Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
Are you willing to gamble £1.99 on a game you might very well loathe? If so, head on over to Steam and buy Deadly Premonition in the sale. It is wonky, it is ugly, it is weird, it is slow, its port is awful, and it is charming, it is exciting, it is weird, it is funny, and it is one of my favourite games.
I've heard folks say Deadly Premonition is "like if David Lynch made a video game", which is of course nonsense. It's an open-world survival horror about, and this may sound familiar, an oddball FBI agent come to a small Pacific Northwest town filled with kooky characters to investigate the spooky murder of a young woman. But Deadly Premonition only warms up once it goes off to do its own thing. With awkward animation, an often-inappropriate soap opera soundtrack, a few fine characters, and bags of ideas, it finds its own identity.
Since these posts are meant to be short, here's a quick list of some things I have done:
- Been fined a 'Stinky Agent' penalty by the FBI for not changing my suit often enough;
- Chatted with my imaginary friend about Kevin Bacon;
- Received a bonus from the FBI for shaving;
- Got a part-time job in a supermarket doing Sokoban puzzles in the storeroom;
- Heard spooky ghost stories from an old rocker in that shop;
- Stolen that rocker's guitar;
- Clobbered wall-crawling monsters with that guitar;
- Eaten the Sinner's Sandwich, a horror with turkey, jam, and breakfast cereal;
- Feasted on a gravedigger's green tomatoes;
- Chatted with my imaginary friend about punk rock (we never did like the Sex Pistols);
- Stolen cigarettes from a dog's kennel;
- Chatted with my imaginary friend about John Williams movie soundtracks;
- Felt clever spotting a pattern in the murders then crushed realising who was next;
- Read my fortune in cups of coffee;
- Felt surprised and delighted and not at all tricked by a big plot twist (disappointingly rare, y'all).
A bewildering amount of things are crammed into Deadly Premonition, good and bad, in a weird but endearing display of ambition. I must say its combat is awful and best rushed through as soon as you find a decent weapon (say, that guitar), and good grief its driving is dire! But it's all so earnest and warm and funny. Past the awful opening, I was just happy being in Greenvale, which makes its all the more dreadful as things fall apart over the investigation.
The PC port's a horror, mind: use Durante's DPfix and cross your fingers. But for £1.99? Do it.