By scottygrayskull 12 Comments
Deadly Premonition has been out for awhile - nearly a year now - but it seems everyday someone new is discovering it. Or getting back into it after being pulled away by something else. I think this is great, as it was one of my favourite games of 2010 and one of the more memorable (notice I said memorable, not good) games of all time. This isn't to say the game isn't without problems of course, as many people have pointed out. My biggest problem with the game is that it does a poor job of explaining things that the player really should know, that make the game a lot easier and fun. Things that could easily cause someone to throw in the towel on this budget release.
So I thought I'd do a writeup for anybody in the process of playing or about to play this... weird and special game. This is mostly inspired by a friend who just loaned the game to, but of course it can apply to anybody. So enjoy! :)
Probably the biggest and most immediate misunderstanding people will have with Deadly Premonition is the time limits the game seems to impose on the player. There is always at least one time visible when travelling around, and most people will make the mistake of thinking that's a proper deadline. Thing is, while it is a time limit there's no consequence of missing it. The town of Greenvale is more than just filler between missions, it's a fully realized open-world city complete with a day/night cycle, changing weather that affects the environment, and citizens who have routines that change as the game progresses. So while you might have to meet someone by 17:00, the only real consequence to missing that appointment is having to wait until the next day. Likewise, when you're driving with someone (like George or Emily) and decide to get out of the car, you can meet up with them later or just wait until the next day to restart the mission.
What does this mean to the player? Well, it means they can take their time, and explore the world as much as they'd like! There's a lot to learn about many inhabitants of this little town, as evidenced here (only watch until 6:45, otherwise risk spoilers).
This of course leads into the sidequests. There are 50 sidequests that you can do throughout the game, giving rewards that range from nothing, to simple collectables, to items that make the game a lot less frustrating/tedious to play. This is of course in addition to revealing more about the characters involved, such as Emily's terrible cooking or actually learning about a particular character before they're killed off. You can only do each one during certain chapters in the game though, which can be determined under the sidequests section in the pause menu. A nice feature of the game is that when loading a save, you can choose to replay any chapter you've already done with all progress carrying over when you resume the game. The only downside is that if you're in the middle of a chapter, you'll lose all progress in it if you switch to another one and will have to start it over.
*** Something to be careful of: It's come to my attention that you can possibly lose story items and break your save if you're not careful. I'd recommend not doing this when in the middle of an important part of the story ***
With all this exploring, you'll be affected by a few game mechanics that you could completely miss out on if you just play the main story straight through. The first one is the need for food and sleep. Simple enough really, if you don't get enough sleep your hunger will drop more quickly, and if you don't eat enough you'll start to lose health. Just make sure to take advantage of beds and always have lots of food in your inventory. Secondly is the gas/damage level on your cars. Take a look at your map, if you have a long distance to drive make sure to either fill up at the gas station or pick a car with a full tank. Running out of gas is really annoying, and it's easy to forget to take rescue flares with you.
Whether or not you indulge in the extras, you're going to have to shoot up some crazy monsters at one point or another. This is probably where most people give up on the game. A few things to remember are that combat is slow and your character moves like a tank, so you'll need to make sure to keep enemies in as close to a line in front of you as possible. When you're comfortable with how spacing works you'll find you can often run past enemies, which is incredibly useful when you find you need to run to the other side of the room to put space between yourself and some vicious zombies.
Furthermore, while auto-aim is useful for getting an initial bead on an enemy, it rarely targets the weak spot of an enemy (the head in most cases), so don't rely on it too much. There are also some quick time events that will almost certainly catch you off guard resulting in a quick and frustrating death. My only advice for these is to be ready for them at all times, and if you fail remember that the button prompts are always the same (or one or only a couple possible combinations) every time.
Lastly are a few things to save you some time. It probably won't take long before you're fed up with the painful amount of time it takes to go through doors or get into and out of cars. For doors, just run up to the door and hold the run button down as you're opening it to go through much more quickly. For cars, I can't remember which button but a simple button press will skip that cutscene. It just isn't the one you think.
And that's about it! There's more I could say about the combat, but these are all things you'll figure out. Hopefully by following these guidelines your journeys in Greenvale will be as memorable as mine was.