Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut Review

The power of great writing in video games is nowhere more evident than in Deadly Premonition, and more recently, Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut. While that title is somewhat of a misnomer, the game being only a slightly altered re-release for a new platform rather than what consumers might consider true “director’s cut” content, anyone who missed the original back in 2010 is in luck with the arrival of this definitive, PS3-only version of a uniquely entertaining game that offers some of the best writing available on any console.

At first glance, Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut appears outdated, with visuals reminiscent of the previous generation and controls that seem to borrow directly from early Silent Hill games. Despite  upscaled 720p visuals, or perhaps because of the update, the  game still suffers from technical issues like massive pop-in and frame rate dips. What it hides below this ugly veneer, however, is an engaging murder mystery with equal parts psychological drama and absurd comedy conveyed through its colorful characters.

One thing that Deadly Premonition does very well is minimize the typical aspects of games that often grow to become monotonous filler. In Deadly Premonition, a player may encounter rooms full of creepy, otherworldly spectres, but in most cases one can sprint past them and charge through the door to the next room. Rather than wasting time and ammunition on inconsequential and contrived combat scenarios, the “filler” in this game is comprised of the mundane daily activities that accompany FBI Agent Francis York Morgan’s investigation in the quiet Pacific Northwest town of Greenvale.

Agent Francis York MorganEverything in Deadly Premonition feels authentic in its dullness. From the long drives colored by York’s extended monologues, to managing his hunger and fatigue with food, coffee, and sleep, to laundering his dirty suits, to shaving his ambitious whiskers, the routine of Greenvale life will immerse players in the game’s world, at times to the extent of boredom, but at other times such that it creates an almost therapeutic effect. I dare say that Deadly Premonition is the only game that rewards players for using turn signals while driving.

Obsessions that accompany many gaming experiences are absent in Deadly Premonition‘s expression of reality. During my time with the game, I never felt compelled to horde items, to pick up collectibles, or to partake in any other distinctly artificial activity characteristic of video games. There are, in fact, various items and minor collectibles included in the game, but the impetus to simply progress through the mission far exceeds any compulsion to be waylaid by such distractions. The game was written with focus, and although it provides freedom to explore, it instills that sense of focus in the player, too.

Deadly Premonition: The Director's CutThough authentically dull in its “filler” moments and waiting periods between real-time events (waits are easily bypassed by lighting up one of York’s trademark “heavy cigarettes” – never try this at home), interacting with new townspeople and listening to any and every word spoken by Agent York are genuinely exciting; one can never be sure what crazy interactions wait around the corner, or what priceless commentary on intra-national cultural differences York will spout off next. His genuine shock, awe, and descriptions of the things he sees in Greenvale can be absolutely hilarious.In a game so strongly driven by characters and plot, deficiencies in technical presentation and player interface become insignificant in the light of the broader experience. Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut is one game whose whole unequivically exceeds the sum of its parts, and should be experienced by most gamers, especially those who take an interest in the evolution of the art form or those who truly appreciate good writing in video games.


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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