Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut

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Deadly Premonition was a survival horror game released in 2010 that some people called a masterpiece and others called an embarrassment to gaming. In my life as a gamer, I have never seen anything polarise critics so extremely. If you want to see whether I loved it or hated it, read my review of the original game, although the fact that I’m now reviewing the Director’s Cut should be a clue.

We’ve moved on from the dim and distant 2010 and in the slightly less dim and not so distant 2013, Rising Star Games decided to take their Xbox exclusive title and grace PlayStation consoles around the world with its presence. Just to make my opinion clear: in my opinion, Deadly Premonition is one of the greatest games ever to be made and not playing it should be considered alongside self-flagellation. However, contradicting what I just gushed, it was incredibly flawed. It was often annoying and buggy, and some aspects of the game, such as the driving, could lull the player into a lovely little sleep. So, does the Director’s Cut fix the original games’ issues?

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In short, no. Everything I loved about the game is still present and charming as ever. The peerless charismatic characters, particularly the much-loved protagonist York, is still intact and as endearing as ever. The storyline is still mind-blowing and unpredictable and the grotesque events on-screen still managed to scare me stiff. However, everything I disliked about the game is still obnoxiously present. The driving still feels like you’re being towed by an asthmatic Ox and there’s no less of it to do. Greenvale is still vast but rather empty and dotted with gimmicky mini-games that are pointless and about as fun as buying a new vest to replace the old one you got coffee-stains on, and the quick-time events are still as offensive as ever and reduce most meetings with the big baddie to pressing square in an unforgiving time limit. The quick-time events are at their most churlish during the final, three-stage boss fight, in which the player has to rub the left analogue stick until either the stick bores a hole through the centre of his/her hand or the consequent sparks start a fire.

One thing has been added to is the storyline. The game begins not with York discussing Tom & Jerry with an unknown associate, but with an old-man sat in a dingy room lit only by a dull television. He begins to relay the story of the Red Seeds Murders to a young girl apparently named ‘Emily’, who grabs her teddy tight in anticipation of probably the most inappropriate bed-time story ever told. These little scenes with the old man and the girl really add to the original narrative, because as the story progresses, more becomes clear about the aged grandfather. These sections really hit a high-point during the credits which almost had me in tears, but I won’t spoil that. More importantly, they also cheekily set up the sequel! That’s right, there’s more psychological, gruesome tom-foolery on the way soon. A second Deadly Premonition is something I did not expect. I’m open to the idea of another game being as amazing as the original, but I’ll retain my familiar and comfortable cynical stance for now. The first game was brilliant without needing continuation.  It was a piece of art that stood alone. Rising Star Games better be aware that if the sequel is a shoddy, tacked on travesty, I’m going to burn their houses down.

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To be honest, as much as I love this game, the Director’s Cut is a little bit deceiving. On the back of the box it says ‘Updated Controls’, and I never noticed any difference, which makes me highly doubt that a massive overhaul of the original Deadly Premonition’s sometimes antiquated control system had been undertaken. I imagine the ‘Updated Controls’ boast applies to the fact that the controls have been updated from the Xbox 360 controller to the PS3 controller. It’s not exactly a lie, but it is certainly misleading. Or it could be a reference to the fact that the game has been enhanced by the addition of PlayStation Move features, but the less said about motion controls, the better. They have changed the mini-map so that it can be made larger whilst driving, but that didn’t stop me getting constantly lost.

Another deception leaking off the back of the box is the phrase ‘Enhanced Graphics’. The added scenes I alluded to earlier in which a heartbreakingly disorientated old man tells a horrific story to his granddaughter have superior graphics to the original. The original’s graphics wouldn’t have stood out amongst later PS2 games. Still, the new scenes aren’t yet up to the standard of your everyday console release, but seriously, who really cares about graphics? Not this lazy gamer. However, although the added scenes are enhanced, the rest of the game looks exactly as the original did! So prepare yourself for the same substandard graphics and repeating environments. I wouldn’t complain normally, because as I’ve just said, graphics aren’t that important and the game is still simultaneously beautiful and disgusting in its imagery and dream-like surroundings, but if you’re going to put ‘Enhanced Graphics’ on the back of the box, expect harsh criticism when you don’t deliver. Again, it isn’t exactly a lie, but Rising Star Games are hardly endearing themselves to us at this point.

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The game isn’t quite as glitch-happy as the original, but a few new bugs are thrown in for good measure, such as the repeating bug I encountered when entering a room in the police station which resulted in Yorkie falling through black space before failing his investigation. They are sometimes annoying, but ultimately the glitches aren’t intolerable enough to even begin to ruin the game. Despite the negativity I’ve brewed up, I still love Deadly Premonition and York and Zach with all my heart. I only criticise because I care so much. If you didn’t experienced this fantastic game the first time round because you didn’t own an Xbox 360 or because beyond playing new Call of Duty maps, the only original thing you encounter during your day-to-day life is the light you close your curtains to avoid, then here’s your chance to play it for yourself. However, if you’re a fan like me, and you stare intently into your coffee in the mornings with crossed fingers, then there’s no need to rush out and buy the Director’s Cut if you’ve still got your original game disc. I suppose my entire review of Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut can be summed up in one pithy sentence:  there’s still a moving, powerful and important piece of art to be experienced here, warts and all.

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About Joseph Butler-Hartley
A jaded horror enthusiast, I get my kicks hiding in cupboards from whatever hideous creatures happen to be around. However, I'm more than happy playing a wide range of genres on both consoles and PC. Apart from writing for Z1G, I'm also a History student.