NA Ignition Entertainment
EU Rising Star Games
|Distribution||DVD, Blu-ray Disc, download|
Deadly Premonition, known as Red Seeds Profile (レッドシーズプロファイル?) in Japan, is a psychological horror video game developed by Access Games for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and published by Ignition Entertainment in North America, Marvelous Entertainment in Japan and Rising Star Games in Europe. It was released in North America on February 17, 2010, in Japan on March 11, 2010 and in Europe on October 29, 2010. The PlayStation 3 version was released only in Japan on the same date as the Xbox 360 version. A director's cut for the PlayStation 3 was announced in March 2012 and released worldwide in April 2013. On October 29, 2013, Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut was released on Microsoft Windows via Steam.
The game is notable for introducing open world, nonlinear gameplay and a comedy horror theme to the survival horror genre. It is also notable for implementing a free-roaming storyline within an open game world where all the characters have their own schedules.
It has become known for its "headline making strangeness" and is considered one of the most critically polarising games of all-time (holding the Guinness World Record for most critically polarizing survival horror game), receiving both extremely negative and extremely positive reviews and is seen as a primary example of games as art.
The objective of Deadly Premonition is to guide the player character, FBI Special Agent Francis York Morgan, from an over-the-shoulder perspective, as he investigates the identity of the "Raincoat Killer", who is responsible for a murder in the rural town of Greenvale. York receives in-game money for numerous actions—both for finishing levels and for minor events, such as shaving or changing suits; he can also be fined for poor performance, such as wearing dirty clothes. Additionally, he requires food and sleep at regular intervals, as indicated by the gauges measuring his hunger and need for sleep. If his gauge for sleepiness reaches zero, he will become hungry more quickly; if his gauge for hunger depletes, he will begin to lose health. Sleeping restores his health, while food and items to ward off sleepiness, such as coffee, can be purchased from stores in Greenvale.
Greenvale is an open world, which York may explore on foot, by car, or by using a special item obtained by completing a sidequest. Cars must be maintained, as they consume fuel, which York must purchase, and accumulate damage that eventually renders them useless unless York pays for their repair. York often has a specific time frame for investigating sites and interviewing non-player characters; however, if he misses the timeslot, the player may simply try again during the next day without a penalty. Places of business and entertainment venues in Greenvale have specific hours of operation and must be visited at the proper time to make use of their services. Non-player characters also have their own specific routines and travel around town as they go about their business. The weather affects the responses of the non-player characters. If York engages one at the right place and time of day, he or she may offer him sidequests to perform for additional rewards. In addition to sidequests, trading cards are scattered throughout the town, which the player can collect while exploring. York can also participate in mini-games, such as darts, racing through checkpoints, and fishing, and may accelerate the passing of time by smoking cigarettes.
Deadly Premonition contains several combat sequences, in which York must defeat supernatural enemies while trapped in the Other World. York may battle them using melee weapons or firearms, or may choose to evade them by holding his breath. Melee weapons will eventually break with continued use, and York's pulse increases whenever he runs or holds his breath. Periodically, York encounters the Raincoat Killer, which will activate either a quick time event, a chase sequence, or a hiding event necessary to escape the murderer. During the Other World sequences, York's primary objective is to investigate crimes that took place there in the recent past. He collects photos of evidence to use to "profile" the scene and reconstruct events that took place with his deductive skills. Furthermore, the Other World regularly affects the entire town, excepting the interior of buildings, from midnight to six in the morning.
Deadly Premonition is set in a fictional universe, in which good and evil are spread by the messengers influenced by the Forest and Red Tree respectively. Contrasting pairs play a role in the game, such as "good and evil, reality and abnormality, earthly life and eternal life, day and night, criminals and victims, the forest and the red tree, and twins and dual personalities." Throughout the game, the protagonist, Francis York Morgan, periodically visits two supernatural rooms: the White Room and the Red Room. The White Room represents a normal subconscious, while the Red Room represents a subconscious influenced by evil.
The game centers on Francis York Morgan (Jeff Kramer), as he investigates the murder of 18-year-old Anna Graham (Melissa Hutchison) in Greenvale. York takes on the case due to the manner of the killing; a seemingly ritualistic murder of a young woman where red seeds have been found on or near the body, as this is similar to a series of other murders across the country. He is assisted by the town's sheriff George Woodman (Casey Robertson), who is scarred by a past of childhood abuse; the deputy sheriff Emily Wyatt (Rebecca Wink), who moved to the town; and Thomas MacLaine (Christopher Sullivan), George's assistant. York generates considerable friction with his dismissive attitude toward the locals, bizarre demeanor, and tendency to interrupt conversations to deliver asides to an unseen person he refers to as "Zach". Throughout the game, York is seen entering dreamlike worlds featuring angelic versions of the key witnesses to the Anna Graham murder, twin children Isaach and Isaiah, and other characters.
