat to control as you unravel the case alongside him. Zach, by extension, is you. As York learns more about Greenvale and the truth behind the murder through deductions and uncovering evidence, you’ll begin to almost feel like his subconscious. Yes, Deadly Premonition Origins is quite a unique beast, to say the least.
York’s mental state leads him to find clues in hot coffee, in an almost Sherlockian style of crime investigation. You also need to keep him nourished and awake by feeding him coffee and food you find lying around the dark and dingy areas he explores. His mindset seemingly allows him to question whether or not what he’s seeing before him is actually real, and if he’s the only one that is aware of the paranormal beings that haunt him.
This opens the game up to its shooting combat and, in a genuine Twin Peaks style-twist, these sections appear to work rather well. It’s frankly unforgivable that you’re unable to move whilst shooting your enemies, though you’re never all that overwhelmed with the ghostly beasties that follow you around the locations you’re exploring for clues. They can appear from the ground or the walls through a black gooey substance, and if you find yourself stuck in a particular area, will continue to fumble their way toward you until you find a means of escape.
Thankfully, your trusty FBI pistol has infinite ammo, so as long as you don’t let your enemies get too close – they can grab you and shake you a bit, but nothing worse – it’s easy enough to bring them down with a few shots. As the story progresses you’ll come across shotguns and machine guns which are finite but naturally give that extra kick when necessary.
As your enemies perish they’ll sink into the ground with the cries of ‘I don’t want to die’, which is unintentionally hilarious every single time you hear it. Try saying that statement out loud but in very slow motion. That’s what it sounds like. Every. Single. Time. Wonderful.
For a good portion of Deadly Premonition Origins you’ll be driving around Greenvale, exploring the town’s various hotspots such as a Hospital, a long-closed factory and far more serene locations like the police station (the less said about the squirrel-key finding task in this location, the better) and the forest, where the murdered woman’s body was discovered. If you’ve ever played the game before, you’ll be fully aware of the driving mechanics, which feel akin to pushing a warthog up a mountain. You’re given the master key to every police car in Greenvale early in the story, and they all feel exactly the same.
Of course, with its original release nearly ten years ago at this point, there’s no real waypoint guidance to speak of, rather an enormous red arrow at your desired destination which you’ll come to get to know very well throughout the campaign. Ergo, it’s rather easy to get lost if you don’t consult the map which can either be expanded from the bottom left or can be found in the menus. The latter is few more button taps away, but is far more helpful.
There’s an awful lot to like here then, but there are moments where you just have to sit back and wonder what on earth was being considered upon the game's original development. One sequence where you’re standing in the morgue over the young woman's body, you’ll work out a particular clue and suddenly, inexplicably chirpy music will begin playing under the dialogue, completely removing you from the rather serious discussion taking place.
That's not the only time, either. Upon heading into the forest to investigate the crime scene, as York is in the middle of his deductions, an acoustic guitar soundtrack with a whistling accompaniment begins playing, drowning out the dialogue as if it wasn’t there and without any consideration that you’re currently standing where a young woman was brutally murdered and put on display. Throughout the game, there are music cues that never quite fit in with the otherwise grisly, noir-esque atmosphere. Deadly Premonition Origins is packed with off-kilter moments like this.
Deadly Premonition Origins is chock-full of major issues that in any other series would be reason enough to be cautious of its upcoming sequel. Despite this, the characters and the world of Greenvale are more than enough to make you forgive its fundamental technical flaws, as you can’t help but fall for an absurdly fun narrative and a protagonist that keeps you invested throughout. You may play the game and utterly hate it, but we'd advise you at least give it a chance. It's such a strange and captivating experience that we wager many of you will become lifelong fans regardless of its myriad problems.
Honestly, this one is kinda intriguing to me, and not just because of Jim Sterling's hype for it. I might just pick this one up!
So strange but glad I picked it up. It’s an interesting game.
I absolutely love this game, despite being crap by most definitions of the word. There's just something really captivating about the bizarre dialogue and janky gameplay. To anyone that just thinks it looks bad: it is but that doesn't mean that it's not fun, which it really really is.
The only thing this game lacks is a physical edition
Why is the header image something from DP 2?
This is the video game equivalent of a cheap 70s B-horror movie with a freeze frame ending, which is needless to say the best kind of movie. Nothing makes sense, everything and everyone in it is weird, you're unsure why this game exists and yet, deep down, you know exactly why this game has to exist, and you're reassured and comforted somewhat in the knowledge that it does. It's that kind of a game! Gotta love it.
One thing I thought that was really cool about this game was the town and all the characters in it. They are all unique and it's like Shenmue where you can watch them doing their daily routines and so on. You can see how the developer was very ambitious with this title but they never had much of a budget.
Oh, it's not the Director's Cut? Well that's a pity.
I was watching a gameplay video of this game on Switch and saw it climb up to 60fps some of the time, then while driving it looked like 15fps or so. So I guess it wildly ranges. I still want to try this game sometime...
Why would they not release the directors cut? Switch can handle that version
The extra scenes added where pretty awful and took way greatly from the story and the epilogue makes a sequel harder to make , so better just to get rid of it.
