Deadly Premonitions Origins review for Nintendo Switch03/10/2019
Hidetaka “SWERY” Suehiro started working on Deadly Premonition in 2008, after the original idea, Rainy Woods, scheduled for a PS2/Xbox release, was canceled due to technological difficulties. While Deadly Premonition faced cancellation on multiple occasions, it finally saw a release on Xbox 360 across the world throughout 2010; only Japan also got a PS3 version alongside the 360 version. In 2013, a Director’s cut saw release on PS3 across various regions. The director’s cut features a bevy of improvements such as updated controls, Move compatibility and an additional scenario written by SWERY. This brings us to 2019 where Deadly Premonition Origins makes its debut on a Nintendo console thanks to Numskull Games handling publishing duties in Europe and Australia.
Deadly Premonition Origins tells the story of Francis York Morgan as he heads to Greenvale in order to investigate the murder of an 18-year girl by the name of Anna Graham. York was chosen for this investigation because of the way the young woman was killed: a ritualistic murder where red seeds have been found on the scene of the crime. York will have some local help in the form of the town’s sheriff George Woodman and deputy sheriff Emily Wyatt. During the investigation, Francis is often pursued by the Raincoat Killer who only kills during rainy periods. The game and its atmosphere are heavily inspired by the Twin Peaks tv show.
Deadly Premonition Origins is a third person, semi open-world, a game where players, as Agent York, roam around the city of Greenvale. Agent York is called upon to interact with the residents of Greenvale in order to solve the mysterious murder.
The game’s combat mixes melee and firearms. When first starting the investigation, York has a knife and handgun at this disposal, but as players progress through the game, they can find additional weapons such as steel pipe, shotgun, machine guns and so on. Melee weapons will break after using them for a certain period of time. When selecting a melee weapon, there’s a nifty health meter for it so you can evaluate the item’s durability. Shooting feels a bit cumbersome as, while it leaves players the freedom to aim, there’s also an option to auto-lock on enemies. First, you need to press L to get ready to shoot, then pressing ZR will auto-lock the target and then pressing R will shoot. While I can certainly appreciate the auto-lock feature, especially when an enemy is running at you, it should’ve been a mechanic selectable in the options or automatically done when aiming. If you find yourself in a bind, surrounded by enemies, you can always avoid them by holding your breath; you have to manage this carefully as it will increase your heart rate. Enemies will notice the presence of York due to his breathing, so holding your breath will allow York to stealthily get around enemies; quite useful if you feel like the odds are against you. And considering you can’t move while aiming/shooting, sometimes going around enemies might be the way to go.
Open world means you can drive around Greenvale to discover more about the area and interact with the townsfolk. Thankfully, you can drive around in a police car to get to your destination quicker. I use the term quicker loosely as it feels like you’re slowly chugging along. The driving mechanic also feels clunky and loose but does the job. It’s not undrivable, but it’s not the best driving mechanic.
When designing Deadly Premonition, SWERY had in mind a goal to make the game feel as real as possible in the sense that Agent York will need sleep to stay alert during investigations and food/coffee to stay healthy. Your vehicle will also need gas, so it’s important before driving across the map, make sure you have a full tank otherwise you have a nasty surprise. Furthermore, in this whole realness mentality, there’s an in-game clock meaning if the hospital is only available between 10:00 AM and 9:00 PM, you need to reach it between those times, otherwise, you will delay the investigation. While this is a nice touch, you also need to time your out of investigation activities accordingly which can cause a headache due to the lack of clear direction. It requires exploration, but again you’re restrained by the time which can make it tricky.
My main gripe with the game is the QTEs: Quick Time Events. While some are well placed, I do feel like QTEs could be avoided altogether. The well-placed one adds a layer of stress and emergency to the game as failing it results in death. My primary concern is considering some QTEs require players to jiggle left and right on the left joystick in order to run from the Raincoat Killer, it could possibly shorten the lives of (or damage) the Joycons considering the bevy of issues players have faced since March 2017.
Considering the game first came to life on Xbox 360, while an impressive console gen at the time, the game shows its age visually. However, it’s part of the game’s charm. It’s quirky presentation sometimes borderline B-movie dialog makes for an enjoyable time considering the game’s dark premise. Characters’ movement can appear a bit blocky and lip-synching is far from being synched and can be a deterrent for possible new players (spoiled by more recent outings). On the audio sound of things, Deadly Premonition Origins’ soundtrack is perfectly quirky and fits the game down to a T; despite sometimes having an abnormal upbeat track during some more tense conversations. Whether it is during more intense sequences or during lighter events, the score will set the perfect mood for the setting. While not groundbreaking, some track will stay with you and it’s another aspect of the game that will charm players.
Deadly Premonition is a gem. Despite its faults such as outdated shooting, quirky animations, and rough driving mechanics, it remains an amazing experience that every gamer should give a chance to. Over the few years, the game has amassed a cult following and releasing it on Switch will allow the game to reach a brand new audience and I highly recommend you to play this game. Sure it’s rough around the edges, but there’s a true diamond of a game shining in there. And while the game is only available digitally on the Nintendo eShop, Numskull Games is currently working on a special edition for EU and AU players.
*This Review Code was so generously provided by the publisher for review*
Developer: TOYBOX Publisher: TOYBOX
Release date: September 4, 2019
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows
Platform Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch