Deadly Premonition (Rising Star Games) Board Game Review

An interesting hidden role game based on the cult classic video game of the same title.

"So this is a board game about a really shitty video game?"

"It's a board game about a video game."

"Yeah, but it was a really shitty one, right?"

"It was an homage to Twin Peaks."

"Seems like 'homage' is the word they use to describe shitty things."

"OK look -- have you played the game?"

"No, but I saw it on YouTube."

What is Deadly Premonition?

Getting people to play this one was difficult. If you don't already know, Deadly Premonition was a third-person survival horror game released in 2010. By all rights, it appeared to be a complete send up of Twin Peaks, except insofar that it may have been too similar to it. To compensate, a series of incredibly strange and whimsical segments were layered on top of the general pastiche. 

There is absolutely nothing in this industry that can compare to how weird and wonderful the whole experience is. Judged as a piece of entertainment, as a game that consistently surprises and amazes and leaves jaws hanging, I have no choice but to say that Deadly Premonition goes above and beyond. This game is so bad, it's not just become good. It's pretty close to perfect - Destructoid

It's important to know that Deadly Premonition is firmly self-aware. But that self awareness, of course, doesn't necessarily mean it's good, just as being meta and breaking the fourth wall doesn't make something sophisticated. What made Deadly Premonition a good game rather than a terrible one was it's innocent enthusiasm for its source material. It wasn't making fun of Twin Peaks, it was reveling in the experience of it.

And anyway, now it's a board game. With an estimated delivery of June 2017, it released about half a year late. And it's... interesting.

A Hidden Role Game With a Twist

In Deadly Premonition, two to four players randomly get assigned roles. One is a killer, the rest are agents. (In two player, obviously, this is not a hidden role.) Each player has a line of suspects. These suspects have traits. Players are able to move suspects to the "innocent" section of their board by selecting traits that match with the evidence they have. They are also able to move the suspects of other players to the "guilty" section of their board the same way.

The goal in Deadly Premonition is to get all of your (living) suspects up to the innocent section of the board. Once all your suspects are "innocent," you can accuse someone else of being the killer. But note that I said "living." While you're doing this, the killer is murdering away. In a four player game, the killer wins when the killer gets to eight murders. The agents win when they find the killer.

And the agents aren't working together. If an agent accuses another agent and wins, the other agent is taken out of the game (and the murders accelerate). Only one agent can win.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the game is there's really no in game way to figure out who the killer is. Agents and killers are working in very similar ways. Both agents and killers have an interest in "killing" off suspects, because it makes it easier for the agents to move all their living suspects up to innocent. Thus, the paranoia and suspicion of the game and its setting are translated into the game mechanic. 

But Is It a Good Game?

I've said in the past that I don't like elimination style games. In Deadly Premonition, deceased agents still have something to do (they get to roll to kill people off), but it's still not as exciting as a game in which all players stay in. The game mechanic actually is very interesting, almost like a puzzle, because you have to match up the right traits and evidence, especially when you're accusing someone.

The game is also fast. Once you understand it, a game can run 20 to 30 minutes. And it's a hidden role game for three to four players, which is also fairly rare. But it's hard to say whether it's objectively a good game. It's interesting and well-themed, but it's really a last-man-standing game disguised as a hidden role game, because effectively, you can't make any strategic determinations against any of the other players. All you can really do is try to kill everyone else off.