Deadly Premonition, in its first form, was unveiled during Tokyo Game Show 2007. Previously unannounced, the game trailer showed a moody, atmospheric albeit graphically unimpressive town by the name of "Rainy Woods" - the game's name at the time. The protagonist was introduced as baby-faced FBI Agent David Young Henning.
The trailer showed glimpses of the odd happenings in the town. The body of a young woman named Anna is shown laid out in a morgue while another woman is shown tangled up in a grisly death-trap. Two creepy, elderly twin dwarves chant while making jerky, jarring marionette-like movements in a red room. Glimpses are shown of a dark, axe-wielding figure with glowing red eyes in a long, red coat.
The trailer ends with the David character saying "I finally got to see the real Rainy Woods" while a sultry female lounge singer singing over piano cuts in with a clear "Coming 2008" message emblazoned across the screen. Japanese text comes up at the end and reads "the more it rains, the crazier this town becomes."
This footage received little coverage from the press. Those who did pay attention to it dismissed it as a poor Twin Peaks imitation. After this the game disappeared for some time. This was undoubtedly due to the unashamed Twin Peaks references littered all over the trailer, although Access Games has never touched further on this. During this period a great deal, if not all of the dialogue was re-recorded while a few characters, most notably the protagonist, had their character designs changed.
While the developer, Access Games was (and still is) relatively unknown, their lineage can be traced back to two now defunct development studios. An amalgamation of members from DeepSPACE (Extermination, Hungry Ghosts) and Whoopee Camp (Tomba!, Tomba! 2), Access Games first venture was Spy Fiction which received middling reviews, but is now garnering some belated attention for itself due to two characters in Deadly Premonition having appeared in it first.
Hidetaka Suehiro, better known under his nickname "SWERY," is now the face of Access Games thanks to Deadly Premonition. Despite his familial calling as a Buddhist monk, SWERY realised his passion was for and in the film industry. During his tenure at the Osaka University of Arts and in his theatre troupe he developed his skills in scenario writing, CG, stage lighting and production. Eventually, a friend suggested he consider looking for a job in the games industry. He went for SNK as its headquarters were near his house. In his early days he worked on The Last Blade series for SNK, then joined the DeepSPACE crew.
In February 2010, almost two and a half years later, the game was published for the Xbox 360 by Ignition Entertainment in the USA as the budget title "Deadly Premonition." A month later, the Japanese version, "Red Seeds Profile," hit Japanese shelves at full retail price on both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 via Marvelous Entertainment. Rising Star Games published a multi-lingual European Xbox 360 release in October after the amount of interest that the region-locked American version garnered.
The quiet, budget American release was greeted by a scathing review from IGN's Erik Brudvig who opened his review with "Deadly Premonition is the definition of a system seller. Once you play it, you'll want to go sell your system" and scored it a "Painful" 2/10. Destructoid's Jim Sterling responded to this with his article "Deadly Premonition is THE greatest game ever made" two days later sharing the now (in)famous "F K... in the coffee!" cutscene followed by his tongue-in-cheek but sincere 10/10 review later that week where he stated "There is absolutely nothing in this industry that can compare to how weird and wonderful the whole experience is." The debate that sprung up from these polarising scores sparked up more interest in and awareness for the game, with Giant Bomb's Endurance Run of the game sealing the deal. These factors combined with an Amazon Deal of the Day catapulted Deadly Premonition to #1 in their Xbox 360 Sales Chart in early April ahead of AAA titles Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Mass Effect 2 and Left 4 Dead 2. At the time of writing, Xbox 360 sales of the game have reached 140,000 in the USA, 30,000 in Europe and less than 2,000 in Japan.
Deadly Premonition is divided into twenty-seven chapters spread out over eight episodes. The story starts with the body of one Anna Graham being found bound to a red tree in a forest. Our protagonist, Francis "York" Morgan is first seen in the otherworldly "Red Room." This room is where York retreats to when the player either pauses the game, smokes to pass in-game time or when he is having personal troubles he needs to deal with. In this sense it could be seen as part of York's psyche. His character is properly introduced in a cutscene where he is driving, smoking and using his laptop all while deeply engaged in a psychological debate on his phone. After totalling his car and a run-in with the Raincoat Killer he finds himself in Greenvale, ready to take on a series of gruesome murders amid some supernatural goings-on.