Deadly Premonition

Deadly Premonition Review for Xbox 360

On: Xbox 360PS3PC

In the game players take on the role of FBI Special Agent Francis York, and are charged with investigating the shocking, ritualistic and brutal murder of a local girl.

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8Out of 10
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Deadly Premonition screenshot
Deadly Premonition screenshot

Cult games, in the truest sense of the term, are comparatively rare animals these days. You'll occasionally hear non-gamers applying the label to franchises like Portal, Tomb Raider, or even World of Warcraft - but all of these games are massive success stories, with millions of fans. A true cult game should be the equivalent to a Roger Corman movie: unconventional, divisive, and perhaps even flawed - but with a select army of supporters who love it none the less. And this description fits Deadly Premonition like a glove - a six-fingered glove with a caffeine problem.

Despite its budget-title status, Deadly Premonition has already had quite a bit of attention, from both European critics and the American press, who got their hands on the game earlier in the year. Opinions and review scores have varied wildly, but most people are agreed on one thing: it's a damn weird game, even if you're a massive fan of David Lynch's Twin Peaks - the TV show that's clearly been used as the primary source of inspiration.

Deadly Premonition follows the curious adventures of FBI Agent Francis York Morgan; he'd rather that you simply call him York, and points this preference out to everyone he meets. York isn't your typical suited investigator: He's brash, arrogant, and boasts a twin addiction for coffee and cigarettes. The latter are lit via a Zippo emblazoned with an ironic No Smoking logo; the former are used as steaming hot fortune-telling devices. By glancing into a hot cup of Joe, York is apparently able to divine the future. York is accompanied at all times by his best friend Zach, who appears to be a figment of the imagination. York doesn't let this fact prevent him from conversing with Zach in public, however - often conducting one-sided chats, even when he's in the company of others.

York (and Zach) have come to the quiet American town of Greenvale in search of a murderer: someone has sliced open one of the local girls and then left her to die in a tree, and York believes the killing has a link to several other deaths, committed across the States. It's a grizzly way to start a story, but nothing can truly prepare you for the wonderful, outright oddness that follows. It's no small understatement to say that Deadly Premonition's plot deals in themes and imagery that few games have dared to touch upon. The game itself is equally unconventional, partly due to the imagination of its director - Hidetaka "SWERY" Suehiro - and partly due to the fact that a lot of the core mechanics are all over the place.

Deadly Premonition screenshot

Structure-wise, this is a game of two halves. For much of the story you'll be driving around the open world playground of Greenvale itself, chatting to the town's inhabitants. Many of the locals are as odd as York himself, though few are so instantly lovable. There's a surly ex-con running the local gas station, a man who refuses to help the police but who'll happily chat to the image of Ben Franklin on a $100 bill. There's also a terrifying, reclusive tycoon in a wheelchair, and his assistant - a man who speaks via rhyming poems. Other inhabitants include a cadaverous gravedigger, a manic lady obsessed with her cooking pot, and a seductive but callous woman who runs the local art gallery. The Sheriff's office is also home to a trio of reluctant allies for York - a gruff weightlifter, a nervous masterchef, and a sharp young woman who's the spitting image of Naomi Watts.

The story unfolds in absolute real time, and specific events will only take place at certain times and locations. Rather than the intense pressure of something like Dead Rising, however, you're usually left with several hours to get to where you need to be - in fact, you'll have to speed up time by smoking cigarettes (they do that, so I hear). There's ample opportunity to complete the 50-odd side quests that are dispensed by the oddball NPCs - and if you do this, you'll gain unique items that make your life considerably easier, for reasons I'll explain later.

Even if you happen to miss a deadline, the game lets you repeat the event the same time the next day - even in situations where a suspect would invariably flee to the hills and never be seen again. Incidentally, none of these mechanics are ever really explained to you; you have to work everything out for yourself, bouncing off lumps in the game design - much in the same way that York's car ricochets off the scenery when you're driving around down. The vehicle mechanics in Deadly Premonition appear to have been culled from an early PS2 release - which is not hugely surprising, as that was originally the game's intended platform.

Eventually, when you've spent enough time crashing into concrete banks of grass in your painfully slow car, you'll end up in one of the game's Silent Hill-style sequences. Here the normal scenery morphs into a horrible doppelganger of its normal self, and York is forced to battle panda-eyed zombies, who tend to walk backwards towards him. If one of these blighters gets close, they'll attempt to climb down his throat, arms-first. When successfully killed - either via firearm or degradable melee weapon - they tend to wail "I don't want to die!" in a mournful voice. These foes rarely pose much of a threat, but they're also quite unnerving - or at least they would be, if they didn't constitute 95 per cent of the enemies in the game.

