Deadly Premonition Director’s Cut: Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover

By Laura . November 9, 2013 . 5:00pm

Deadly Premonition is a game that betrayed my expectations in many ways. I remember seeing it on the racks of the game store quite a while ago. The gruesome woman screaming on the front cover was quite difficult to forget. I had thought it was either a zombie game or perhaps a survival-horror game. After all these years, I finally managed to play the Director’s Cut, and I was surprised to find out that the cover had given me entirely the wrong first impression. Sure, there are zombie-like monsters in the game, but this is hardly the focus.


Through the game, you control Francis York Morgan, a quirky, socially awkward yet charming FBI agent working to track down an elusive serial killer that has been taking lives across the US. York’s search has taken him to the quaint, remote town of Greenvale, where the life of a teenage girl was recently claimed, since he suspects it’s the murderer’s newest victim. However, the situation immediately goes awry as, after a violent car crash that wasn’t entirely his fault, he has to trek his way to Greenvale on foot, and wouldn’t you know it, the way is filled with monsters.


Already, there are hints of strangeness. Who is this Zach that York keeps talking to? Are you Zach? The game seems to imply from the very beginning that you are not, in fact, playing York but instead playing an alternate personality who takes over during times of action. This is an interesting storytelling mechanic since it allows you to act as the character while still pretending the character is yourself despite his lines of dialogue.


There is also a bizarre Red Room that seems inhabited by two “angels” with the faces of twin boys you’ll meet later (and indeed are the discoverers of the body in this murder), and, of course, the monsters that seem completely out of place in a seemingly normal – if unsettling – game.


The cadaver-like beings are  Shadows, which appear only in certain segments of the game. In fact, Deadly Premonition can almost be completely cut into two halves—the investigation portion and the shooter portion. I feel that much of what is wrong with the game occurs only in the latter part of the game—poor controls, repetitive gameplay, lack of difficulty, and little monster variety—and it was by no means something I looked forward to every time such a section popped up. I will admit that it provides a change of pace, but on the flip side it serves as a sometimes frustrating distraction to the meat of the game.


But that’s enough of that. What I really like about the game can already be seen in the first few moments of the game, which you can see in the video below.



My favorite aspect of the game are the “meaningless” details you come across, and the game is rife with them. This simple conversation already begins to establish York’s habits and personality in just a couple minutes, though it holds little importance to the grand story. You even have a glimpse of some of York’s habits and mannerisms, which serve to solidify him as a defined person in your mind.


Another example of the details in the game comes from the side characters and their side quests. As York investigates, he will come across many colorful characters that seem like they could be real, but are on just that side of “out there” strangeness. Each of them has their own personality and side stories, which you can learn about through the side quests should you choose. In addition, they have their own schedules through the day that shift depending on where in the story you are – if you should choose, you can stalk a person through the day to see where they go.


All of the side quests are completely optional, but the game rewards you handsomely for exploring on your own. There is never any indication that there are even side quests to worry about. An example of this is how, right after you wake up at the hotel on the first day, York was told he needed to head over to the police station to review the murder. However, already you can forgo this and start embarking on your own investigation. You can head over to the victim’s house and talk to the mother, or you can question other suspects in the town. All of these are done at your own volition and have no bearing on the murder, but after completing some of the longer quests, you’ll find yourself with weapons and items that will greatly help your time in Greenvale, such as a device that lets you travel from one location to another instantly.


Another example is the seemingly meaningless actions you can take. For example, as you drive, you can turn on the blinkers and wipers. Though these obviously don’t affect how you drive (in a video game!), they are provided. You can have York shave, or you can let him grow a beard as the days pass on. You can have him drink coffee when you wish. You are encouraged to change your suits regularly because they’ll grow dirty and ragged over time. If you don’t, you’ll earn yourself a cash penalty for letting yourself become a slob, but this doesn’t really affect the game since there is very little you need to spend money on. You can make up for it easily anyways. I suppose the flies you attract can be distracting, but it isn’t a necessary component of the game.


This also extends to optional dialogue and scenes. After each chapter, you can talk to people and learn about their thoughts of the events, or sometimes you’ll just learn a bit more about the person. You can hear York’s one-sided musings about 80’s movies to Zach as you’re driving, or you can have lunch with the police you’re working with on the investigation and hear their (often hilarious) conversations.


It is amazing how these seemingly pointless accessories to the game enrich your experience. Perhaps this is because how they’re passively presented to you. It is all up to you whether you want to take the opportunity to explore or not. To me, it really shows how much effort the creators put into the detail and, as a side effect it helps make the game seem more “real” despite the strangeness, giving Deadly Premonition its unique atmosphere. However, should you wish, there is no need to do any of this. This, I think, makes all of these factors feel less like “fillers” and more like “additional content”.


