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SummaryZach, I think you are going to like this game
The GoodI'm agent Francis York Morgan. Please, call me York - everyone does. Zach, can you hear me? I think you should play this little game called Deadly Premonition. I'm sure you'll like it, Zach. I saw it in my coffee today.
You should know that even though the story of Deadly Premonition is a tribute to murder mysteries, television shows such as Twin Peaks (do you remember that one, Zach?) and different B-movies, as a game, it is a very original creation. Now, that doesn't mean all its elements are entirely original. It is set in small fictional North American town where terrible things happen. In this way, it is a bit similar to Silent Hill. It has third-person shooting and melee combat also similar to survival horror games. Which means the main character is not very agile and navigation is deliberately clumsy. It has many interesting elements from RPGs, with side quests and upgrades. And of course, a major influence was GTA with its free-roaming driving.
So basically, Deadly Premonition is an open-world horror game. There aren't many of those around, right, Zach? That's part of what makes the game so fascinating. You see, most horror games are scripted. It's natural: to create suspense, you must have setpieces. Now, Deadly Premonition has such scripted sections. Often during my investigation I was taken to a scary world sealed off from the real one by mysterious red tree branches. Then I had to work my way through creepy zombie-like enemies. These sections were appropriately tense. Fairly straightforward, with just the right doses of exploration and linear advancement. These sections were full of scripted events. Particularly scary and tense were those encounters with the Red Raincoat killer. I have to admit, Zach - I'm not a big fan of quick-time events. But Deadly Premonition is one of the very few games that does them right. They were full of nerve-tickling suspense and created one hell of an atmosphere.
But those sequences are just the tip of the iceberg. I don't want to exaggerate, but I really think Deadly Premonition has the most detailed, fully realized open world since Ultima VII. Now, I'm not talking about graphical detail. On that front, Deadly Premonition has no chance against games like Skyrim. But in terms of interactivity, it is actually almost on par. You can't physically move stuff around, that's true. But there are things everywhere. Seriously, just walk through the game world and try exploring every corner, breaking open every crate, shooting every exploding barrel. There are items to collect everywhere. That already brings Deadly Premonition closer to RPGs, or at least hybrid games like those developed by that Ukrainian company, Deep Shadows (don't you love them, Zach?), or the better-known Dead Island or Far Cry 3.
It gets even better. Sure, the world of a game like GTA IV is visually stunning. It's much more beautiful and at first sight much more appealing than the world of Deadly Premonition. But ask yourself this, Zach: were there really any people in that world? Not just random people, but actual characters inhabiting the city? No. And that's why I compared Deadly Premonition to Ultima VII. Here, characters have their own schedules. They wake up and then they do stuff. That's pretty amazing, considering that there are maybe a couple of dozens fully developed characters with their personal lives, jobs, preferences, quirks, and so on. And they actually do live in that town. You can meet them, you can follow any of them, you can witness them living their everyday life. How is that for an achievement, Zach?
There are many more things I want to mention. Like I said, there are items everywhere. But it's not just one of those games where all you do is gather collectibles for little reason. Here, having all those items emphasizes realism. I myself, the play character (that's what I am now, Zach!), have realistic attributes in the game, as if I were real (which I am!! I'm not dreaming now, am I, Zach?! Zach?!!)...
...I'm sorry. This happens to me sometimes. An old trauma I don't want to talk about. Anyway, as I was saying, I have different attributes. I get sleepy, but can make it through the night if I drink enough coffee. I also get hungry and must eat regularly. If I don't shave a beard will grow on my face. My clothes would get dirty. And again, Deadly Premonition is one of the few games that does this kind of micro-management right. Keeping myself in shape oddly contributes even more to this game's atmosphere. It helps you to identify yourself with the protagonist even more.
So all those items you can find are not just countless weapons upgrades (although there are those, too!) - they are realistic things like onions growing in the wild, a sandwich from a supermarket, a rusty pipe used to hit zombies, fish bait to go fishing on the shore of the quiet lake. And it's not just about items. You can visit so many places and enter so many houses. You can even peek into people's windows and spy on them. You can just explore as much as you want to. And everywhere there is something to discover.