Apart from pointless extra scenes and ending all the other fixes are supposed to be here, making this the best version
I was surprised, but not disappointed, when I started it the first time and found it was the original version and not the directors cut. Having played both before, the only difference I really noticed between the two were the added cutscenes in the directors cut. The graphical changes just weren't that noticeable to me. Everything was still in its wonderful janky glory.
It does make me wonder though if the reason they didn't release the Directors Cut is because the sequel may retcon some things in it? Looking at the two different trailers for the sequel, it very much appears the old man Aaliyah is speaking with is York ( the scars match the ones York has in the first one), but he looks different than he does in the end of the directors cut, and his living situation looks much different. Aaliyah speaks of a case he claimed to have closed 14 years before that I guess has popped up again. Meaning the gameplay with York is him recounting the case from 14 years before and there'll be additional gameplay with her in the present?
It's all speculation based on very little info, but its something I've been wondering about since I saw the trailers.
That tagline was a bit of a stretch, but I think it paid off.
Damn good game we got here, Zach. Damn good.
The number in the score is almost meaningless. You might as well score it fish out of 10.
Honestly, the game is great, but NOT because of the controls. It can be hard to push through at times, and you might just want to watch a Let's Play of it instead.
From what I understand, this is nearly an exact clone of Twin Peaks, which had me sold when I heard that. Still need to start this though. Sooooo many games
@60frames-please Do you ever post comments that don’t involve your namesake?
Any score that is less than 37 out of 10 is wrong.
Isn't that right, Zach?
I'm more on the fence about getting this than I was before reading the review lol... It seems everyone either thinks this game is absolutely incredible or complete trash!
Maybe that is just what the game wants though... hmm
I have such mixed feelings on this game. The vibe the game has is definitely it's strongest quality, it's completely bonkers.
I didn't have the patience to finish it back when I played it. I think you really need to LOVE the vibe it's selling to keep going with it.
Pretty sure this is halfway between the Original and the Directors Cut. Pretty sure most of the controls are from the directors cut plus the game only has easy as an option as in the DC. However, there are none of the cutscenes from the DC.
Does it have gyro aim at all? The ps3 version had move controller support
The proof is in the coffee Zack. Lets discuss this further in the car. I have this urge to voice my thoughts on other works by Spielberg.
This game is so bad, yet so good
I definitely want to buy this game but not for $30. It's $20-$25 elsewhere so I'll wait for the price drop.
Getting the physical version.
I don’t always agree with Jim Sterling, but for any game to be considered a 10/10 by someone, think it has to have, at the very least, some really good qualities that make it worth at least trying out.
If you like Twin Peaks you’ll enjoy this one. At first I was like, “What the heck did I just buy?” But I quickly saw the excellence in it. I’m not very far, but it was definitely worth the money. And I’m tempted to get a physical copy of it too. 7 seems like a fair score because it takes into account its faults and yet appreciates the great qualities of the game.
This game was made by Ed Wood. You don't know it's bad intentionally or it's just bad.
@brandonbwii Rarely! Usually I notice that I'm about to post something sans-60fps related and then add a sentence or comment related to frame rate. I, uh, kinda like 60fps graphics.
Was there ever a physical version to this game? I missed it back when it originally came out but I have to say I’m very interested in trying it out. The Alan Wake comparison got me.
@Elthesensai A quick search showed that it's supposed to get a physical release around November. There's also mention of a Collector's Edition, but there's no info beyond that.
@KyleHyde classic funny, i searched and couldn’t find anything. Thanks for the information I’m going to have to pick this up on physical.
@Wraggadam1 Wow thanks a lot! Looks like I am going to have to import this one.
I've wanted to play this since it was in development, as the Twin Peaks comparisons were pouring in from the very beginning, and that's my style for sure. Now I have no excuses whatsoever.
Just got the physical version and this game sure is weird and in some ways awful, but yeah, at the same time I feel I'm in for a great gaming experience.
@Quarth How did you get on with Deadly Premonition?
@OorWullie Oh, I haven’t played that much yet, a bunch of other games got in the way (read: Animal Crossing/FF VII/FF VIII/World of Final Fantasy/Tokyo Mirage Sessions/Pokémon Mystery Dungeon/Resident Evil 4/Trials of Mana), but I like it so far. It’s terrible in a way, but at the same time charming and captivating. But the driving sucks!
@Quarth it appeals to me but I'm not quite sure why. Something is telling me I'll enjoy it for all its faults but its those faults that are preventing me from pulling the trigger. I said when it came out I'd wait for a discount and now it's had one, 50% one at that, I still can't bring myself to click purchase when there's so many other games I want to buy. Cheers.
@OorWullie If you're not sure, then go for another game instead. I believe it's an aquired taste. This game you play mostly for the bizarre world, characters and story. It's like you're stuck in the uncanny valley with no escape in sight. A bad, but fascinating TV show. 😋
There's a physical edition. Standard and collector's edition.
If you buy the collector's edition from the developer's website, you get a map of the city.
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