At 352 pages, the Deadly Premonition Visual Companion is an essential purchase for anyone who is a fan of Swery’s polarising horror game.
For the $10 or so that it costs, you’ll quickly understand just why this needed to be a digital book on iTunes than a physical product; the team have done a really wonderful job in creating something that is very interactive while also offering plenty of content.
From the full and scalable town map (which I would have loved to have had when I was trying to use the useless minimap the first time I played Deadly Premonition), to some handy insights from Swery himself, to a soundboard, the Visual Companion is not a standard guidebook by any means.
And really, this interactivity helps make the book feel like a more suitable companion to Deadly Premonition than a standard book. As much as I personally would have loved to own a 350 page book of raw content, the reality is that this is a very niche game and so a book that spices things up with interactive elements will be far more engaging than a load of works and art work from a game that was never the most attractive out there.
It’s also worth mentioning that the book contains a load of spoilers and acts like an FAQ/ game guide for hidden secrets within Deadly Premonition. Navigating through the book makes it easy to avoid the spoilers if you’re reading it as you play, but it nevertheless might be best to avoid reading the book deeply until you’ve played through the game at least once (but still buy it for that map, ‘k?).
It’s exciting that this kind of book is now being produced for certain games, and I would like to see more developers pay attention. Now that the idea of an instruction manual is going away, visual companions, even if they’re not 350 pages long, are the perfect way for developers to provide players with a reading experience to complement the game with background information, concept art and developer interviews. Releasing it onto iTunes helps minimise the production costs while still providing that supplemental experience that sadly seems to be on its way out (collector’s editions aside).
I’m all for games being enhanced by books, booklets, and other such content, and I like the way that Deadly Premonition’s Visual Companion goes about it. It helps build the experience of the game beyond the game itself, and the insights are deep enough in the book that you’ll learn a bit about the creative process involved in making a game that has a legitimate claim to being art.
– Matt S.
Find me on Twitter: @digitallydownld