Deadly Premonition: The road to Greenvale

Saturday morning I stared into my coffee as I always do. I asked it what game I should play that day, and from the steam the letters D P arose. It could only have meant Deadly Premonition.

Every Saturday morning I make breakfast, get my fortune from my coffee, and do the dishes. Then I sit down and play video games. That’s the weekend ritual.

Recently I got an Xbox One. I’ve had Microsoft consoles in the past, but often second hand, and usually many years after its initial release. And for whatever reason, they never survived long. I think I parted ways with my Xbox when I moved to Seattle, and the disc drive on the 360 I bought from a kid on an ATV in the hood off Craigslist eventually stopped working. I don’t buy my consoles this way usually, but for whatever reason, I was never passionate enough to properly invest in a legit functioning Xbox. In fact, if I remember correctly, the first Xbox I got was found in an abandoned car that was brought into my dad’s auto shop. Ironically, the console had a copy of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City that was left in the disc drive. Funny how things happen.

Anyway, the only reason I got a 360 in the first place was for Deadly Premonition. I managed to beat the game, but I was never able to 100% it due to the failing disc drive. Eventually, I just let go of the console, and made a shrine for the game. After I moved to Seattle, it came out on PS3. I bought it again, of course, and beat it once more. But, again, I didn’t 100% it. And this time I didn’t have an excuse. Maybe it was just my lifestyle at the time? I attempted it, but still, I never collected all its trading cards, and never finished all 50 of its side missions.

Also, I missed the 360 version. In its attempt to “remaster” the PS3 version, the game performed worse than its original 360 counter part. Its load screens were longer, the framerate bounced all over the place — it just wasn’t the same. It’s the video game-phile in me, maybe.

Alas, the thing that finally made me get an Xbox One wasn’t its exclusives, wasn’t the fact that PUBG was on it, or that Game Pass actually seems like a really valuable service, but because Deadly Premonition is backwards compatible.

So instead of catching up on the Gears of War series that I’ve never had the chance to play until now, I decided to instead playthrough a game I already had twice, but this time, with the intent of 100%ing it from the start. Most of what’s stopped me is its silly complicated side missions that can only be done at certain times during certain chapters.

It’s also just good to really take my time again and digest this game once more. And though I’ve made a video about it being more that just “Twin Peaks the game,”playing it again is really driving that home for me, and allowing me to appreciate it even more as its own entity. Especially Francis York Morgan, which upon replaying, is much more rude then I remember the first time. Especially in the scene where puts his cigarette on a plate in the police station conference room.
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Over the weekend I got to chapter 6, and this is where I’m going to attempt to slam out most of the side mission. I’ve collected maybe 10 out of the 65 trading cards. (Also, I’m trying my damnedest to not use a walkthrough.)

Contrary to getting an XBONE just for Deadly Premonition, I am trying to get through the Gears series. I’m currently trudging through number 3. Those games are fun and macho and stupid — I’m having a good time. But admittedly, I am beginning to feel burnt out on its testosterone levels. I want to get through as many games this year that I haven’t played as possible, but Deadly Premonition is like comfort food for me, and sometimes it feels more therapeutic than anything to just take a break from everything, and drive aimlessly through Greenvale’s quirky and mysterious streets.

Old Man’s Journey Nintendo Switch Review

Old Man’s Journey plays more like a virtual pop-up book than a game. However, that statement should no way discredit the impact of my experience with it. It’s a quick playthrough, with little to no replay value, but is remedied by an endearing illustrative art-style, charming aesthetic, and in the end, left me emotionally shook, delivering a simple and effective tale that’ll surely be true for ages.  

The game begins with a burly old man receiving a letter. With no indication of what it says, it leads him to pack his bags and head out from his quaint seaside home,

The game features no tutorials, nor are they necessary. Intuitively I began clicking around the screen, interacting with the surroundings, and pointing the old man on where to go. Instead of traditionally moving left and right, you guide the old man further into the foreground by shifting and manipulating the terrain.

And though its lack of tutorials are welcomed, it would have been nice to know that there were several ways to play. Which is by touching the screen, using the joystick, or removing one of the joycons and using it in a Wii remote-style.

As you progress, each chapter will end with a beautifully illustrated still,  which are the only point of reference for telling the story, as well as the old man’s past. Some of the stills are worthy of being hung on my wall. And of many times I sat just watching them loop over and over again, accompanied by its worldly folk soundtrack.

Occasionally the Old Man’s Journey will change its gameplay by introducing puzzle elements like herding sheep in order to clear a path for the old man, to toying with its physics, but it never strays far from the core principles of shifting and moving the land around.

These subtle attempts at adding puzzles I found quite easy, but it seems intentional that they’re not meant to feel like roadblocks, but rather a means to add variety and interaction with the story. Again, similarly to a pop-up book.

Herding sheep, however, does get a bit tiresome and repetitive, and was more annoying than endearing later in the game.

As the game progresses and the story unravels, it sways in and out of sadder tones, which is a welcome departure from its otherwise peacefully pleasant aesthetic. And upon its conclusion, I was left emotionally moved and satisfied, which for me  justified the game’s fairly short playthrough.

At its core, Old Man’s Journey is about someone who wants more, to explore, and in doing so harms those closest to him. I, for one, can relate. I have many times chose my own work and ambitions over others, and it was even more eerily appropriate that I played this game while on a trip for work away from a loved one.

Something else I appreciated about this story is that it poses the old man in such a light that makes his morals questionable — something that few games rarely attempt in its protagonist. And to see it done effectively in a game of such small stature, was refreshing.

It’s important to note that Old Man’s Journey was previously released for PC, Mac, iOS, and Android, but its many ways to control, as well as experiencing the game on a big screen and on the go is what separates it from its previous release on other platforms.

If you haven’t already played Old Man’s Journey, then this would be the time and way to experience it. Otherwise, it doesn’t serve much of a second playthrough, and aside from control and its hybrid portability, the Switch version doesn’t offer anything new. But despite this experience being a one-and-done, I have a feeling that I’ll be remembering this game well for years to come like an old memory, both pleasant but at times sad.