Oh, by the way, Zach. Did I mention the side quests? That's right. There are side quests in the game. About fifty of them, to be more precise! Side quests is one element we all really like in RPGs, don't we, Zach? And again Deadly Premonition crosses the border to another genre to give us delicious questing. These quests are sometimes quite interesting. They aren't obvious, either. I actually had to seek out characters, study their routines to find the right time for a conversation. I had to make choices. And whenever I completed a side quest I was rewarded with something cool.
I was actually rushing through the game, Zach. I didn't do many side quests. But then I went online and found I missed out so much! There was actually a side quest that allowed me to have faster cars and customize them. It's a whole new facet of the game, and I haven't even touched it! Don't you love it when you complete a game and then find out there are many things you have missed? Doesn't that just urge you to play more, really study the game and see everything it has to offer? Talk about replay value.
I think I already said the characters in the game were interesting. Seriously, they are among the most memorable characters I've seen in a video game. They are quirky, yes, and most of them are eccentric and weird. But they are rarely one-dimensional. They are not stereotypical. It's fascinating to get to know them better. And I felt sad when I had to leave the town and say goodbye to them.
Phew... that was quite a lot. And now, one last thing - the story. Yes, story is not the most important component of a video game, and there are plenty of great games with bad stories. But Deadly Premonition is, in fact, a great game with a great story. It is actually a straightforward detective story. A "whodunit", as they call it. A young girl was brutally murdered in a quiet North American town. The identity of the murderer is not revealed until the final portion of the game. The story is complex and full of twists, and the investigation is followed with the same cozy focus as in Agatha Christie's novels. I don't want to be immodest, but I think I'm quite an interesting character myself, an eccentric detective with a mysterious past, a clearly unreliable narrator who is somehow connected to the whole thing. And seriously, I don't know if anyone can see the final plot twist coming. There are also some serious themes treated in the story. Loss of loved ones, psychological trauma, abuse, alienation, love. It is one fine story, Zach. One fine story.
Thanks to all that - detailed world, rich environments, items, side quests, interesting characters, cool story - Deadly Premonition has an incredible charisma and atmosphere. It's hard to understand how it manages to do that with such plain graphics. Now, character graphics aren't bad, and the animation is sometimes surprisingly decent. But still, this proves you achieve greatness with your talent and your creativity, not with your technical tools. Deadly Premonition is, above all, a product of love. It is just one tight package bursting with personality and charm. You'll be living this game. You won't be able to put it down. You'll fall in love with it. It will remain engraved in your memory.
The BadZach, those graphics look like they were made during the PlayStation 2 era. Do you remember that console, Zach? We had quite a few good memories with it. My point is, with all the detail poured into the game it's a pity that it is technically so much behind modern products. I mean, environments could have benefited from purely technical polish, too. Just look at this ugly, poorly textured grass. Driving through rural areas wasn't that exciting. I had a hard time trying to focus on the overall atmosphere instead of paying attention to square hills and bland brown forest roads.
A few more different types of enemies wouldn't have hurt, right, Zach? It's fun to kill all those mindless, slow zombies, but even later levels have little else but variations of them. It's also really easy to kill them off once you get used to the controls. As a matter of fact, I think it was a bit too easy.
Speaking of things I did in the game - I wish I could jump and swim. I only wanted to express my joy, Zach. The joy of being alive, breathing fresh air, catching fish. I wanted to cross that lake, or climb on foot to the top of the hill. But I couldn't. I also couldn't get the car to drive over certain slopes or barriers. Sometimes I just wanted more freedom.
The humor in the story is a bit odd, don't you agree, Zach? I actually think much of it was quite clever. But then there were some parts of the text that sounded almost ridiculous. Some may found humor inappropriate in a horror story. Deadly Premonition often gets weird in general, and I don't think it will contribute to its popularity. But I love how its creator wasn't afraid of using his own unique voice.
Oh, and the PC port. Fixed low resolution, many bugs, crashes, and so on. It took me a while to actually get that version working. Luckily, there are fixes online that solve many of those issues. It's the same story as with Dark Souls again. Now, that was another great game, Zach!..