Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Cult For The Sake Of Cult - Deadly Premonition - The Director's Cut

        Some games I just can’t get into.

        I got half way through Borderlands 2 before I realized I was just repeating the same things over and over again and that I was wasting my time. I fared even worse with Skyrim - made it all the way to the first village but ended up being shanked to death by the townsfolk just because I had killed one of their chickens…

        I just didn't feel like it deserved my time.

        And this is coming from someone who plays A LOT of videogames, finishes many of them and owns more games than he can possibly ever have time to play. So yeah, I play games a lot – often to completion - but some games I just cant get into.

        Case in point: Resident Evil: Revelations, the HD re-release for PS3 of the Nintendo 3DS title. Played it for a bit – decided it wasn't for me. Fair enough. That’s more to do with personal preference; it’s not a particularly bad game (I still love Resi 4 and 5), I just didn't feel I have time for it.

        And then there’s Deadly Premonition.
        Originally an Xbox 360 exclusive, this survival horror game was later re-released for PS3 as a ‘Director’s Cut’ with enhanced graphics and controls amongst other extras. Since the game had a cult following and a reputation for an excellent offbeat horror story (heavily influenced by David Lynch’s Twin Peaks), I thought I would check it out.

        …And no. Not for me. Despite the graphical overhaul this game still looks ugly as sin. Awkward character models, blocky textures, shoddy effects. Even some PS2 games look better than this!
        But that's all forgivable if it plays well… except it doesn't particularly. The character suffers from dated tank controls, the ‘improved’ combat is still abysmal and the gameplay consists of a lot of running/driving around looking for clues and killing the occasional zombie. There are long in-game cutscenes, insta-fail QTEs, a useless map and awkward menu system.
        Is this whole thing a joke? It’s not the worst game ever by a long shot but it begs the question – why would anyone want to spend time playing this when there are so many other games out there that are more worthy of your time? Was this really worthy of a 'Director’s Cut' re-release?

        Well… the fans cry, The brilliant thing about the game is the story! It’s worth playing through it just for that.
        Okay, I accept that a good story, writing and voice-acting can help elevate a technically inferior product into a effective game. The earlier Silent Hill games certainly are a good example. But this? Really? Just watch this segment of ‘gameplay’, situated a bit early on in the game shortly before I packed it in. Sure, it’s offbeat and quirky but different doesn't necessarily equal good. In my mind, gameplay is king and if a game is not fun to play, even Shakespearean levels of prose can't save it.
        Just having a good story in games is unfortunately not enough. Books, films and TV series already have that one sewn up. Now I’m not saying a game can't tell a good story – it just does so in a different way, integrated throughout the gameplay experience and not simply just through cutscenes and voiceovers.

        But… the fans continue, you didn't play enough of the game to make an adequate judgement… the story gets really good later on! That may very well be the case, but if it feels like a total slog just to get to that story then I really don't have time for it. Especially true in this age of YouTube where you can just watch all the cutscenes if you really wanted to, without having to bother to play the game at all. Or you could just go and watch Twin Peaks.

        Disappointed? Yes.

        Slightly jaded? Perhaps.

        But as we stand on the cusp of the new generation of gaming with the recent reveals of the PS4 and Xbox One, we should be expecting more for our precious gaming time.
        Sometimes I feel people go on about ‘cult’ games just because they are labelled weird and ‘cult’ and not because they are actually good games that are legitimately fun to play. And besides, as much as people were harping on about the excellent story in Deadly Premonition I was yet to witness any of it within the few hours I spent playing it.

        Perhaps I have grossly misjudged it and overlooked a classic. I just don't have the time or the patience to find out.

11th June 2013

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