Deadly Premonition. It’s my new favorite game.
Destructoid gave it 10/10. To summarize that review: this is the first game to completely nail the “so bad it’s accidentally awesome” quality that has made certain shitty horror movies (Like Troll 2, or anything seen on MST3k) famous.
That review had me pretty interested, but it wasn’t until I watched this cutscene from early in the game that I was totally sold. When I heard the kazoos kick in on the too-loud background music, and heard the old lady declare that one of the neighborhood bars was named “Galaxy of Terror” while the protagonist apparently put his half-smoked cigarette back in the pack while it was still lit… I went to Amazon and one-clicked.
Some conversation about the game is in the chatlog below. All of it is true.
This game wants to be Twin Peaks so, so badly*, and I mean that literally, not just as a way of saying it’s quite similar to Twin Peaks. I honestly believe the developers’ design goal was “As much like Twin Peaks as possible without getting sued”. The FBI agent main character is very serious about his coffee, and comments on the nice Douglas Firs in this small country town (except he’s Agent York Morgan instead of Agent Dale Cooper, and instead of talking to his secretary Diane via a microcassette recorder, he talks to his split personality Zach via excited muttering). The police station has a bumbling Deputy Andy (except his name is Thomas), a lot of the background music sounds like Angelo Badalamenti (except not as good), the murder victim is a blond girl (who works at a diner instead of going to high school) and Agent York finds a small mysterious object in the corpse’s throat (instead of under her fingernail) which connects her to his previous cases. Oh and he has mysterious dreams (except it’s red leaves instead of red curtains).
And as you can see in that cutscene video, they ratcheted up the quirky. Hoo-boy, did they. The old “much too long dining-room table” gag, what a riot! But the lameness of that and similar jokes serves to highlight the stuff that’s insane not on purpose, like “F K… in the coffee!”, or the fact that the vending machine runs a %7100 profit margin and accepts pennies, or the fact that one of the Sheriff’s dumbbells is named [Arnold], or the fact that a grisly murder-mystery/survival horror game is sandboxed, complete with sidequests, collectible trading cards to find, street races, and a fishing minigame.
Or the fact that Agent York’s beard grows in real-time, if you neglect to shave.
Your primary reaction when playing this game will be: “Wait, what? What?”
And as the game itself goes — you know, mechanically — it’s reasonably solid. From the hilariously poor graphics, acting, writing, music, sound effects, and everything else, you’d reasonably expect that the game is brokenly unplayable. But it isn’t, it’s totally fine. Nothing to write home about, but creeping down the bloody vine-encrusted hallway shooting ghosts when you really just want to know what insane thing the plot’s going to throw at you next — it’s not painful at all.
So, you know, if you like Twin Peaks and you like Silent Hill and you like hilariously shitty horror movies… this is absolutely the game for you.*Except when it wants to be Silent Hill.