17/10/2019

๐Ÿ•ต️‍♀️ Deadly Premonition: Origins | REVIEW | Nintendo Switch "an unholy union of survival horror and a detective game" ๐Ÿ•ต️‍♀️ @NumskullGames #IndieGame #GameDev

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There's a line in Ghostbusters where Ray says that the blueprints for Dana's apartment building were drawn by "either a certified genius or an authentic wacko", and that sums up exactly how I feel about this game.

Deadly Premonition: Origins is, at its core, an unholy union of survival horror and a detective game. You play FBI Agent Francis York Morgan (everybody calls him York, apparently), who's been called in to solve the grisly murder of a local girl.

The intro to the game shows you the discovery of the body; a local farmer and his two grandsons come across the victim tied to a tree, disembowelled. You meet York as he's driving towards Greenvale, the town in question, speeding, in the middle of a rainstorm, while chain-smoking, looking through the file while at the same time holding a conversation with Zach who doesn't appear to exist. 

Unsurprisingly York manages to run off the road, and you're immediately plunged into a sub-Silent Hill action sequence, consisting of you shooting zombies who shuffle backwards towards you while moaning in (fairly disconcerting) pitched-down voices.

These sequences, dotted through the game as they are, give you more than a slight clue that this game was originally a PS2 release. Think back to the original Resident Evil games and what a ball-ache combat actually was - no shooting while moving, turning on the spot and all that stuff. It's not quite as bad as that, but it's pretty bloody terrible, to be honest.
Outside of that, you have to actually be a detective - drive around town, talking to witnesses and suspects, looking for clues, working with the local police etc. In fact, let's talk about the driving. It's crap. 

The car handles like it has four flat tyres, and the wheels have been put on sideways. Keeping yourself on the road is actually harder than the shooting bits. Which have QTEs, did I mention? And if you fail the QTEs it's game over? Yep, there's that too. 

Now I come to write the review it occurs to me that every game mechanic is rubbish.

And if this was all there was to it then I'd have done a lot more swearing in writing this review. But it's not. The writing in this game is utterly, utterly mental. I mentioned earlier about York's conversations with Zach. 

During the opening sequence, York is talking to Zach, about a violent co-dependent relationship which eventually turns out to be about Tom and Jerry. Later, while you're driving between locations in town, York goes on rambling extended monologues about action films, buying his first VCR, going to the cinema. And brilliantly, it doesn't matter whether you've got passengers - he just cracks on anyway. 

You have to imagine that anyone in the car with him is afraid to say anything in case this nutjob snaps and runs the car off the road, and not just because the driving controls are so bad.
The cast of characters is another thing. York is an amazing hero. His delivery of the frankly batshit script is so odd and affected that the voice actor should win some sort of award. Whether he's talking about Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, coffee (which he's really, really into) or the actual murder he's there to solve, it's a genuine joy to hear the weirdness coming out of his mouth. 

And it's not just him. One of your early interactions is with the half-deaf hotel owner, Polly, who insists on sitting at the other end of the thirty-foot dining table so York has to shout while she talks about being out of pepper, and also her dead husband. And shortly after you meet the reclusive billionaire, who is a wheelchair user, who wears a gas mask, because of course, he does, who speaks exclusively through an assistant - in rhyme.

I mean, not all the characters are great. You have the standard gruff local sheriff, the nice deputy (who is the subject of a romantic subplot with York), the Daisy Duke-esque petrol station attendant, the convenience store owner, all of whom you've seen before, but it all gives colour to the town. 

Incidentally, this all takes place in real-time, i.e. you can only go to the petrol station when it's open, you have certain times to interview witnesses etc, which gives the game an extra dimension, particularly when you realise you can just skive off and go fishing, or just drive around looking for people to talk to.
You might have noticed a tonal thing about the game - eccentric FBI agent, coffee, weirdness - and yes, this game owes more than a nod to Twin Peaks. I looked for interviews with the creator from when the original game came out, and apparently, he was very evasive when asked about the obvious, ahem, inspiration.

So let's talk about the game as an actual, you know, game. The graphics are, to be frank, bad. I've never been one to worry about frame rates and stuff, but this game originally came out in the PS2 era, and it shows. 

I've already talked about the controls, so please don't make me go through that again. The music is actually very good, except for the fact that it feels like there are about five tracks, one of which is very jolly, with jaunty yet extremely loud whistling that seems to play about once every five minutes - ask my wife.

But as an experience, you have to either play this game or watch a Let's Play on YouTube - I sincerely believe that your life will be enriched by the weirdness on show. And if you do choose to spend money on it, don't say I didn't warn you.

Rating: I have absolutely no idea. It's a bloody terrible game, but I can't give it a bad score as there's so much to get out of it. So let's go with Melting.
๐Ÿ’ง❄️ RATING: MELTING ❄️๐Ÿ’ง

Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

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