Thankfully, most of the faults of the game are also non-critical. While I have a high tolerance for graphics, even I have to admit that these models aren’t the prettiest, and sometimes they even act up and glitch out. I’ve seen York’s tie poke through his back and half his suit go missing until the next loading point. The weapons and item storage system is a bit outdated, and sometimes the map won’t upload properly.


There are only two problems I had with the game that threatened my gaming experience. The first is the town map. Now, Greenvale is a very big place, and these West Coast towns our location is based off of are rather sprawling. Unfortunately, the town map you are provided with doesn’t zoom out. In addition, it rotates in the direction you are facing, making finding anything on the map a hassle unless you familiarize with the geography fast. It is actually suggested that you find an external map. (You can also purchase this map on your iPad for the iBook app with the newly released Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut – The Official Visual Companion.)


And then, of course, there is the frame rate and loading rate. Luckily, this never bothered me during action scenes, so I was never in danger of dying. However, it really brings you out of the experience when dialogue stutters in the middle of a line. Fortunately, I heard that this was only a problem with the PS3 version and not one with the old Xbox 360 original and the newly ported PC release.


I suppose the reason most of these faults don’t bother me so much because they rarely affect the core of the game – the investigation. In fact, I came to view some of the faults like the strange smile York had as a charm of the game (and even somehow fit it into the personality of the character).


Even the long shooting sections don’t bother me as much as they could have because I was always looking forward to the investigation afterwards. Deadly Premonition has a clear focus and it knows what it wants to do, and I believe the reason I enjoyed the game as much as I did despite its faults is because it achieves and, indeed, overachieves this goal – learning about Greenvale, getting to know the inhabitants there, growing to care about them, and learning about York.


Food for Thought:


1. I absolutely love the voices for this game. Interestingly, the Japanese version also had English voices.


2. There are a couple differences between the Director’s Cut and the original Xbox release for Deadly Premonition, but they didn’t affect my difference any. There are some extra scenes (that I’m not a fan of), but other than that, it’s just a more intuitive control scheme and updated graphics that make Greenvale seem more colorful than before.


3. The PC version apparently comes with the PS3 version DLC, which includes new suits, cars, and York’s very own house.


4. You’ve probably heard of this by now, but Deadly Premonition is essentially a love letter to the cult hit TV show Twin Peaks. References abound and it’s very hard to not attribute most of the strangeness in the game to influence from the TV show.  The style of humor is also very similar.


5. Finally, there is one bug that I never encountered but is game-breaking. In certain chapters where you pick up a story key (chapters 5, 9, or 23), you can’t save and quit the game to replay previous chapter. Doing so will erase your story key and prevent you from continuing the game. As such, the only way around this is to just avoid replaying previous chapters during these chapters.


6. Am I the only one who feels bad about driving on the wrong lane of traffic in this game…?

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  • Strid

    For PC, this game is like the Dark Souls port. A great, great game that’s among one of the laziest, worst ports available, but still better than the console versions.

    • Shippoyasha

      Well, users did start patching the game already to great effect.

      • Strid

        You’re not buying the game from users though.

    • At least Dark Souls actually had controller support. I understand this still doesn’t work with a 360 Controller?

      • Strid

        Pretty much, but I do not buy a PC game expecting it to have controller support, the same as when I buy a console game I don’t expect it to support keyboard and mouse. Dark Souls is worse here, it didn’t support the basic, fundamental control scheme of the PC. As well, if it has guns and you aim, to hell with controllers.

  • Shippoyasha

    One of the most surprising games of this gen for me as far as total darkhorses go. The idea of an open world style crime thriller, quirky procedural and survival horror is quite ambitious and it was a joy to play to get to the next major plot twist.

    The combat, controls and animation may be super janky at spots, but it delivered huge on interesting characters, comedy, drama and it has some of the best ‘characters just chatting and bantering’ I have seen. There are so many subtle ways the story is told including body language and the way Francis York Morgan talks to himself whether internally or out loud.

    It was a total pleasure experiencing this game and I hope a sequel is possible especially after the way it was teased at the end. It is right up there with Nier, Lost Odyssey and Valkyria Chronicles for the best overlooked gems in gaming this gen for me.

