fourwude's Deadly Premonition (Xbox 360) review

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The theatre of the absurd.

With the advent of the European release on the horizon, I feel it's worth creating a review, albeit a more esoteric one, if only to answer the naysayers and doubters who criticise the game. Whilst their gripes are on the whole  true, in so far, as the graphics are abysmal, the gameplay clunky, the music out of place, the shooting awful and some dialogue which makes the backward talking dwarf from Twin Peaks, seem positively coherent in comparison, but alas none of that matters. It doesn't matter one iota. In the end the sum, is truly greater than the parts. It is not the parts but the inherent relationship they form, the incidental details which propel Deadly Premonition into a stratosphere of atmosphere and story telling often unparalleled in the gaming world. This is Silent Hill's off-beat, absurd, jazzier brother and scary only in so far as you really have no clue what is going on. It is the closest videogames have come to the existential 'theatre of the absurd'. 

If the individual parts of the game offer so little enjoyment, then one may ask why play it at all. And the only answer is to experience it. If familiarity breeds contempt in life, then this is the diametric opposite. It's not that Deadly Premonition breaks the rules or conventions in videogames, it's the fact that it makes them obsolete. They cease to matter. It doesn't matter that driving a car is painful because in the context of the game world it somehow relates perfectly. It makes perfect sense. It doesn't matter that the dialogue is at times obtuse and cringe worthy, because once again it somehow succeeds to weave that into its own dysfunctional universe where absurdity reigns supreme. One cannot even compare the dialogue to intentionally bad script as found in 'Garth Marenghi's Darkplace' because clearly the dialogue here was all unintentional. It's unintentionally bad, at times just plain wrong to listen to and yet every sentence seems to correlate beautifully with the events happening around you. It is this core synergy of dysfunctionality where Deadly Premonition shines through the most.

If you're looking to 'beat' the game, then this isn't the game to beat. In fact for such an existentially absurd game, the point of 'beating' becomes moot. There is a beginning, a middle and an end. There are chapters to the game, a linear progression of a storyline laced in murder-mystery territory, of guns, of bullets, of enemies, of collectables and death. But to derive a meaning from the game from these components is to miss the incidental details, it's to derive a false image of what the game is. Sometimes in life the bigger picture never really reveals the true picture.

What is Deadly Premonition then? It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. The only question that needs asking from a buyers point of view is if you're prepared to spend the time unlocking it.
Posted by MooseyMcMan

Good review. 

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