As the investigation continues, three more women are murdered: Anna's close friend Becky Ames (Amy Provenzano); Diane Ames (Christiane Crawford), Becky's elder sister and art gallery owner; and Thomas's younger sister Carol MacLaine (Amy Rubinate), who runs a local bar. The key links between the murders are the red seeds and a symbol York believes is a peace symbol upside-down. Additionally, York finds himself regularly ambushed and attacked by the Raincoat Killer, the murderer. York learns that the red seeds originate from Greenvale and that there are two Raincoat Killers: the first one, who went on a killing spree after the United States military sent gas out from the bell tower, causing the residents to temporarily go insane, and the current one, who hopes to gain immortality by eating the red seeds and killing people. While kidnapped by Thomas, York realizes his romantic feelings for Emily. During a battle with her, Thomas accidentally stabs himself and falls on a hook, dying in the process. York reveals that he believes the copycat raincoat killer is George. George, who has gained shapeshifting powers as the result of eating the red seeds, confirms this, and York kills him.
York realizes that, while George was the Greenvale killer, he could not have been responsible for the other similar murders nationwide and was likely just a pawn. He eventually discovers that Forrest Kaysen (Doug Boyd), a travelling tree salesman, is in fact the primary antagonist and that the upside-down peace symbol seen close to all of the victims was, in fact, a tree. York finds that Kaysen kidnapped Emily and planted a tree inside her stomach. Upon seeing this, he recovers his repressed memories: as a child, Zach witnessed his mother (Rebecca Wink) dying with a tree sprouting from her body, with his father (David Rosenthal) and Kaysen in the room. His father was unable to shoot her out of mercy, leading to a more agonising death for her, and then killed himself. Unable to cope with the grief, Zach psychologically switched places with his newly created, other personality, York. Though unable to save Emily, Zach kills Kaysen, a supernatural entity from the Red World, and leaves the town with optimism for his future. In the closing scene, York, Emily, Thomas and all of the Greenvale murder victims are seen happily existing in the alternate reality.
Deadly Premonition originates from Rainy Woods, a game that Access Games began work on in 2004. Rainy Woods debuted as a multi-platform title for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360 game consoles during the Tokyo Game Show 2007, during which several video game journalists noted that the title shared strong similarities with the American supernatural television series Twin Peaks. It featured the "young and very cynical" FBI Special Agent David Lloyd Henning as its protagonist. Rainy Woods was cancelled soon after its debut, as, according to Suehiro, "with the differences in memory allocation, lighting, and various other hardware differences between the platforms, there were a lot of large technological difficulties that prevented us from really getting started."
In 2008, Access Games began work on Deadly Premonition, which was intended to be a "reboot" of Rainy Woods, although the project faced cancellation four times. A central focus of the gameplay is freedom for the player, as Suehiro had wanted to create a game that the player could progress at his or her own speed. He had planned to incorporate two more mini-games involving chess and perfume, and had considered having the player character's weight fluctuate and his hair grow. Additionally, the combat sections of Deadly Premonition were added last in development, after a publisher worried that the game would not sell well in the West without it. Aspects of the game were initially more violent as well, as a way to express the fear of death; for example, the second victim was intended to be disembowelled while still living. However, the scenes were later toned down, as Suehiro felt that they were "too extreme".
Suehiro created a new protagonist, Francis York Morgan, with help from his friends in the United States, and he and Kenji Gota, an independent film director, created York's dialogue with his spilt personality, Zach. As Gota and Suehiro are good friends and often have conversations about film, Suehiro tried to bring that atmosphere to the dialogue. Additionally, they wrote the main plotline, while Suehiro wrote eighty percent of the sidequests and all of York's conversations with the nonplayer characters. The character Zach was intended to involve the player more in the game; according to Suehiro, "Agent York arrives in Greenvale to solve a murder case. But, the player lives this scene from his living room in front of the TV. To fill this gap, I needed something to create the illusion, without turning the character into an avatar, that the user was the main character."
