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Review

Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed: May 8, 2013
  • PS3

This Director's Cut fixes a few things and breaks some others, but Deadly Premonition is still a highly flawed, utterly memorable mystery that never stops surprising you.

It's breakfast. FBI agent Francis York Morgan sits at one end of an impossibly long table. The octogenarian hotel proprietor Polly Oxford sits at the other. "It might help to hear you better if I could sit closer," calls out Francis. Polly thinks it's a come-on. "I think I'm a little old for you," she says, invoking the memory of her dearly departed husband as she winces with embarrassment.

You need to wait for the right time of day before you can learn certain critical information.

In the small Pacific Northwestern town of Greenvale, this event isn't that peculiar. After all, Greenvale is home to a lady who totes a cooking pot around with her all day, a physician who delights in the various ways he can eat potato chips, and a wheelchair-bound eccentric who speaks in rhyming couplets by way of his manservant's translation. Francis York Morgan doesn't make his home here--he has come to solve the murder of a local beauty--but he's just as zany as the locals. As he drives down the highway, he engages his unseen companion, Zach, in light conversation, discussing director Richard Donner's filmography and describing the relationship between cartoon cat-and-mouse team Tom and Jerry as though they are a gay couple locked in a slave/master relationship. "He does terrible things to Tom. Nasty, even sadistic things. But that's fine, as long as that's what Tom wants."

In 2010, Xbox 360 owners had their initial chance to absorb every detail of this surreal, Twin Peaks-inspired adventure. Now that Deadly Premonition is on the PlayStation 3, new players get to delight in this so-called director's cut, though there's nothing dramatically improved in this upscaled port. You get a higher resolution and some additional cutscenes that are part of a new framing device, but the game's clear flaws remain intact. Deadly Premonition is still ugly to look at by most standards, yet this version cannot maintain a comfortable frame rate, even when displaying a simple jar of pickles on the screen. Its sound effects are so primitive, it sounds like you're kicking a tin can when you drive into a hedge. The main map's insanely close zoom level and the inability to set your own waypoints make getting around a frustrating chore. If you look at Deadly Premonition simply as a piece of software, it doesn't have much going for it.

But Deadly Premonition isn't just software: it's an eccentric narrative and a display of remarkably authentic artificial behavior. As you explore Greenvale and its rural surroundings, the citizens go about their lives, and their behavior isn't nearly as artificial as you might see in other games. When it's time for lunch, a suspect might leave her home and drive to the local inn, where she sits with Polly during the meal; you might even join them if you're so inclined. The sheriff gets in his car, does his rounds, and drives back to the police station. These people have lives, homes, and jobs. And because they move through the world with their own purposes, their own passions, and their own behaviors, you don't feel like this town was created just for you. You truly are an interloper, disrupting their lives on your search for the truth.

This visit to a museum is hardly pretty as a picture.

That truth is far from mundane. It's clear from the first 30 minutes that something's amiss, and not just because your first glimpse of Agent Morgan has him standing in the center of a red-hued forest, chatting to two dead-eyed twins seated in opulent chairs. No, it's because there are ghostly beings moaning and groaning in the halls of museums and on woodland paths. You can bash on them or shoot them, and at least the Director's Cut improves upon the original's mechanics in two important ways. First, you move around as you do in most third-person action games, rather than like a bottom-heavy tank. Second, enemies are no longer bullet sponges and go down fairly quickly. In fact, it's worth noting that there are no longer any difficulty level options, leaving the lone difficulty level as, essentially, "easy."

But that's just fine. There's nothing particularly compelling about the shooting, which takes a cue from Resident Evil 4, forcing you to stand in place and aim before you can defend yourself. Luckily, the confrontations with freaky wall-crawling, demonic girls (the kind you might see in a number of Japanese horror films) are better for the difficulty adjustment. What makes interacting with Deadly Premonition such a pleasure is that it's constantly changing up the gameplay, and changing up the tone in the process.

Some sequences, such as dual-picture chases that have you escaping a killer's clutches, are terrifying--and a good example of how quick-time events can be used in effective ways. (The QTEs are awkwardly implemented, but they'll have you on the edge of your seat.) Other sections have you running around a junkyard, searching for parts that can be used to upgrade your clunky vehicles to something slightly less clunky. You answer anatomy questions for an overly saccharine nurse, and send your suits out for cleaning lest a swarm of flies pester you.

York pieces together the evidence… in his mind.

