Soap Opera Mechanics, AKA This Cool Thing Happened in Deadly Premonition Last Night

by Darius Kazemi on January 14, 2011

in deadly premonition,Games I Love,stories

I’ve been playing a lot of Deadly Premonition. You may remember it as “that game with the insane cutscenes that make no sense.” Well, it is actually good.

Anyway, I’m here to tell you a story about what happened to me in Deadly Premonition last night. Possibly minor plot spoilers, but really this is all still conjecture on my part. The interesting thing is the mechanical stuff that’s going on. I’m probably wrong about some of the plot inferences, which is, in itself, super interesting to me.

Olivia Cormack

Olivia & Nick Cormack

So you can go to the diner and interrogate the diner waitress Olivia, but her husband, Nick the chef, kicks you out of the kitchen when you try to talk to him. At some point he’s one of the few remaining people in the town I haven’t spoken to, so I figure I’ll corner him while he leaves his home to go to work.

I sit outside Nick and Olivia’s house at about 6:30am and peek inside, using the sort of batshit peeping tom mechanic (pressing RB/LB will cycle you through every window in the house: they do not tell you this). I look around and it appears that he and his wife sleep in different bedrooms. His wife is putting on makeup and appears to be getting ready for work, buzzing around the house. Meanwhile he’s basically curled up in fetal position on his bed, rocking back and forth, and there’s a mysterious brown paper bag on his nightstand.

At about 7:00 Olivia leaves. I assumed they would commute to work together, so this is odd. I smoke a cigarette (in-game) to pass the time til about 7:30. Nick hasn’t left his bed, but Olivia is at the convenience store. Okay, so maybe she’s picking up groceries for the diner. I head over to the convenience store (made 10x easier because I have a special radio that lets you teleport to places you’ve visited), and what’s weird is that it’s closed. But she’s definitely inside with Keith, the owner. However, none of the windows I can peek through have an angle on them.

I check my map and Keith’s wife Lily is at home with her two kids. I head over there and peer in the window and yep, it’s her and the kids eating breakfast alone at the dinner table. DUHN DUHN DUUHHHHNNN.

Then I think back to the first time I met Olivia. She said something that at the time seemed like a verbal tic: “You should try the food; Nick — I mean, my husband — is a great cook.” Now I’m thinking that was a poorly translated verbal hint that Nick and Olivia’s marriage is a sham. Seeing Olivia over with Keith, and having been through some main-storyline conversations that imply that both Nick and Olivia have their own DARK SECRETS, I am pretty much hooked on the game and invested in what happens to these minor characters.

Up until this point in the game, I’ve been somewhat invested in the story. After this incident, the mechanics of the game have really invested me in the fate of these two sorta-minor-so-far characters.

(And I’m not claiming this is the only game ever to do this. Maybe Shenmue did. The point is, I wish more open world games did shit like this.)


Matthew "Sajon" Weise January 14, 2011 at 8:31 pm

You are beginning to understand why DP was my GotY. :)

Darius Kazemi January 14, 2011 at 9:09 pm

I just ten minutes ago got past the death of the second victim. The plot thickens!

Matthew "Sajon" Weise January 14, 2011 at 11:24 pm

You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. :D

Also, make sure you go back and do the Becky quest if you haven’t. Most of the missions fill out the backstory, the lives of the people in the town, considerably. And, as you’ve seen, the world-sim stuff–what they do on their daily schedule, behind closed doors, etc.–all meticulously supports and provides evidence for their stories. This game rewards “acting like a detective” like few other detective games I’ve played.

Darius Kazemi January 15, 2011 at 7:32 am

By Becky’s quest do you mean the Becky/Quint stuff that gets you the infinity wrench? I did those.

Matthew "Sajon" Weise January 15, 2011 at 10:33 am

Yes, those. I didn’t do them until later, by going back to a previous chapter. It took me a while to realize how much they fleshed out the story/world.

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