Deadly Premonition: Just call him "York"

That's what everyone calls him.



In light of Rising Star Games' announcement to bring the Director's Cut of Deadly Premonition (AKA Red Seeds Profile in Japan), it seemed like the perfect time for a Deadly Premonition appreciation thread.

For those of you who aren't aware, Deadly Premonition is an open-world survival horror mystery game that runs on an accelerated 24-hour cycle similar in pace to Xenoblade Chronicles. It was released to a wide spectrum of critical opinion, some finding it be an utterly magical experience in every way, while others finding it an unplayable mess of half-baked game design concepts with drab visual design. I fall into the former category.

This game is presented with drab and washed-out green hues and backed with occasionally somber and noir-styled music. I say "occasionally" because while much of the soundtrack portrays the shady tone of much of the game's plot, some songs are silly, while others are peaceful and relaxing. The title screen song exemplifies the latter:

The thing that people remember this game for the most, however, is the jarring dichotomy of total immersiveness coupled with intense self-awareness. This is achieved through an interesting narrative hook. See, York speaks to an imaginary friend of his, named Zach. The conversations he has with Zach are both introspective and yet dangerous to the existence of the fourth wall. The game is always reminding you, through gamification of all aspects of town life, that you're still just playing a game, yet each of these minigames or actions that you engage in serve to flesh out the world around you, giving it a life of its own.

The dialogue is sometimes surreal and inappropriate for the situation, yet the story remains as serious and tense as any other well-written thriller, and make no mistake: this game IS well-written. The town of Greenvale is huge, seemingly built to the scale of an actual small town embedded in the mountains, with all its long and winding mountainside roads and small suburban enclaves nestled into the flatter areas of the region. You'll be using your map to navigate everywhere until you learn your way around, and if you spend any amount of time with this game, you will learn your way around. York is a cautious and safe driver, making sure to stay under the speed limit, so you'll be spending quite some time immersed in your fake car simulator. This fake car also requires gasoline to run, so occasional stops for gas at the local gas station are definitely a thing in the world of Deadly Premonition. Cars control like how we imagine an actual vehicle controlled by a game controller might control, like a heavy box sliding across shag carpeting or some other bizarre simile designed to make you think of something with clunky, weighted movement. It's awkward at first, but endearing rather than infuriating.

As for taking care of York, he has a health meter and a pulse meter, the latter of which increases from running or holding his breath (we'll get into that later). It's treated like the stamina meter in Demon's/Dark Souls, recharging when not being used. Outside of basic movement and field interaction, York also has a hunger meter and a fatigue meter, so regular eating and sleeping are required to keep him in tip-top shape, or at least in serviceable shape. If the fatigue meter drops to zero, the hunger meter depletes more quickly. If the hunger meter fully depletes, then York will start taking a hit to his health meter. You'll find plenty of things to snack on as the game progresses, so don't be afraid to use the resources you're given. York's life depends on it!

York's facial hair also grows in real-time, and shaving in your hotel room nets you a tiny cash reward as an incentive to stay fresh-faced, while still allowing you to grow that beard out and look like a REAL MAN everywhere you go. It also makes York look quite a bit more deranged, with more random shading occurring across his face that makes him look less like a fresh-faced Dale Cooper-type, and more like that weird guy in line at the DMV who seems to find something funny. That suit you're wearing? You might want to make sure you get it dry cleaned to keep looking your best. York wants to look his best, but he needs YOUR help to do so. If you don't clean his clothes for an extended period of time, York will have flies buzzing around him, and the FBI docks his pay for being a "stinky agent."

The game also features several dozen sidequests, mostly of the fetching variety, which require York to go find particular items and bring them back to the person for a reward. Also like Xenoblade, the townsfolk operate on a 24-hour cycle, going about their daily routines before retiring to their homes for the night, or even taking on their night shift jobs. Each NPC has their own personality and connections to other characters, giving this dreary town enough personality and heart to make even the most morose agent crack a smile. In the first few hours of the game alone, you'll meet FBI Special Agent Francis York Morgan, Greenvale's surly Sheriff George Woodman, and George's reliable Deputy Sheriff Emily Wyatt. There are others, which I will allow you to discover on your own, but by the time the story reaches its poignant final moments, you'll think of them as family, and will be sad to see your time with them come to an end.

Deadlypremonitionyorkpimp_mediumThe controls are poor,, but not uncomfortable, and very much manageable. The game's combat does allow you to sneak by enemies undetected by holding Left Trigger, which makes York cover his mouth and hold his breath, rendering you invisible to enemies. You miss out on the money earned from offing monsters, but it's ultimately your choice in the matter as to whether you'd prefer to fight everything and earn more money from headshot bonuses, of just run through entire areas to advance the story more quickly.

Deadly Premonition is the most overlooked gem of 2010. Structurally, it feels like the goofy spiritual successor to Shenmue that we never got, molded in the image of Twin Peaks, and sprinkled with a pinch of insanity. If you enjoy games in the slightest, this game is not to be missed. You can argue that some games....well, they're just not for everyone. Not this game. Deadly Premonition IS a game for everyone. It wants to be your friend, if only you'll let it.

Who here has played the game or plans to play it sometime in the near future, like when the PS3 Director's Cut is released?


UPDATE: Here is the new teaser trailer for the Director's Cut! Enjoy!