The final hours deliver one narrative and gameplay shock after another, which is quite an achievement, considering how well the game establishes from the beginning that you should expect only the unexpected. What comes is, well, unexpected-er. The mood often shifts dramatically from scary to campy, but the brilliant soundtrack does an amazing job of unifying the atmosphere. The audio design has plenty of problems, often allowing the soundtrack to almost overwhelm spoken dialogue. But you won't mind the trouble when you're listening to the jaunty whistling theme that has a tendency to get stuck in your head, or the folksy guitar tune that emphasizes Greenvale's down-home attitude.

Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut isn't a dramatic overhaul, and while improvements like better controls are welcome, the frame rate stutters were not invited guests. Regardless, Deadly Premonition is utterly engrossing. It's a mess by any objective standard: the visuals and audio effects are decrepit, combat mechanics are functional at best, and simple activities like driving and navigating are awkward and obtuse. But Deadly Premonition is absolutely divine all the same, making up its own rules for what it means to be a good game as it goes along, and leaving you happily stupefied by the time you've reached its eye-opening finale.

The Good
Fantastically weird story loaded with eccentric characters
Residents go about their daily lives in authentic fashion
There's always a narrative or gameplay surprise around the corner
Many hours of exploration and lots of memorable moments for a great price
The Bad
Ancient production values
Uncomfortably fluctuating frame rate
Useless map
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Deadly Premonition

About the Author

GameSpot senior editor Kevin VanOrd has a cat named Ollie who refuses to play Rock Band because he always gets stuck pla

Discussion

158 comments
Amorphis2k
Amorphis2k

I'm really enjoying this game. Picked it up today after watching the "Now Playing" with Kevin and I'm really digging it. The humor is a little dry though and watching Francis York pull a dumbbell from his suit pocket was amusing. Whilst there is nothing special about this game sound and visual wise I feel that less is more and that the "B grade" feel of the game is part of its charm.

headsupkid01
headsupkid01

The story is Ok at best. If you can get past the PS1 graphics then you'll like it. 

The_Gaming_Baby
The_Gaming_Baby

I find it impossible read a VanOrd review without his voice saying the words in my head

QtrArt
QtrArt

the game was good,i hope there deadly premonition 2 for ps4

Speranza318
Speranza318

This is an unnecessarily over-hyped game.

I can't believe that it's "acceptable" in the gaming community to praise a game with a decent story and completely unacceptable graphics with current technology.  

I can't go as far as call the story amazing as it's core concepts were already done in the 1990's with games like Xenogears and FFVII.  The contrast between reality (in the game) and the alternate "worlds" (for lack of better word and without ruining the plot) were done in games like Silent Hill.  It's the same rehashed shit with a little twist.

Yay, let's praise the voice acting and dialogue.  This was a true feat when a game like Kingdom Hearts came out for PS2 and the staff hired Disney's/Square's original character voice actors to make the story telling more akin to what we remember growing up.  It should go without saying that games should follow the same standards for hiring excellent voice actors. 

The voice acting is certainly nothing special in this game.  Plus, the facial expressions are so bad that it dissociates even the best voice acting.  If you want an example with excellent voice acting with matched facial expressions,  Enslaved or, dare I say, Heavy Rain (which everyone seems to compare this game to) comes to mind.  Morrigan from Dragon Age is another example of an excellent voice actor that brought a character to life with good facial expressions.

The remake of this game is equivalent to the recent re-make of Baldur's Gate...the graphics are just as bad and the gameplay is not improved enough to be worth the price and the tag "remake".


Maybe it's just me, but I feel like gaming has gone from bad graphics and epic stories to epic graphics and bad stories back to bad graphics and re-hashed "epic" story telling.  I'm still waiting for epic graphics and an epic novel ideas like we saw with game such as Dragon Age, Mass Effect, The Walking Dead, etc

KiriharaZro
KiriharaZro

I think it was a game for Xbox 1, not 360, looks sooooooo bad, the zombie-like enemies look like there were made with cereal boxes.

antpm
antpm

It seems that the "Great Story"-emblem from Xbox 360-version has been "replaced" with "Great Original Soundtrack"-emblem. I understand that the soundtrack has been re-recorded, but why leave out that impressive emblem? Isn't the story great anymore? Has the development team made some major changes to the game's script?

I'm awaiting answer from editor.

SatampraZeiros
SatampraZeiros

I played this game for xbox years ago, its good, the graphics are bad, but if youre interested in good stories youll like it, I wish I was in the states so I could get my hands on this for my PS3 (this one has better graphics and exclusive downloadable content, the 360 version which I have doesnt have any downloadables) it does give you a few chills sometimes (because the controls are kinda iffy) when you cant shoot a "zombie" and kill it outright or when running from the mysterious axe murderer, I collected almost all the cards, but once you get to a certain point in the story theres no going back (the game actually warns you about this, but I messed up, thus I didnt have the chance to get all the cars and cards on the first go around) its a very interesting game, like a mash up of grand theft auto and silent hill, with ps1 graphics (360 version, I read this has better graphics, but really the story is worth the money alone) you might like it you might not, but theres no denying that it is a very unique game.

