This week a momentous event occurred: Deadly Premonition got greenlit on Steam—a process in which Steam users vote on (usually) independently made games, the ones receiving the highest amount of votes actually being released on Steam—and is now available to an entirely new generation of gamers in all of its off-kilter glory. Usually the act of being greenlit is saved for indie games that otherwise wouldn’t have a chance of seeing the light of day, so when people say that maybe Deadly Premonition didn’t deserve this status (as it had already been released on a major console and was produced by Marvelous, a rather well known company) they… may have a point. But fie on them! Fie, I say! The more people that are allowed to experience this enigma of a game, the better—especially if they get a chance to experience the strange workings of producer SWERY’s mind before the release of his new game on the next gen systems. To celebrate the further spread of Deadly Premonition’s tale of murder and mystery, I went in search of some fanfiction, not exactly certain of what I’d find.
I don’t know why I’m still surprised when fanfiction exists for even the most obscure of things—although truth be told there wasn’t a lot of it—but the fanfiction for this game gave off the impression of the small town in which the game takes place: a close-knit group of people drawn together by something mysterious. Of course, I’m just projecting at this point, but let me have my fun. Out of all of the stories, one of them immediately caught my eye with its name and the sheer ambition of the project. Yes, project. Project REDWOOD, to be exact. Author Animagess may quite possibly be insane, but they have taken it upon themself to, in their words from the summary, do a “full-length retelling of the entire game, in novel form”. This isn’t the first time a game has been re-written in prose format, but the sheer scope of the trial in front of them… no matter how terrible the writing could be, the dedication is truly something to marvel at.
Now I know some of you are scratching your heads at how this could possibly be any more difficult than any other game selected at random. If someone were to novelize the .Hack games, I’m sure they’d run into similar issues, namely the complexity in the story itself and parsing through the details to find what’s important and what’s not. However, as opposed to .Hack, the writing in Deadly Premonition is not good. The best way to describe the game—outside of its lackluster frame rate and controls—is a less skillfully written Twin Peaks, as much of the game’s plot is essentially plagiarized from the 90’s show. Yes, this is a game that was greenlit simply due to the fact that people, such as myself, enjoy terrible things. Think of this game as the Birdemic of video games: a game with a good concept, but horrible execution.
What this is doing in a horror-mystery game, we’ll never know. (art by Gil @ Game Yay Fun)
But I digress. Animagess seems completely up to the task to reformatting the story to be comprehensible and maybe even a little less stupid. To my surprise, their writing style is very good, very readable, and the pacing really helps make the story seem like an actual murder mystery rather than a jumbled mess of random cut-scenes and mood-ruining music. At fifty-two chapters, they really seemed dedicated to their cause as well. Seemed. Unfortunately, and to the dismay of several reviewers, Project REDWOOD has not been updated (at least on fanfiction.net) for two years. I can understand that such a project would be incredibly draining on a person, and expecting someone who’s doing this as a hobby to complete the entire game is a perhaps setting one’s expectations too high. Animagess, if by some amazing twist of fate you are reading this article, I would love you to continue working on this project of yours. For everyone else, if you want to get a taste of the strangeness of Deadly Premonition without playing the game yourself or watching a let’s play of it, Project REDWOOD is a fantastic place to start your descent into madness and the mystery of the red seed killer.