  • Deadly Premonition is definitely one of my favorite games I’ve played in the past few years, there’s something incredibly comfy midst all the absurdity. Exploring the town and experiencing all of the weird stuff was so exciting and bizarre back when the game first came out. It makes me happy that people are still getting a chance to discover it for the first time.

    The Director’s Cut is one of the worst “enhanced” ports of all time, however. I’m glad the PC version seems to be alright, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt more unexpectedly ripped off than I did with the PS3 Director’s Cut port. The framerate issues, almost no noticeable control improvements, pointlessly reworked textures, overabundance of DLC, tons of promises like a camera item that never ended up in the game, and worst of all the new cutscenes that add almost nothing to the story. What a mess to a game that deserves way better.

    • I’ve never been more happy than to be given the chance to play this game because of Siliconera :) It would’ve just sailed under my radar otherwise.

    • InfectedAI

      Really? I’ve heard plenty of complaints about the PC version being a bad port. Including not having even the most basic of options in the settings. Can you even change the resolution?

    • Aoshi00

      But for 1st time player, would it be better to get the director’s cut on PS3 (more colorful, w/ improved control and combat which sounds like a huge plus) or the 360 original w/ better frame rate?

      I actually picked up a 360 copy for about $15 new long ago, but didn’t play it and sold it on ebay :(, thought the game wouldn’t be for me due to the scary cover.. now it seems impossible to get the 360 disc ver.. except from Games on Demand for $20.. if I could get the PS3 ver for ~$20 on sale, would you say that’s the definitive or at least better ver w/ all things considered, again for a first time player.

      • TrueDefault

        PS3 version:
        -Pros: better control, graphic (shading and stuffs), gameplay is easier -the shooting is very tedious (only 2-3 enemies types, very repetitive) and only included because the director heard shootey-shootey makes the game sells more in the West, so he had to include it, the story is the main reason to play the game-, DLC cars and stuffs
        -Cons: Framerate issues

        -Pros: Cheaper, better framerate
        -Cons: see Ps3 version for comparison.

        Personally I would pick Ps3 version despite the jarring framerate.

        • Aoshi00

          Thanks for the breakdown.. PS3 definitely sounds better if it made the fights less clunky, so easier to get thru the game/story. I would prefer disc to digital and it’s expensive to get 360 disc new now (I try not to buy used if possible).. and PS3 ver is $24 on PlayAsia now :) I know it’s nitpicking, but I really didn’t like the scary 360 cover :(..

          • Testsubject909

            Don’t worry, that’s fine.

            The 360 cover completely fails to encapsulate what Deadly Premonition is all about anyways.

          • TrueDefault

            Me too. Physical all the way, haha! I got it while Play-asia had it on sale for 20 bucks.

            It’s not scary after you get used to the enemies. I didn’t buy it at first because I thought it was gonna be a horror game (I’m chicken, quark quark, big news). It’s more of an open-world mystery/thriller game.

          • Testsubject909

            The only thing you don’t want to see happening is one of those zombies catching you.

            Which is difficult for them to do because you have INFINITE BULLETS.

            Y’know… Long range defensive projectiles and shit.

            You can also find a submachine gun with INFINITE BULLETS and a shotgun with INFINITE BULLETS by just doing a simple quest or two as well.

          • Koji Kabuto

            You can also find a Magnum and a Rocket Launcher with infinite ammo but beware with the last one as you can kill yourself if caught in the blast.

            There are also close range infinite weapons.

          • Testsubject909

            And close range weapons are just damn powerful. But honestly you’re set with the infinite ammo shotgun.

          • TrueDefault

            I prefer the super wrench from that mission I forgot which, one-hit kill.

            Submachine guns are fun but a bit weak, fighting them wall-crawling wenches took me ages until I learned flamethrower is more effective against them.

          • Testsubject909

            You know what they say.

            Kill it with fire.

          • Aoshi00

            yeah, prefer disc plus don’t want to take up precious HDD space :) You did from P-A too huh, nice.

            lol, same here, I don’t play zombie games or survival horror normally (watching is okay, I could push forward w/ the Last of Us because of the gripping drama like Walking Dead :), but now I’m interested knowing it’s an open world game filled w/ mystery and investigation, w/ improved combat on PS3 all the better..

          • Testsubject909

            Discovering more about the characters, about the main character and more importantly, about Zach.

            Is fascinating.

            Isn’t that right, Zach?

          • TrueDefault

            You should totally get 999 and its sequel Virtue’s last reward then! The story was surprisingly good and the puzzles made me feel smart haha.

          • Testsubject909

            Now if only the characters weren’t ball to the walls idiotic during those few sequences that really makes you think “okay, they just deserve to die”…

          • Testsubject909

            Talking about Virtue’s Last Reward by the way.