Warsilver
Warsilver

This is a great review. Some people are immediately calling this game amazing or complete shit, but it actually has some good and bad aspects.

Derugs
Derugs

Looks horrible and really dull.

Kaz32
Kaz32

One of the best games this year, outdated and eccentric with great and touching story. Play this game with this mentality folks: treat this game like a ps2 game with outdated graphics and outdated controls. That way all the graphical issues are ignored and you'll have a lot of fun with this game, like playing Shenmue for the first time. Dont you think so Zach?

innocent69
innocent69

just add 0.5 and it will have the same score as Infamous 2, ha ha ha Gamespot

001011000101101
001011000101101

One of the best games of this gen. A prime example of the fact that graphics doesn't mean anything.

Rimsa_Laded
Rimsa_Laded

You're the worst senior editor of any company ever.

wickdawg01
wickdawg01

What a terrible review. I don't know whether to buy this game or spit on it with how back and forth the reviewer is on it.

DefinitivePlus
DefinitivePlus

What kind of game am I dealing with here? I'm looking for survival horror, is this it? Not had a decent horror on the PlayStation since Silent Hill 2 in my opinion

twaitsfan
twaitsfan

" Zach, remember when we played the first version?  It was unlike any other video game experience either of us had ever had.  And that happy tune... Didn't you set that to be your ringtone?  Too bad we don't have a PS3.  Who knows Zach, maybe I'll get you one for Christmas..."

i_noseworthy
i_noseworthy

When the tagline on the back of the box even fully admits to being the "most critically polarizing game of recent times", you have to know something might be amiss ;)

I happen to think this is an AMAZING GAME, but know what you're getting into. So many people come away disappointed because they for some reason expect a AAA title. It's not, it's budget through and through. And it's all the better for it.

Only thing I find incredibly sketchy with this release is the doubling in price. There's no real new content worth speaking of, and the graphical overhaul is dubious at best. Some report having major errors while playing the game (sound distortion/drops, frame hitches, massive slowdown, etc.) and although I haven't experienced anything too serious yet, many others have. 

So for me, this game is a win, and I think this review nails it. Amazing gameplay (that now controls sooo much better), pitiful production values, with some odd hitches that weren't existent in the 360 release (YMMV). A solid 7 for sure. Drop out the graphics, and I swing this game more towards an 8 or even 9. It really is that good, it's just a shame most won't be able to see past the (incredibly apparent) flaws. 

And that price... yeesh.

TheIfym20
TheIfym20

I love a good murder mystery.

mindhertz
mindhertz

Well if you are reading this then you are interested in DP. Its a very good game. It has a cult following and has a lot of qualities. Great characters, a very moody setting, and memorable scenes.  Once you start playing, its very hard to stop till the mystery is solved. I highly recommend to anyone a fan of Twin Peaks, RE4, or a fan of hidden cult horror games and movies. Might I add a big improvement over the 360 ver. I picked it up day one and have been playing ever since. The Evil Dead of 80s movies. Lots of people wont like it do to the crude way it's shot, but will be memorable in the next 10 years

hadlee73
hadlee73

Not really surprised about the frame rate. With devs wanting to work more with the next gen I imagine all the ports to PS3 over the next few months won't have a whole lot of effort put into them.

Kravyn81
Kravyn81

"...yet this version cannot maintain a comfortable frame rate, even when displaying a simple jar of pickles on the screen."

Hmmm, this is disappointing considering I was really looking forward to this version over the 360 version. I had heard that they were fixing everything from the 360 version, but according to this review they didn't really fix anything and what they did fix seems minimal at best.

Considering you can buy the 360 version for under $20 at GameStop and this supposedly "better" version really isn't that much better but they're charging $40 seems a bit lopsided. I think I'll wait until it's on equal footing price-wise with the 360 version before buying.

twaitsfan
twaitsfan

@Speranza318 I don't even know where to start with the crapulence of your comment.  Mass Effect and Dragon Age being 'novel'?  I enjoyed the games, but their plots were hardly novel.  There were as genre-bound, rote plots as you can find.  

Speranza318
Speranza318

@antpm I wouldn't call the story great by any standards.  It's core concepts have been done in many games dating back to the 1990's which really makes it nothing special.  The "added" story/ending in this game is also nothing to write home about. 


The soundtrack, however, deserves an emblem.

Warsilver
Warsilver

@innocent69They are two completely different games. You should compare this game to other action-horror games.

