The protagonist is an eccentric FBI agent named Francis York Morgan–call him “York,” that’s what everyone calls him. You will know that line by heart yourself, after playing for a few hours, since that’s how York always introduces himself. York is accompanied by Zach, his alternate personality / imaginary friend. York’s conversations with Zach are often the game’s unique way of introducing plot points, background information, and helpful tips to the player. Of course, York also talks to his morning coffee. Take that as you will.
York has been called to the small town of Greenvale to investigate the murder of young diner waitress Anna Graham. By completing storyline missions and various side quests, York uncovers information about the crime with the help of Sheriff George Woodman, his deputy, Emily Wyatt and assistant Thomas MacLaine. During the course of the game, you will meet several of the town’s inhabitants, many of whom are interesting characters of their own right.
Graphics (2 out of 5)
Utter crap. The game looks comparable to PS2 titles at best and makes very limited use of the Xbox 360’s processing power. Most characters have a standard gesture and you can count on seeing them over and over. Hotel owner Polly’s extremely perpendicular posture is particularly jarring, as is Emily’s tendency to wave at us each time she speaks. York’s running animation is laughable, and the unintended comedy of his cheesy grin following some of his pronouncements will have you howling.
Gameplay and Story (4 out of 5)
With the exception of armed combat, this is where Deadly Premonition shines. The town is largely open for exploration, and the storyline provides plenty of free time for York to get out and about and see the sites. Collectables in the form of trading cards give additional insight to characters and plot and also pertain to some of the side quests.
The chase scenes and quick-time events are done well, as QT events go, and for most of the game they are not overused. These events definitely lend a feeling of urgency and danger that is missing from killing the shambling zombies. The dynamic weather system provides an additional layer as most of the businesses close during rainy days.
Sound (2 out of 5)
The music and sound effects in Deadly Premonition appear to have been created by three separate teams. Team A concentrated on eerie mood music with crashing crescendos during the climatic scenes. Team B, however, channeled Andy Griffin for a light-heartedly whistling tune that is often played while York is interrogating and questioning suspects. Team C was largely out on vacation throughout the production and returned to the office just in time to record two moaning death-cries for the Otherworld enemies: “Kill!” and “Don’t want to die!”
Faults aside, Deadly Premonition is an amazing experience for the player interested in story and exploration. The characters have depth and are well-developed, the town is huge and fun to navigate, and there are plenty of side quests and collectibles to keep you busy. The main story includes just over 20 hours of dedicated gameplay, and the side quests can extend that up to about 30 hours. There simply aren’t enough games of this type and if you enjoyed Alan Wake, Indigo Prophecy, or Heavy Rain, you’ll dig Deadly Premonition.