SWERY’s Bizarre Adventure
Coming home after a long time away always feels unusual. Nothing is truly as you remember it, your memory having exaggerated or plain made up details you’ve accepted as fact. Luckily for Deadly Premonition: Origins the town of Greenvale is so odd that the human brain was never designed to fully understand it anyway.
Originally released in 2010 after years of troubled development Deadly Premonition was a true oddity. In a market enamoured with military based cover shooters starring buzz-cut army boys this blend of Twin Peaks and Shemnue seemed doomed to eternal obscurity. Luckily the game’s charms began to gain a form of positive notoriety, pushing it’s popularity enough to have been ported to several systems since. The announcement of a sequel was an unexpected delight, cracking the hardened facade of even the most cynical of gaming journalists.
So what is the game? A quirky FBI agent is investigating the brutal murder of a small town’s beauty queen. He encounters paranormal undead enemies as he collects evidence all over the huge town whilst learning more about the bizarre locals and their lives. These are split between open world exploring where characters follow Majora’s Mask style daily routines and linear shooting sections in an otherworldly crimson alternate universe.
Ire Walk with Me
These segments are easily the weakest part. Despite initially seeming like a Resident Evil 4 homage the wonky aiming and unresponsive bullet sponge enemies quickly grow monotonous. For this reason exploring the town and engaging with the bonkers and brilliant side-quests is essential. From these you unlock stronger weapons to help you breeze past these sections. The flame-thrower is particularly effective, an essential piece of FBI equipment. Investigations also involve finding bits of evidence with which York will automatically start to put the murder scene together. The lack of actual player investigation is disappointing but it seems unlikely a player would ever figure out how the bizarre clues fit together.
Once Agent York enters his car you can be there quite a while. Once you finally figure out how navigation works the different locations are annoyingly realistically spaced out. Luckily York’s conversations with his imaginary partner Zack are wonderfully entertaining and a great resource for film recommendations. Indeed the writing is the title’s strongest virtue. Characters are full of such vibrant and distinct quirks, everyone who plays will have their own favourite. The demented tonal mood swings are a real highlight. During a diner scene our hero casually and charmingly discusses a cannibal who pisses into human skulls. The cheerful peppy music is the cherry on top as his co-workers gag in disgust.
A Place Both Wonderful and Strange
That’s the true beauty of Deadly Premonition: Origins. Despite the irritations it builds such a compelling world that you’ll want to conquer the combat to experience more of its world. How can any player not want to know more about Harry Stewart? The masked wheelchair-bound millionaire who speaks only in rhyme via his manservant. His legendary “Sinner’s Sandwich” (turkey, jam and cereal) may sound horrific but is an apt analogy for the game itself. A radical combination of elements that can be hard to swallow but is unexpectedly nourishing and occasionally sublime.
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