For the setting, the developers traveled to the United States and noted the width measurements of the various billboards, railroad crossings, and roads to create a sense of realism for the town; the angles of the sun and weather patterns were also calculated. Every street is named, and an hourly wage was even decided on for a local diner. Additionally, the daily schedules of the non-player characters were created from their detailed background profiles. However, the developers encountered technical difficulties with the memory allocation, various lighting and shadow aspects, and their use of the physics engine PhysX.
To help the composers understand the aesthetic of Deadly Premonition, the developers hummed ideas for songs, let them see game designs, and played music that matched a certain feeling that they wished to convey. "Life is Beautiful", which uses whistling to evoke a calm walk in the countryside, was easily composed, along with "York and Zach", which appears during York's monologues. "Miss Stilletto Heels", the second theme of the game, and "Red Tree", a song meant to symbolize madness, proved more difficult to create, particularly the improvisation part of "Red Tree". The sound effects were outsourced to another company, as Access Games lacked a department to deal with the sound.
On November 10, 2009, Ignition Entertainment announced Deadly Premonition would be receiving a North American release in early 2010 as an Xbox 360 exclusive. It was further specified that the game would retail within the budget range, priced at $19.99 in the United States. A European release for the Xbox 360 version was confirmed in August and Rising Star Games released it October 29. The game was released with all subtitles translated to English, French, Italian, German and Spanish. Rising Star decided to forgo an Australian release due to what it cited as "classification concerns" Despite this, the Director's Cut version was later classified with an MA15+ rating.
On March 8, 2012, Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut developed by ToyBox Inc. was announced for release in Europe and North America for the PlayStation 3 by Rising Star Games. It was released on April 30, 2013. This edition has updated controls, stereoscopic 3D, updated HD visuals, PlayStation Move support, downloadable content including various pre-order bonuses, and additional scenarios written by Hidetaka Suehiro aka "Swery65".
This edition offers an extended ending, as well as adding a framing device to the game's plot so that it is now being told by an elderly Zach as a bedtime story to his granddaughter: Michelle Louise Morgan, whom he repeatedly refers to as Emily by mistake. The extended ending shows the elderly Zach entering the same alternate reality that York, Emily, and all the victims inhabit, where he is warmly greeted by them. York tells Zach that's he glad to see him again, lamenting how long it's been since they last spoke, but reassuring Zach that he was there every step of the way, "even if you couldn't see me." York then proceeds to tell Zach about a new case that's caught his interest: an outbreak of illness in New Orleans that attacks the victim's nervous system. York asks Zach what he thinks about the case, offering the player three dialogue responses. Regardless of what the player answers, York responds that he "knew you'd say that" and tells Zach "it's time to wake up", followed by a smash cut to a screen that says "THE END". The game then returns to the main menu, but with the title screen now that of the fireplace in the elderly Zach's room. Louise can be heard off-screen informing her mother that Zach has disappeared, and she wonders where he could have gone to.
On July 16, 2013, Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut was announced for Microsoft Windows, aiming for a release on October 31, 2013. The official release date was October 29, 2013. The PC release was criticized for the non-configurable resolution, an issue which was fixed by a fan-made patch.
A Deadly Premonition interactive guide was released by Rising Star Games exclusively for iPad on October 14, 2013. Officially released as Deadly Premonition The Director's Cut: The Official Visual Companion, the interactive book has 352 pages, including:
- Interactive maps with all the information of the game.
- Concept sketches and high-resolution art
- Swery 65's notebook from the development of the game
- Interactive elements, games, puzzles and a crime scene creator widget.
In North America, Deadly Premonition led sales of Xbox 360 games on Amazon.com for the week of April 9, 2010, temporarily overtaking higher-profile releases such as Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Mass Effect 2, and Left 4 Dead 2. 50,000 copies of Deadly Premonition were sold in North America during the first three months after its debut. According to an interview with Suehiro in 2013, the original release of the game has not been commerically successful.
Deadly Premonition has received polarized reviews from critics, with praise directed at its unusual storyline and open world while criticism was directed at its spotty production values and dated controls; it received an average score of 70% from GameRankings and 68/100 from Metacritic. It is considered one of the most divisive games released in a long time, with scores ranging from as low as 2 out of 10 from IGN US (later 7.5 out of 10 from IGN UK) to as high as 10 out of 10 from Destructoid. This cult success was attributed to how the game's "wildly mixed critical reception and headline-making strangeness got people talking" by GamePro.
