When Deadly Premonition first came out in 2010 it created a bit of a stir. A lot of reviewers couldn’t get past the dated visuals and technical difficulties of the game. It’s fair to say that it wasn’t until a few key voices in the reviews industry rallied against these critics and began granting the game 10/10, 5/5, GOTY status that people began paying attention to a game that was basically a love letter to late 20th century weirdness. Deadly Premonition is back 3 years later with a new and improved Director’s Cut, and now there is no reason to not check out this screwball title.
The problem I had with both positive and negative reviews back when the original was released is that they focused on the wrong things. The negative reviews couldn’t move past the visuals that seemed like early 360 (Really, it was as good as the original Dead Rising which isn’t that bad) and tank controls that hindered more than it aided the game. The positive ones, on the other hand, gave the game rave reviews but I couldn’t shake off the constant feeling of the “so bad it’s good” attitude towards the game. When I played the game, I didn’t understand the reviews that came out at the time.
Why didn’t people think it was “so good it’s good” like I did?
Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut stars (literally as it plays more like a TV serial with its episodic structure) FBI Agent Francis York Morgan as he’s dragged into the middle of a Northwestern small town by the name of Greenvale (which might as well just be Twin Peaks). What starts out as the mysterious death of a teenage girl soon evolves into a Lynchian descent into a town with a mysterious past, a serial killer with a penchant for the rain, and townspeople that are on the crazy side of the weird spectrum. And everything is so perfect.
How do I begin? The wide cast of characters some lifted straight from Twin Peaks but most just interesting people with their own weird quirks and unique characteristics that makes you feel like you’re really in a small town where you get to basically learn about and befriend everyone? Maybe the town that’s constantly alive with certain stores and shops opening at specific times allowing you to plan an entire day for various tasks and chores? These two elements on their own would make for a pretty realistic game, but when you see NPCs driving down the street on their way to work, or stop by specific diners to have dinner with the local police, or go take in your car for maintenance at the local gas station because you actually need gas to run your car. Then Greenvale might as well be the town I most want to live in if I had to choose a setting for a video game. Everything is just so alive that it’s hard not to simulate real-life when the game, for all its weirdness, is grounded in a real-world logic. You eat at certain times, you fill up your gas, you drive for what seems like forever from one destination to the next; the game keeps you constantly moving that by the end of the full 24 hour day you’re just ready to head back to your hotel room and catch some much needed sleep.
At Deadly Premonition‘s: The Director’s Cut heart is the central mystery, and boy is it a mystery. Not so much that the case at hand is particularly original (Like I said, the Twin Peaks influence is pretty blatant), but more than any other game this is a mystery game. You gather clues, run through evidence procedures, chase down leads, and location scout. The game is not a David Lynch “game”, it’s a David Lynch simulator, and that’s way better than any game could try to achieve.
Combat was my biggest headache with the original and I can say that the revamped controls alleviate most of the issues plaguing the original release. Aiming is smoother and there is now a lock-on button to help you further with tackling the weird, relatively same enemies you fight throughout. It’s still not the most perfect over-the-shoulder shooting, but consider the tallest hurdle for an enjoyable experience relatively cleared.
Aside from the controls, numerous things were improved with the Director’s Cut. Loading times have been significantly improved and the graphics have been given a good overhaul. It’s still nowhere near the levels of Triple A games but if you were expecting that, than you should probably read up a bit more on Deadly Premonition before engaging. Additionally, the new graphics seem to have done something to the engine because I believe there are more frame-rate issues this time around but I’ve forgiven the original for so much more that this is practically nothing (but definitely noticeable). The story has been expanded so much so that newcomers won’t be left out while veterans will find something new for a second running. Deadly Premonition Director’s Cut is the definitive version of the game so if this is your first time with it, congratulations!
Aside from the Twin Peaks influence, there’s a handful of others. Manhunter is something that comes to mind but it’s definitely not the only one; not with the characters themselves referencing so many pop-culture staples. Are you a cult canon junky? You’re in luck because this is the cult game of cult games.
The point I want to make is that this game is special. It has a unique charm that’s hard to find these days. Instantly memorable (regardless of whether or not those reasons are good or bad), and depending on your disposition, immediately lovable. This game isn’t for everyone but chances are if you are the type who wants unique experiences then this game is for you, especially now that a much better version of a pretty great game is available. You don’t have to tilt your head to understand that Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut has a vibrancy that can only be possible if someone wanted to create a world they wanted people to live and breathe in; and let me tell you Zach, Greenvale is such a town.
[+Still the same wonderful little town][+Personality all its own][+Director’s Cut improves many of the issues of the original][-Frame rate issues definitely apparent][-Unfortunately not for everyone, but that’s okay]