            Very few games make me quit by stupidity. To be accurate. Me witnessing incredible levels of stupidity that just makes me rage quit.

            To date there’s only two games that are in that list:

            Star Ocean 4.
            Virtue’s Last Reward.

            I’m kind of hoping the stupidity only happens to have happened during that one route I took… But I somehow doubt it since it since one particular stupid moment which happened to magnify the immediately equally idiotic moment that occurred right afterwards seems like it’d be a copy paste scenario between all paths.

            Though at least I think there’s one or two paths that could avoid that stupidity magnifying effect…

          • TrueDefault

            I do prefer the cast of 999 to Virtue’s last reward. They make me care for them more while the “Ally/Betray” mechanism in VLR did the exact opposite.

            Still, Sigma >>> Junpei. He’s funnier. Phi is super cool and I cannot hate Clover, haha.

  • Always meant to play this on 360. It sounds like the PC and PS3 versions are both still janky, though, ha. Figured I’d get which ever went on a crazy sale first.

  • Wanted to get this for PS3 but then I got spoiled. Now I’m waiting till I can get a good PC to play it on.

  • Detrimont

    twin peaks… the game(meaning, if you didn’t/don’t like twin peaks, you probably won’t like this)

  • NightzeroAX

    I’ve been told from a few people that Swery65 originally didn’t want combat to be in the game however, it was the publisher that wanted it. Imo the game would’ve been better off without it as it feels lackluster. Even so if you can get past that the game is great.

    • Aoshi00

      I wish it doesn’t have combat in it so I could just enjoy the story, still haven’t played it yet and wondering if I should get the PS3 director’s cut now (I had the 360 ver before, but regret not playing it and sold it). I just finished Beyond Two Souls in the last couple of days, loved it, found it really touching and immersive.. Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe were amazing.. now waiting for the rest of The Wolf Among Us from Telltales, I really like interactive dramas :)

      • TrueDefault

        Agree with the Beyond bit. I don’t know why some people have problems with David Cage, his stories are refreshing and always have some unpredictable twists to them.

        • Aoshi00

          I never finished Indigo Prophecy but I loved Heavy Rain, Beyond took the storytelling to another level.. controlling both Jodie and Aiden is very interesting, amazing graphics, overall one of the most unique experiences and shouldn’t be missed for those who like point & click adventures or any interactive drama.. throw you in so many different situations..

          I just beat the game, but now replaying some scenes in Jpn to make alternate choices and get the missing trophies.. great Jpn cast too like Shiraishi Ryouko as Jodie (Yajima Akiko as kid Jodie), and Kamazaki Kazuhiro as Nathan Dawkins.. VAs who’s voiced lots of US movies..

      • Testsubject909

        Go get it or get it on PC.

        Or watch a let’s play of it.

        PS: Tough choice.

        Drive with people and hear the conversations they’ll have together?

        Or drive solo and hear the conversations York will have with Zach?

        Tough call, it really is.

        • Aoshi00

          I would get it on PS3 (I got it on 360 before just sold it), and as aforementioned I never gamed on PC, definitely don’t watch gameplay on youtube.

          I was just wondering btwn the 2 console ver, “original 360 and PS3 director’s cut” which should first time player get since he mentioned it was a disappointing port. If the driving and fighting is better and makes the overall gameplay smoother, I think a little drop of framerate is not that bad.

          • Testsubject909


            Well there’s one bonus/flaw on the PS3 version. The voice can actually be heard better this time around during Polly’s scene, but that might’ve just been the TV I played it on.

            And there’s the opening scene that was added newly that I’m unsure if a newcomer should experience or not.

            But I’d still say to grab it nonetheless.

            Deadly Premonition is Deadly Premonition, whether it’s on the 360, on the PS3 or on PC.

            And if my memory is correct. The slightly off lip-sync is present in the 360 version too anyways. So the port is actually a proper port if you ask me.

    • I’ve heard the same thing, but since I don’t have a source, I didn’t write anything about it. I splits the game’s focus into two, and since the zombie part (and the combat) is what the publisher felt sold better, DP really looked like a zombie game on the outset even if the investigation part is what makes the game shine.

  • Luis Ibal

    I need this game so much.

  • Zoozbuh

    I LOVED this game, and I never expected to either. Probably one of my favourite games ever.. Best £10 I ever spent, and I will probably spend many extra hours getting to 100% on all the side-quests xD

  • harmonyworld

    It’s a total rip off of twin peaks, but I love it because york

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