Most of us know that Deadly Premonition appears in the Gamer's Edition of the Guinness World Records and holds the title of the "Most critically polarizing survival horror game of all time". The question we face today is, if this title stands even a little over three years from the game's release, after multiple revamped editions, several legendary playthroughs (Giant Bomb, Two Best Friends Play) and of course with the effects of the wonderful fanbase that enlarged DP's cult status. Simply because everybody seems to love Deadly Premonition nowadays (including me - as you probably guessed based on my avatar).
When the game released it was promptly slammed in the legendary IGN "2.0" review and later highlighted as an extraordinary train-wreck in Jim Sterling's perhaps finest game review to date. People were confused and those ballsy individuals who had the guts to actually try the game out for themselves immediately divided into two groups. Either they didn't understand DP's strange appeals or they embraced it and loved the finished product to bits. It's always a little cooler to be the one swimming upstream and elevate a game that deserves more attention in the process. I believe that that game already got all the attention it needed and improved it's overall status from "polarizing" to "legitimately good".
It's a similar story to David Fincher's 1999 film Fight Club. Now considered to be perhaps one of the best films of all time and a landmark for modern Hollywood movies of the 21. century, it was no instant classic when it originally released. It received crushing reviews from the likes of LA Times or Roger Ebert and was a huge blow to David Fincher's career as a filmmaker (who luckily reinstated himself some years later with Panic Room and Zodiac). And yet, Fight Club is now on the 10th place of Imdb's TOP 250 list and you would probably search for a long time for a "Top 100 Movies..." list without the inclusion of Fincher's 1999 epic about the descent into anarchy and mankind's return to animality.
When I first played Deadly Premonition last summer, it was still an Xbox exclusive with a nice cult following that was progressively getting weaker since the game was already two and a half years old. Still, it was a valiant effort from the community to keep releasing fan-art everyday to keep the "genius loci" of the game intact. I had no idea what to expect from the game itself and when I ended up loving it from start to finish I swiftly joined the DP fan-club while searching for an ideal recipe for the (in)famous Sinner's sandwich. I loved it even more because of the fact that the clerk at my local game store had no idea what I was buying and gave me the stink eye while contemplating about what "a piece of shit" he was just selling to me. After playing Deadly Premonition for two times I can safely say that I personally consider it to be one of the best games of all time.
The game has changed however. Not the game itself, but the way it's presented by us... the gamers. With the release of the Director's cut for the PS3 a whole new batch of reviews was released, now miraculously with higher scores than three years ago (excluding the complaints about frame-rate drops and technical hiccups). Somehow, everyone seems to understand Deadly Premonition nowadays. And I'm not saying it's a bad thing, it's what we wanted after all. For more people to cherish and enjoy this beautifully extravagant experience. And it looks we've reached that goal. Several months later, DP was announced for the PC and was the quickest game ever to be greenlit in the history of Steam Greenlight. Those are not accomplishments of a cult game for a few weird hipsters.
When I was recommending DP to a friend of mine a while back, I immediately felt the need to explain to him what exactly DP is. I told him about the bad graphics, fantastic story, quirky characters, awful controls and about the pitch-black humor. I admit, maybe I spoiled the whole experience for him a little bit, but without that he would most likely play the first five minutes and then shut it off for good. And this is the way Deadly Premonition is "marketed" by us lately... as a very weird game that everyone will love when he's ready to have a unconventional experience.
I feel like I need to clarify this again, I'm not saying that more people enjoying this delight of a game is a bad thing. I'm very excited for every copy that gets sold because every single one of them is bringing us a step closer to perhaps seeing Agent Francis York Morgan again on new consoles. When I listened to one of the earlier episodes of the Super Best Friendcast (which is a fantastic podcast hosted by Two Best Friends Play of Machinima and The Sw1tcher) last week, one of the hosts was talking about how Deadly Premonition never really struck a chord with him and how he's never really understood the appeal of the game overall. That would be absolutely fine only if he didn't receive a solid amount of hate about this particular opinion. In that moment I realised that Deadly Premonition was much more than "that odd little game with a cult following". It felt like if someone who wanted to criticise DP had to have the same bulletproof argumentation like when criticising the story of The Last of Us - a tour-de-force game that is madly loved by about 95% of the gaming world (including me).
Deadly Premonition grew into something much more than it originally was - it is now oficially a good game, since everyone is ready to experience its grotesque wonders. The real question is: If something like this happens, isn't part of the game's magic gone? Are new players robbed of the element of surprise when they're now approached by something that is considered to be a good game?