A red tree, a town where it rains a lot, and an investigation into the murder of a local teenage girl. Deadly Premonition’s first debut in 2010 left players both astonished and bewildered at the quirky presentation of the Twin Peaks-inspired mystery thriller. Because of its peculiar but memorable characters, coupled with the restrained action horror sections, the game quickly became a cult hit with fans. Many praised it for the ‘so bad its good’ ambience, while others unironically agreed it was a contender for one of the greatest games of all time.
I always felt like Deadly Premonition was like that dodgy café from down the road. It’s rough on the surface and gets poor reviews, and yet you couldn’t help but duck your head in every so often and sample the menu. I loved it.
Although initially an Xbox 360 exclusive in the West, it did eventually make its way to PS3 and PC in 2013 under the guise of a director’s cut. These versions were criticised for technical issues that included regular crashing and framerate drops, but still offered the same experience the original did. And now, almost a decade later, Toybox Games has ported it to the Nintendo Switch.
Unfortunately, Deadly Premonition: Origins also suffers from a similar array of problems. Despite a smooth experience when indoors—often hitting 60fps in these areas—the number of frames drops considerably when exploring the town of Greenvale. The slowdown is noticeably bad while driving. Combine this with the fact physics and movement are tied to these framerates, and it suddenly makes car journeys a slog as you trudge along at what feels like five miles an hour. These vehicles handle so poorly as they skid and crash into walls, and it was never great in the original releases either, but here it’s aggravated by the delicacy of the Switch’s Joy-Con analog sticks are.
On the contrary, shooting has been improved marginally. Now you draw your weapon with L and shoot with R, taking after many traditional control schemes. As in the original, there’s also a button to lock on. This feels awkward if you’re locking on for the entire time you’re attacking—as you must hold three fingers down on the triggers—but combat in Deadly Premonition has always felt best when you use free-aim to go for those sweet headshots. Unlike the 2010 release, difficulty settings are no longer present, so bullet sponge enemies and daunting boss fights are not a problem anymore.
Due to a request by Hidetaka Suehiro, the original director, Deadly Premonition: Origins largely ignores many of the changes the director’s cut brought to the table. The terrible ‘old York’ cutscenes, originally intended for a sequel that never happened, are now removed, along with the real estate mechanic and additional costumes DLC that came free with the PC version.
On every level, it’s still close to the same game we fell in love with all those years ago. The loveable characters, goofy cutscenes and PS2-era graphics are present and as appealing now as they ever have been. I enjoyed going back to Greenvale a lot; the portability of the Switch makes it fun to play on the go, and is a fantastic way for newcomers to try before the sequel arrives next year. But the prominence of technical issues puts Origins on par with the PS3 and PC ports, and unfortunately means that no re-release of Deadly Premonition has ever reached the exact height of quality as the original Xbox version did.
Tested on Switch
Also available on PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Developer Access Games
Publisher Toybox Games
Disclosure a copy of Deadly Premonition Origins was supplied by Numskull Games
Numskull Games is releasing a physical collector’s edition of the game due November in EU/AU territories