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Deadly Premonition 360 Review

25/06/2010 Thinking Scared Gamer Review
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Deadly Premonition 360

Deadly Premonition




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Other GamePeople columnists have reviewed this from their perspective - huh?:
Story Gamer (360)
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Deadly Premonition makes up for its small budget and design missteps with settings and characters that draw you in. A pastiche of disturbing references somehow come together to create a convincingly scary experience - although one that you need the right palate to enjoy.

From the outset it is painfully obvious that Deadly Premonition (The Red Seeds Profile in Japan) has been produced at a lower cost than its piers, and I get the feeling developer Access Games knows it.

Even the opening cut-scene looks like a PS2 game with repeating textures that cause an eye aching dance as the camera pans across the forest. The scene is so long it reaches the point of comedy in its efforts to establish the murder that proves our onward focus. But like much so much of the game, it left me pondering how deliberate this opening is, and if I am missing an elaborate joke.

Nothing about Deadly Premonition feels right; every opportunity for a mistake is taken. As I wrestled with the unnatural controls. with buttons bound to the wrong actions, movement was stiff, and navigation of the menus felt cumbersome, but these slips were never quite enough to break the experience.

Cast as FBI agent York I began the game moving through a darkened forest where I had just crashed my car. With only a flashlight for company, the pale female form that soon blocked my path was unnerving.

What proved to be more shocking was how successful the apparition was as scaring the hell out of me as she started jerkily moving. She seemed to have been constructed from a selection of movie rejects. Channeling The Ring, Exorcist and It, the result should be a shambling mess, but in actuality formed a terror so effective that I forgot the game's unnatural controls.

Somewhere in the movement and form of the ghostly apparition the encounter seemed to me to be one of the most brutal.

Attacks in games can usually be shrugged off, bullets being treated with the same contempt as a scratch from an angry kitten. In Deadly Premonition this is not the case. As I struggled with this first encounter, the demonic form that clutched at York forced her hand down his throat. As I rotated the sticks in order to free myself, York's heath quickly depleted, and the struggle became disturbingly intense.

True, the graphics may not be what I have come to expect, but somewhere in the movement and form of the ghostly apparition the encounter seemed to me to be one of the most brutal I have witnessed in a game.

After this first encounter the forest continued for what felt like forever. Subsequent attacks held less impact, but remained unsettling, as the fallen's screams of "I don't want to die" slowly become more evident.

I was overjoyed to emerge into morning rain that marked the games first taste of safety.

Ploughing my way down the linear path set out for me, I was overjoyed to emerge into morning rain that marked the games first taste of safety.

A tune starts up, a guitar accompanied by a jaunty whistle. Sitting completely at odds with everything that has gone before, there is no indication as to the trigger for the ditty, but I welcomed the safety it seems to offer and set off down the road.

And this is how the game progresses. A dark terrifying scene that outstays its welcome, followed by bizarre exploration and narrative sections. In open sections I tour the town, interviewing the community and unravelling the plot murder. Interactions with the town's people maintain the disjointed feeling of the experience, with York's topics of conversation jumping erratically and frequently punctuated by the most inappropriate moments with the same jaunty tune from the end of the forest.

Somewhere in the movement and form of the ghostly apparition the encounter seemed to me to be one of the most brutal.

It is agent York's quirky nature that proved Deadly Premonition's greatest draw for me. Somehow, as he bounced between serious and outlandish, like an over wound metronome, he remained intriguing and relatable.

Most fascinating of York's foibles is 'Zach', a split personality and constant companion, to whom much exposition (and 80's movie trivia) is directed. It was because of these interactions, and the charm of York, that I happily hacked my way through hours of sub par game play just to reach the next bizarre conversational exchange or 'Zach' moment.

Deadly Premonition released for USD20 in the US on 360. Unfortunately the region lock means that if you don't have a US 360 you are stuck with GBP50 Asian imports like the one I picked up. Usually my opinion of a game does not centre on price but this is one occasion where a possible European budget release is certainly worth a look. This is an interesting title, although at full price maybe a little too much of an acquired taste.

Written by Alex Beech

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Alex Beech writes the Scared Gamer column.

"Games connect us to exhilaration in various ways. I love mine to scare me. Although the shock, horror and gore are all pretty unnerving, nothing comes close to the sweaty palms of playing games that take you to ridiculously high places - InFamous, Mirror's Edge and Uncharted to name a few."

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