Oooh boy. What can I say about Deadly Premonition? Simply put, it is a contradiction upon itself. It is both amazing, awful, hilarious, horrible, sad, detailed, revolutionary, aggravating, and awesome at the same time. Why is that? A couple of reasons.
Special Agent Francis York Morgan is sent to investigate a cult-like series of murders in the town of Greenvale. Francis also talks to an imaginary friend in his head, a man named 'Zach' while he investigates the murders. Overall it sounds simple, right?
One of the biggest problems in Deadly Premonition is the writing. While I do like the voice acting in this, you can tell it's one of those games that is...loosely translated from its Japanese equivalent. But even beyond that is the sheer insanity of the writing. York will easily spend several minutes-in real time-talking to Zach about what his favorite movie is, and I don't think the horror game hinges on whether or not he's a Jaws fan (spoiler warning-he is). The player will also spend hours doing menial tasks and talking about how great it is that turkey, strawberry jam, and cereal can fit into a sandwich. I wish I was joking.
As an example of the insane writing in the game, it occurs to me that the Sheriff's department of Greenvale sure do take a lot of things in stride. They have an FBI agent who basically takes over, talks about details of the investigation to an imaginary person, and starts shooting up random places like the hospital (earlier I thought fighting supernatural creatures was all in his mind, but no, he's literally shooting at things next door in a hospital and no one bats an eye!) In case that doesn't seem cray enough, that same FBI agent decides to gather the townspeople together in a theater so he can have every police officer in the sheriff's office strip down on the stage so he can examine them for tattoos, because, obviously a private room would have made too much sense. Honestly, not one police officer called the FBI to get this guy removed? Really??
What else is there? I honestly quit this game in the first level at first because....I didn't know how to play it. There was no tutorial in the beginning which might have been a tad helpful, and from my perspective a whole bunch of random unbeatable opponents attacked me and I couldn't figure out what to do. It was only years later did I try a second playthrough to complete the game. And the music.....hm, how can I describe the music? It was as if the studio hired an intern who decided HIS horn was going to be prominent in the game, often overriding other music, dialogue, and emotional scenes at all times.
So, obviously I don't like the writing, the music, the gameplay, and the graphics to some extent. And yet, I love this game. Besides the hilarity, Deadly Premonition is one of the very few games that have an open-world element in a horror setting, with York being able to interact with multiple characters and do a variety of side quests. And, it was one of the few games at the time that had a transvestite and homosexuality portrayed in a somewhat positive light, and it was nice to see that wasn't edited to shreds in the American version.
Once I got through the first level and made it through the game...the ending was one of the most emotional endings to a game I've ever played. The game forces us to spend so much time with the characters that it really does have some weight when something bad happens to them. And despite the dialogue being somewhat crazy at times, it has a very intriguing mystery which carries the game.
FINAL GRADE: 2.5 out of 5. There's a reason why critics are equally divided on whether or not this game is good. It has both some great and horrible elements.
Now where can I find one of those sandwiches?