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User Comments

Woffls's Avatar


The Metro recognises Deadly Premonition as something relevant?? I'm surprised. Will read this lates.
Posted 10:02 on 27 October 2011


Just in case any be interested, here's a link with an interview with SWERY - the numero uno coder type.
Posted 23:02 on 26 October 2011
xboxlive's Avatar


Nice :) will have to pick this game up afther silent hill homecoming
Posted 14:10 on 18 May 2011
Woffls's Avatar

Woffls@ xboxlive

Well, it can seem a bit messy, but it's still really well constructed so it's just a case of stringing it all together and figuring out what's going on.

By "messed up story" I meant that there's some disturbing stuff going on :scared:
Posted 14:07 on 18 May 2011
xboxlive's Avatar


:) Ive played bits of slient hill when i had it on rent,and just forgot about the game,also im not expect much out of DP,but wat do you mean "most messed up story" is the story all over the place?
Posted 13:52 on 18 May 2011
Woffls's Avatar

Woffls@ mydeaddog

WHAT?! DP scared the hell out of me :( Knowing that the Raincoat Killer could pop out at any time during those particular sequences put me on edge the whole time. Did you play it in the dark and stuff?

XBL, if you're after a horror game, this might not be what you're expecting. Pretty much all the mechanics are broken, but there's just something about it that makes it one of the best games I played last year.

Going into this game with any specific expectations is probably a bad idea, because it's very easy to hate Deadly Premonition if it's not giving you the experience you want.

Play it anyway, but don't expect anything... other than the most messed up story in the history of everything ever.
Posted 13:31 on 18 May 2011
mydeaddog's Avatar


As much as I love Deadly Premonition, it's not particularly scary. It gets increasingly messed up as the story progresses and has a couple of great moments that are really disturbing, but it certainly won't put you on edge like Silent Hill.

You should definitely give it a go, but be warned that it's super weird and massively dated in many aspects. Still, I love it to bits.
Posted 11:02 on 18 May 2011
xboxlive's Avatar


Planing on picking this game up and Silent hill homecoming as i need some scary games to play lol.
Posted 10:55 on 18 May 2011
Clockpunk's Avatar


I always laugh whenever I see the can of pickles as a food item (the first you come across, even), which is simply labelled 'The Pickles'.

I don't know why I find it so funny, but I just do. :D
Posted 22:01 on 21 November 2010
mydeaddog's Avatar

mydeaddog@ Neon-Soldier32

It's genuinely one of my favourite game plots. The fact that I'm a massive Lynch/Twin Peaks fan undoubtedly plays into this, but the story here eventually becomes its own thing. It's a bit slow to get going; there are a couple of cracking scenes in Chapter 1, but it's Chapter 2 where things really kick off.

I'm glad that lots of you are interested in taking a look, and I hope that you all like it. As I said, there's an awful lot that you have to see past - a lot of people will just get annoyed with it - but if you do, you'll be rewarded!
Posted 12:47 on 20 November 2010
clangod's Avatar


It'll be present on my list too now after reading that review. I loved Twin Peaks and hope I can forgive Deadly Premonition any and all shortcomings it may have.

It looks like it'll be a while before I pick it up though. The list is rather long...
Posted 20:48 on 19 November 2010


I've started it, got to the beginning of Chapter 1 and have just been busy playing other things. But I will get into it, at some point

@Neon, how does this compare to other gane stories that you have played?
Posted 16:27 on 19 November 2010
SexyJams's Avatar


maybe I do need this game after all...
I loved hearing you talk about it on the Back On Topic podcast;
I'll add it to the list :)
Posted 15:48 on 19 November 2010
CheekyLee's Avatar

CheekyLee@ TomO

LOL, Tom! Seriously, don't go thinking I was criticising you, because your pragmatic approach is absolutely perfect for some games. I expect, in fact demand, that you are the man to Get Gran Turismo 5. It is the kind of game that is more suited for your particular style. But this one just felt like it was destined for Neon!

Incidentally, I picked this up whilst I was out this afternoon, solely on the strength of this particular reccomendation. (£17.97 at ASDA.)
Posted 14:21 on 19 November 2010
TomO's Avatar


I'd have given this 3/10.
Posted 12:54 on 19 November 2010

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Deadly Premonition
Out of 10
Deadly Premonition
  • Bewitchingly weird.
  • Funny, disturbing and completely original.
  • Several mechanics are dated or outright flawed.
  • Some people will hate it.
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 29/10/2010
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PS3 , PC
Developer: Access Games
Publisher: Rising Star Games
Genre: Adventure
Rating: BBFC 15
Site Rank: 901 17
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