There are very few games as divisive as Access Games’ cult classic Deadly Premonition. Garnering a 10/10 from Destructoid, a 2/10 from IGN, and everywhere in between from everywhere else, the game has been awarded the Guinness World Record of “Most Polarizing Critical Reception for a Survival Horror Game”.
Arguably, it’s probably the most polarizing critically received game period. Personally, it’s one of my favorite games ever, but I’m still not quite sure if the game is amazing or terrible. All I know is that I love it. Anyone who’s seen or played this game would be able to sympathize with that.
Just watch this for an idea of what this game is like:
What’s truly special about Deadly Premonition is that the gameplay is just as batshit crazy as that video. On the surface, the game is essentially an open world survival horror in which the player, as Francis York Morgan, goes around the rural town of Greenvale triggering missions and cutscenes to advance the story and solve the murder case. The combat in the game is exactly like Resident Evil 4, if Resident Evil 4 was made on the original PlayStation. Instead of zombies or even other human enemies, as would be appropriate for the game, you spend these moments fighting weird Samara-like ghost things that apparently nobody else can see.
Even stranger, you fight these in places where other people are loitering around. You and your friends go to the hospital to visit the coroner. They all leave and you stay back to check something. Then you engage in a fifteen minute long shooting spree with these strange zombie ghost things until you get to a room where everyone is waiting for you and nobody notices anything amiss. Not even the main character who was previously just fighting two dozen supernatural enemies.
You also spend a lot of time driving across a very accurately sized rural town. It can literally take fifteen minutes to drive to an objective following the roads. Or you can walk. Really. You can walk dozens of miles to reach your goal if you so choose. And this isn’t some Bethesda or Rockstar type paradise with hidden secrets, dungeons, and cool things everywhere. No, this is a rural town. There’s a General Store in town where you can get stuff and an Inn to spend the night. That’s about it. Oh, and some gas stations, because your car has a limited fuel supply, along with a repair shop in case you damage your car. The game does not skimp on the details.
And they don’t stop there either. Francis York Morgan has to change his clothes often or else they’ll start to get dirty and attract flies. He has to eat and sleep regularly as well to keep up his energy for day-to-day tasks. He can even shave his beard. What was the last game that let you groom your facial hair that didn’t involve presets that could take you from Abercrombie & Fitch model to lumberjack in less than a moment? At the end of various moments of the story, you get a cash award from the FBI that seems to be your salary. You get paid a lot and frequently, given how realistic the game otherwise is with minute details of everyday life. But, clearly, this version of the US is in dire straights considering lollipops are about $27. So perhaps your frequent high salary is nothing more than a pittance.
Deadly Premonition’s gameplay is about as inane as the rest of the game. Along with the story, characters, writing, graphics, music, and even the menu screen (it’s like Fable 3′s, but appropriate and doesn’t suck), the gameplay defines Deadly Premonition as the most inane game of this generation. It’s polarity is well deserved and, really, the game should be experienced by everyone. There’s a very, very good chance it could become your favorite train wreck ever.