With so many major players in the horror game market, between Capcom’s top-tier Resident Evil series, Konami’s respectable-but-dwindling Silent Hill franchise, and EA’s up-and-coming Dead Space series, among others, it can be hard for new developers to get their foot in the door with genre fans. Siren: Blood Curse and Condemned 2: Bloodshot were solid horror games, but even with large corporations behind them, their numbers weren’t spectacular at the end of the day. Deadly Premonition, at first glance, isn’t in a better position, as it lacks the big name backing of all of the aforementioned games, but it has managed to turn a few heads and generate some buzz. The weird and interesting promotional videos released for the game combined with the low release price have generated some positive press, and its Xbox 360 exclusivity certainly doesn’t hurt any.
We had a chance to ask Access Games Production Director Swery some questions about the game, in hopes of clearing up just what the game was all about and what players could look forward to. While we might not have entirely cleared up the former, the answer to the latter, so far, seems to be “quite a bit”Â.
DHGF: The official website and the trailers give some basic information about the storyline of the game, but the trailers are surreal, to say the least. Can you tell us what this game is about and shed some light on what is going on?
SWERY: The resolution of the murder case of Anna Graham is both the closing of one mystery and the beginning of another. The game provides you with a unique perspective from an FBI agent in a horror setting that you will not be able to find in any other games and once you complete Deadly Premonition, you will be longing for more of its thrill and intrigue.
DHGF: What sorts of horror movies, stories or games inspired the development of the title?
SWERY: I played as many games, watched as many movies, and read as many books as possible every day during the brainstorming and creative process. Everything I consumed contributed to the development of Deadly Premonition, but ultimately the game is a unique world of its own. The reality presented in Deadly Premonition is less polished than what is typically portrayed in the world of horror movies and novels.
DHGF: Can you give us some insight on what inspired the game’s “Raincoat Killer?” We often comment on Diehard GameFAN that horror games have become merely “action games with monsters,” as was the case with Resident Evil 5. Is this character a response to that mentality, where your only option is to run away?
SWERY: Providing entertainment value and a gripping storyline was a main goal of mine while creating this game. I wanted to incorporate not just fights with monsters, but also an intriguing mystery that needs to be solved. I wanted players to yearn to seek the answer, which can only be found through gameplay.
DHGF: Outside of facing off against the Raincoat Killer, how does the combat in Deadly Premonition work?
SWERY: Combat is crafted to be an integral component of the storyline and battles reveal more information. You will find that the more you play the more you will anticipate the battles because it will lead you closer towards solving the mystery.
DHGF: Speaking of Resident Evil, the past few years have seen a fairly large amount of horror-themed titles, between the various Resident Evil and Silent Hill releases and the launch of new IP’s like Dead Space. What does Deadly Premonition do to set itself apart from those games as a must-have for horror fans?
SWERY: The core of Deadly Premonition is solving the bloody, mysterious murder cases that plague the town of Greenvale. The storyline, characters, and environments makes Deadly Premonition much more gripping, while of course, incorporating unworldly monsters and bloody battles as well. Ã£â‚¬â‚¬Ã£â‚¬â‚¬
DHGF: I’ve seen indications that the game will allow the player to drive around the entire town and there will be realistic day and night cycles as well as weather changes. What impact will these mechanics have on the gameplay?
SWERY: Again, in order to make Deadly Premonition very realistic, we wanted to have as many aspects of daily life as possible to remind the players that the fear and horror found in Greenvale may not be as far from their own lives as they might assume. Blurring the line between reality and horror was a key factor in creating an atmosphere of chilling fear and mystery around the deaths. All of the characters are residents of Greenvale”â€the twins, the bartender, the museum curator, the sheriff, but as the story starts to unfold and the mystery begins revealing itself, you begin to realize that everyday people can be a part of harrowing incidents.
DHGF: Why did the developer choose to put the player in the role of an FBI agent?
SWERY: FBI agents are renowned worldwide for their keen crime-solving capabilities, especially when it comes to murders. The lead character being an FBI agent immediately establishes a strong set of characterizations that players recognize and can quickly identify with. This is also how I cast and created the other characters in the game.Ã£â‚¬â‚¬Ã£â‚¬â‚¬Ã£â‚¬â‚¬Ã£â‚¬â‚¬Ã£â‚¬â‚¬Ã£â‚¬â‚¬Ã£â‚¬â‚¬Ã£â‚¬â‚¬ Ã£â‚¬â‚¬Ã£â‚¬â‚¬Ã£â‚¬â‚¬Ã£â‚¬â‚¬Ã£â‚¬â‚¬Ã£â‚¬â‚¬Ã£â‚¬â‚¬
DHGF: As such, what emphasis will be placed on detective work or investigations of any sort? What kind of puzzle solving or exploration elements will be present in the title?
SWERY: The investigations are very intimate and in-depth. You explore all of Greenvale, collecting evidence, interrogating residents, tailing suspects, and conducting house-to-house investigations. Surprising facts are hidden everywhere. Solving the mystery requires patience and discernment, just as it would be required of a true crime-solver.
SWERY: Side missions contribute to the investigation and allow you to see the broad picture”â€you begin to connect the dots. Completing side missions gives you access to receive items that provide you with an advantage for proceeding with the investigation, obtaining a costume, and other rewards.
DHGF: This looks to be the first horror title from developer Access Games. Did that make any part of the development process challenging or do you feel the company rose to the occasion? What would you say was the hardest roadblock to overcome while attempting a new genre?
SWERY: For me, the most important component of game development is that everyone on the team shares the vision and is dedicated to working towards it. In the past, I have actually worked on horror games but I am under contract and cannot disclose the titles.
DHGF: Will there be any differences between the US version of the game and Red Seeds Profile, the Japanese release? What do you feel the differences are between how the U.S. audience perceives horror as opposed to the Japanese audiences and does this create any challenges when preparing the U.S. version of the title?
SWERY: The concept of horror differs from country to country, but the U.S. and Japanese versions are the same. My main goal was to portray both internal fears that you experience in your psyche and external fears that confront you in the outside world in such a way that regardless of your culture or concept of horror, you will be thrilled.
Deadly Premonition will be available February 23rd, 2010, at an estimated retail price of $19.99. With any luck, we’ll have a review ready for you shortly thereafter. Stay tuned to Diahard GameFAN for further developments.