Things X 5 – March 16 2014
This week on Things x 5 we’re going to do things a bit differently than usual. Several members of our staff were talking about Deadly Premonition last week and realized that we were all really enjoying it for one reason or another. Some of us had just started playing it, some of us were finished with the game, and we have various experience with the original release and the new Director’s Cut edition of the game. So for this week’s x5, we’re all going to take a few minutes to sum up what we like about the game and why it ended up surprising us.
The thing that really stands out for me in Deadly Premonition is that it feels so strangely nostalgic. I’m talking mid-90s television nostalgia here. It is basically what would happen if Chris Carter made Twin Peaks. The combination of X-Files style paranormal activity with the surrealism of Lynch’s masterpiece really struck a nerve with me right off the bat. The spoken-out-loud voice-over of the main character with his Police Brand cigarettes is typical of the way that DP takes every opportunity to play to the sensibilities of strange TV. Every time I sit down to play I expect to see Agent Cooper show up to recommend the perfect place to get a damn good slice of pie or have Flukeman attack me as I’m walking through the woods. These are not bad things to feel when playing a video game.
What really blows my mind, is how rare it is that this genre can be pulled off effectively. Outside of Twin Peaks and The X-Files, I think only Supernatural comes close. Though in Supernatural the absurdity is far more tongue in cheek and takes a “wink-wink nudge-nudge” approach to any plot lines that are based on self-effacing or self-referential humor. Deadly Premonition meanwhile wears its absurdist tendencies like a badge of honor and at no point do they break the fourth wall or go for a cheap joke. This commitment to the legitimacy of the game world is admirable and does more than anything to make this one of the least accessible, yet best games ever.
I’ve long been a fan of the ”B movie” – you know, schlocky horror flicks with questionable special effects and even more questionable dialogue. I genuinely enjoy those things, regardless of the level of booze in my bloodstream (although that can help too). Many video games have low production values, and many games have terrible writing, but very few have pulled off that same tongue-in-cheek goofball style – that fantastic absurdism – that I love so much. Onechanbara and the House of the Dead series have done a great job of capturing that ethos, but the real king of the “B game” has to be Deadly Premonition.
I love everything about the non-game aspects of Deadly Premonition. The world and atmosphere are beautifully surreal, and the characters and story are completely ridiculous – yet the entire affair is played straight. It’s wonderful. Too bad about the gameplay, which is… A bit on the iffy side. Still, my experience is with the original version of the game, and I hear the new Director’s Cut fixes some of the worst gameplay issues. Either way, I completely recommend checking the game out if you have even the tiniest amount of appreciation for the B movie.
Deadly Premonition is clumsy, technically dated and absurd. Yet, it’s easily one of the best games I have ever played. The gameplay mechanics haven’t been endlessly tuned, the characters animations are crudely uncanny and the dialogue goes from being corny to shockingly crude, often in a matter of few seconds and I’m not talking about the often badly cued soundtrack. It walks the fine line between being deliberate and erratic. But, all of this plays in favor of the game: Deadly Premonition feels raw, totally unfiltered, and honest.
Playing this game was unsettling at first as I kept wondering if the often hilarious strangeness was intended or just a matter of (bad) luck. Now that I have just finished the game I’m still not sure weather the whole thing was intentional or not. But for me, one thing is certain: Deadly Premonition feels like an uncompromising vision, a masterpiece in its own right.
Also, it’s a pretty neat love story too.
I started playing Deadly Premonition (the original, Xbox 360 exclusive version) more than 2 years ago with a couple of friends. We still haven’t finished it. We play it for a couple of hours every month or so, advancing at a snail’s pace through the story. Playing Deadly Premonition is almost painful; we’re always arguing to decide who will have the burden of holding the controller as watching is often more fun than playing. And yet we’re still motivated to continue and see the ending one day.
In a traditional sense, Deadly Premonition is the very definition of a bad videogame. The gameplay is boring and awkward, the pacing is completely off and the graphics would look bad even if it was a Playstation 2 game. And most of all, the story and dialogues are unbelievably weird and often nonsensical.
Why do we still insist to continue playing that game more than 2 years later, then? Because it’s fascinating. Everything in the game is so unpredictable, gameplay and story-wise, that we always want to see what insanity will be next. Almost everything in Deadly Premonition is “bad,” but often in the best way possible.
I hate playing Deadly Premonition, yet it’s already a cult classic for me. It’s a terrible game, and you should try it as soon as possible.
What’s that Zach? We have free copies of the game to give away?
Yes we do! You really don’t want to miss your chance to experience this cult-classic game for yourself. We’re even giving away the Director’s Cut version of the game, which, from our quick comparisons of notes seems to fix a bunch of the issues that the original game suffered from. To be in the running just follow @4colorrebellion and @RisingStarGames on Twitter and leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of the Director’s Cut on Steam or PS3 courtesy of Rising Star Games! (please state which version you want so we can accommodate your request and make sure everyone who wins ends up with a game on their platform of choice.) Good luck!
Don’t forget, you can drop me hints on my Twitter account. Also, you are welcome to send me a friend request on my Wii U, my Nintendo Network ID is Jorf-Jorf. My 3DS Friend Code is 5069-3920-3758. If you want to snoop at what I’m playing on PS3 my PSN ID is l_am_error. Have a great week!