The confounding open-world thriller Deadly Premonition was a lot of things to a lot of people. Some said it was bad, some said it was good, some even said it was “good-bad.” It was a supreme example of idiosyncratic game design; a game that was somehow both profoundly ambitious and woefully half-baked; a haunting mystery story with one of the most interesting, fully realised protagonists gaming has ever seen. There’s never been anything else quite like it.
It was also easily the closest thing we’ve ever gotten to a bona fide Twin Peaks video game. The setting, the story, and the narrative setup — A strange, gifted FBI agent (York, Cooper, take your pick) comes to a weirdo town in the Pacific Northwest to investigate a strange murder — it was all so very Twin Peaks.
But despite all the narrative similarities to David Lynch’s television opus, the thing that Deadly Premonition most shares with Twin Peaks is its vibe and sense of style. And a lot of that comes from the soundtrack.
Composed by Riyou Kinugasa, Takuya Kobayashi, and Hiromi Mizutani, the Deadly Premonition soundtrack was as Twin Peaks-y as you can get, and feels directly inspired by Angelo Badalamenti’s score for Lynch’s TV show. It’s not just the style of the music — tweaked lounge jazz, for the most part — it’s the frequency with which it plays.
Over at Planetredwood, they’ve broken down the soundtracks to both Twin Peaks and Deadly Premonition and done a track-by-track comparison just to illustrate how similar they really are. The post involves a lot of spoilers for both the show and the game, but it’s a great analysis that really illustrates how strong Badalamenti’s influence was on the Deadly Premonition composers.
The “Whistle Theme” above is and will always be a fan favourite — I’ll never forget the first time it started playing, as characters yelled weirdly loudly to be heard over it (and as I laughed and laughed). When I saw SWERY give a talk about the game at GDC, he quieted the crowd by beginning to whistle this music. Soon, everyone in the audience was whistling along.
Deadly Premonition Music Analysis [Planet Redwood]