KiriharaZro
KiriharaZro

@001011000101101  

Yeah but if you remember, the console wars focused on that: the graphics. How many say "that game looks better en 360" or viceversa. In the end the graphics mean everything, thats why we want better hardware and next gen consoles.

_Perfectionist
_Perfectionist

@Rimsa_Laded Actually, he is one of the best. He is able to recognize a great game from a sh***y one. Period.

Warsilver
Warsilver

@wickdawg01 It's not "back and forth", it's a detailed review that tells you both the good and the bad sides of the game. Some people don't mind the bad and will definitely buy the game. Other people can't stand the bad or don't like the good enough, so they won't buy the game. "Back and forth" would be if he said something like "These graphics are great, but the graphics aren't good. The story is amazing, but the story can also be boring", which is not at all what Kevin was doing.

Kravyn81
Kravyn81

@DefinitivePlus Definitely not survival-horror in the vein you're looking for. This is campy, tongue-in-cheek, action-horror. You're not running around scavenging for items or concocting potions or conserving ammo. The game is unique, for sure, but if you're looking for true survival-horror keep looking.

i_noseworthy
i_noseworthy

@mindhertz  

Your first line... something seems off... can't quite...

 Oh. 

Oh my.

That pun is unintentional right?

RollingSun2000
RollingSun2000

@murissocazero You know as well as I do that he meant the original Xbox. Don't be that guy.

@KiriharaZro It wasn't on the Xbox. But it did look bad enough (for back then) to make that mistake.

Iamshmee
Iamshmee

@Speranza318 Every games core concepts are dated, every story is dated, everythings been done over and over since the beginning of time.

The main thing is each time there's new and different flourishes that make it relatable to the current generation of people.

I feel like this game is aimed at people from like 25-35 with most of it's quips. I agree on the soundtrack aspect. I've been learning to play music from it, and it's really fun!

innocent69
innocent69

@Warsilver well some of the monsters in Infamous scared the living bejesus out of me. And don't forget Festival of Blood which has vampires......grrrrrr, scary :)

jecomans
jecomans

@KiriharaZro Most RPG and open world fans want next gen to improve the size of, and interaction with,  the persistent worlds we long for, not the graphics. Better hardware allows you to fill towns and cities with crowds of people who act like they have lives to lead, not tracks to follow, and improve AI to levels where you can truly interact with NPCs without following a limited script.

jecomans
jecomans

@Warsilver If you read consumer reviews here, or IMDB (doesn't matter) you'll notice that 90% of reviews are either 9-10 (OMG!!! BET GAME EVA) or 1-2 (i give this pos a piont for tryin). A 7/10 is very confusing for a lot of people. 

DefinitivePlus
DefinitivePlus

@Kravyn81 @DefinitivePlus 

I might be willing to check it out anyway, but thank you for the insight! Is there anything you could recommend me which you would class as survival horror on console? (PS3/360)

RollingSun2000
RollingSun2000

@dzylon @RollingSun2000 um... okay(?)

I didn't know what else to say at the time to a wise crack reply to a comment I had forgotten about (or that's how it looked... Cloud may also have just been trying to be cute).

dzylon
dzylon

@RollingSun2000 Your definition of "that guy" is flawed if you think responding to an old-ish comment makes you one.

Don't be that guy always accusing others of being that guy.

RollingSun2000
RollingSun2000

After replying to a 5 or 6 month old comment, you seem to be well on your way.

jecomans
jecomans

@Iamshmee I love the very direct David Lynch feel of the game. Although the premise is very Twin Peaks, alot of it is closely referencing Mulholland Drive, from the movie conversations with Zach to Emily being a dead ringer for Naomi Watts' character Betty. 

It's a lot of fun, especially when you're free to roam around unravelling the town for yourself. 

I would much prefer developers put their efforts into making their worlds feel organic, than tarting them up superficially with nice graphics. 

Speranza318
Speranza318

@DefinitivePlus @Kravyn81 Although technically a FPS, Condemned and it's sequel were some of the best crime/horror games on the Xbox 360 to date.  Then you have Silent Hill series, Dead Space, The Last of Us to name a few.

Deadly Premonition More Info

  • First Released
    • PC
    • PlayStation 3
    • Xbox 360
    Go on a decidedly Twin Peaks-like adventure with this new PS3 game from Marvelous.
    7.6
    Average User RatingOut of 768 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Deadly Premonition
    Developed by:
    Access Games
    Published by:
    Rising Star Games, Mastertronic, Marvelous, Ignition Entertainment, Marvelous AQL
    Genres:
    Action, 3D, Open-World, Adventure
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Mature
    All Platforms
    Blood, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Suggestive Themes