Criticism was directed at the game's controls, sound effects, and visual quality. IGN's Erik Brudvig called Deadly Premonition "awful in nearly every way" and criticized every aspect of the game, especially its bad production values and lackluster controls. Eurogamer's Chris Schilling noticed that the soundtrack seemed out of place during many scenes, with serious scenes often containing a light-hearted jazz track. GameSpot's Kevin VanOrd noted that the visuals contained many low-resolution textures.
Nevertheless, the game has received a significant cult following. The story and characters were widely praised by critics, and many reviewers drew comparisons to the Twin Peaks television series. Destructoid's Jim Sterling gave the game a perfect score, calling it a "beautiful trainwreck." GameSpot's Kevin VanOrd stated that the story's unpredictability was the game's greatest strength. Despite his criticism, Schilling of Eurogamer noted that the characters in the town were fascinating in their oddness. 1UP.com's Frank Cifaldi praised the game as being an example of the kind of quality interactive storytelling that only a video game could provide. Gamasutra also praised the game for its "living, bizarre game world, where people go about their daily business regardless of player interaction." GameCentral described the game as "the strangest video game of the year" and a primary example of "games as art", praising it for its "emotional range, from traditional survival horror scares to farcical comedy". X-Play gave it 4/5 stars, and named it one of the "Top 10 Games of 2010... So Far" in June 2010. Game Critics wrote an article about why it should be Game of the Year. The game has received over a dozen other awards from various publications, including "Best Cult Game" from Gamasutra, "Most Surprisingly Good Game" from GameSpot, and "Best Worst Game" from GamesRadar. In the 2012 Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition, Deadly Premonition holds the record as the "Most Critically Polarizing Survival Horror Game".
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- Access Games. Deadly Premonition. Ignition Entertainment. Level/area: Anna's Autopsy. "York: (pulls a red seed from Anna's throat) Jackpot, Zach. A shame, but our old-time all-American sightseeing tour just came to an end. This case is now under the jurisdiction of the FBI. I'm assuming command. I'll need you to assist me in the investigation. / George: What in the hell do you mean, Agent Morgan? [...] / York: Let me show you something. (Pulls out several plastic packets of red seeds.) There you go. Amazing, eh? I'm sure you have lots of questions, but most of the details are top-secret."
- Access Games. Deadly Premonition. Ignition Entertainment. Level/area: Harry's Mansion. "Harry: Between ten and twenty years ago, I noticed that the red seeds were special. And someone else did too.[...]Someone linked the red seeds to the serial killer legend and said, "If you eat the red seeds and then kill someone, you will become immortal." [....] York, the red seeds you have found from thoses other murders, they all came from this town along with the evil rumor. / York: So you're saying that the series of cases I've been following are all linked to this town."
- Access Games. Deadly Premonition. Ignition Entertainment. Level/area: Harry's Mansion. "Harry: But when I reached the top [of the clocktower], I saw something strange. There were soldiers there, all wearing gas masks. I moved closer and saw that they were fiddling with some kind of device. The device was emitting a purple smoke outside. [...] I covered my nose and mouth and ran home. [...] The people were attacking and killing each other, rampaging as though insane. One man, dressed in a red raincoat, was particularly strong. Anybody who attacked him was killed in an instant. [...] The face beneath the hood was that of my father."
- Access Games. Deadly Premonition. Ignition Entertainment. Level/area: Clocktower. "York: If Thomas is not the killer, then there is only one other possibility. [...] "Love G" himself. / Emily: George? George is the killer?"
- Access Games. Deadly Premonition. Ignition Entertainment. Level/area: George's House. "York: Zach, look... It wasn't a reverse peace mark. It was a tree. Red... Tree... F.K. Kaysen... Forrest Kaysen...! He's the one?!"
- Access Games. Deadly Premonition. Ignition Entertainment. "Valentine Morgan: I'm sorry, my darling... I've... / Xander Morgan: Let her go! Remove that sapling from her body, Kaysen! / Kaysen: Xander, it's too late. Once it's like this, I can't do anything about it. / Valentine Morgan: Please...Darling... Shoot me... I'd rather die! [...] / Xander Morgan: (to Zach) I couldn't do it, but you can."
- Access Games. Deadly Premonition. Ignition Entertainment. "Zach: York... The other me... My other personality..."
- Access Games. Deadly Premonition. Ignition Entertainment. "Kaysen: Why can you cause me pain? Why?! I don't understand why?! / Zach: (shoots him) It's because you don't understand humans."
- Access Games. Deadly Premonition. Ignition Entertainment. "Kaysen: I don't deserve to live? Unfortunately, I've always been more than human. I'm a messenger of the Red Tree. A citizen from the Red World!"
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