Saturday, November 10, 2012

Week 7: Joining the Cult

     As explained last week, I've abandoned my Dishonored playthrough for the time being. Instead, I decided to give Deadly Premonition a whirl.

If you are unfamiliar with the game, I suggest you either pick it up and play it or hit YouTube for some laughs.

Deadly Premonition is, for lack of a better term, a cult classic. Wikipedia, yes Wikipedia, classifies it as a "psychological horror open world cult video game" which is about as close to the truth as you can get without delving into the myriad of details that make this game so unique.

From any number of standpoints, this game is utterly terrible. The controls are clumsy, the graphics are awful considering it is a 2010 title, the story is disjointed, and the sound direction is borderline absurd.

But there's still something about it.

Maybe it is best compared to a trainwreck, something you can't help but experience knowing full-well it isn't going to be pretty. That may be an overstatement...

There is a certain charm to the numerous follies the game seems to embrace. The squirrels being scared away by York's car that make chimpanzee screeches as they flee, the music that rarely matches the mood (and is almost always the same three tracks), the ability to start discussions with what I have only played far enough to describe as an imaginary friend, about 80s movies while in the car alone.

The minute details of player activated headlights, windshield wipers and turn signals, sending clothes to be cleaned from your hotel room, smoking to pass time, SHAVING...

It's like Grand Theft Resident Evil: Life Simulator.

What few characters I've met so far are annoyingly charming. The sheriff is an a--hole with the fakest looking mustache in the history of video game mustaches, his deputy comes off as a halfhearted wet blanket, the station assistant is neurotic and creepily knowledgeable on squirrels, and York...

York is unique.

Aside from his conversations with Zach, the unseen individual presumably of York's own devising, York is sort of insane. He takes his job seriously, but in the creepiest, most lighthearted way possible, he is capable of ignoring almost all social comport in regards to an ongoing investigation to compliment a biscuit, and he sees things in his coffee.

And for the love of god, call him 'York'... Everyone else does....

The eerie charm makes it easier to overlook the overall crapfest the game embodies.

The controls are, at best, a poor bastardization of RE4, the story doesn't resonate in any way, and the living world is frustrating.

Cars drive a whopping 50 mph (a little faster if you hit X to turn on the siren), which makes the needlessly lengthy trips between objectives doubly frustrating. Cars can actually run out of gas. York actively requires sleep and sustenance.

On-screen cues to talk to the sheriff George and deputy Emily while they are in the car that offer only scraps of useful information, but only happen once per car ride because any attempt to talk to them again is met with orders to focus on driving, which as I have already mentioned takes FOREVER!!

The actual missions themselves are fairly routine. You go to a place, wade through 'mysterious shadows', find things to aid your investigation, which earn you bits and pieces of a frame-by-frame show of what transpired in the profiling segments that ultimately do nothing for the story in any way shape or form, nor do they provide any insight into the so-called Raincoat Killer.

The late last-gen, early current gen graphics can be distracting, from the stiff character animations and the creepy smiles to the bland environments and terrible cutscenes.

Combat can be frustrating because of the nature of the enemies. It seems cheap to hang back and take pot shots at the heads of the shadows, which sometimes means forcing yourself to pick up a steel pipe to wail on them.

In spite of the numerous complaints I can list about the game, I'm enjoying it so much more than Dishonored.

Sure, it lacks any sort of fine-tuning, if any tuning at all, but the decision to depart from an existing formula is commendable, if misguided.

I'm still very early in the game, still in the first chapter, but I don't expect much of anything to make any sense by the end of it all. Still, I expect to find new ways to enjoy the game for all of its flaws.

.... Or I'll just quit and start playing something that is much easier to make it through...

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