I have been accused of being a chauvinist for the cause of Deadly Premonition—that my love for the game eclipses any ability to think critically about its flaws. I don't believe this is the case, and I'm happy to admit it that the game is loaded with flaws.
In the last article I skipped over yet another fascinating detail of the game's story, but not without cause. I've previously discussed just how voluminous the game's supplemental material is, and how it's profoundly worth it for the player to take the time to fully explore Greenvale—there's one problem with it, however. In order to see everything, the game absolutely must be played twice.
I've already talked about some of the moments that captivated me during my first run through Deadly Premonition, now I'd like to cover the first moment that really made me question my initial assumption that I was playing a brilliant subversion of video game tropes—the last moment during which I doubted Deadly Premonition's intentions (if not its execution—there would be plenty of doubt left to come on that front).
Information control is one of the most vital components of storytelling—deciding when and how your audience gets pieces of information can be almost as important as the details of the information itself. This is yet another place where Deadly Premonition breaks ranks with videogame convention. If the player is strictly following the storyline there's a proscribed time and place for York to meet all of the town's denizens. If, however, York and Zach decide that getting to the police station and starting the plot isn't a priority, then the the two of them are free to meet almost all of the game's characters at their own pace.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume you're familiar with the game Bionic Commando for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Not the excellent remake for modern systems, or the 3D sequel, both developed by GRIN. No, I'm talking about the original version, because it's extremely similar to Deadly Premonition in one key way. Both feature crippling design flaws that result from poor documentation.
It's time to take a look at Deadly Premonition's claim of being the first true "open world" horror videogame. A claim that, while technically true, may mislead people about what kind of game they're going to be playing.
The amazing thing—and I'm almost sad that I'm trying to keep this spoiler-light for the time being, because I'd love to expound on the psychological element right now—is that there are clear reasons offered by the game's story for both York's psychoses and the clear delineation of roles between the two personalities.
With the first interminable combat sequence left in the dust, it's time to a actually start meeting other characters in Deadly Premontion. But before that, let's take a look at a detail that captivated me the first time I played the game, and interests me still—a sequence of no seeming value or consequence.
Is that Deadly Premonition features combat. Any combat at all. Everything bad that has been said about this game’s combat is most likely true—even the farthest-flung flights of exaggerated embellishment. Yes, killing enemies in this game is as unbelievably frustrating and painful as trying to extract your genitals from a saw-toothed vise made out of acid.
This is York Morgan—he'll be our Agent Dale Cooper for the remainder of the running time. That's not to say he's entirely derivative of Twin Peaks' hero—while it's true that the basic idea of the character (lone FBI Agent sent to solve a brutal crime who's unafraid of using metaphysical reasoning when faced with mysteries) owes its existence to Twin Peaks, his specifics, and the degree to which he embraces the bizarre demonstrate clearly that the game's writer was also a fan of the X-Files. Over the course of the game we'll definitely bear witness to some of Fox Mulder's characteristic glibness in the face of the bizarre and obscene, as well as Albert Rosenfeld's famous lack of social niceties.
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