Have you ever felt like a game was made just for you? Like it was pandering to your own sensibilities and your own sense of humor? It did something different and you really enjoyed it but maybe not everyone else got it. But you did and you really liked what it was doing.
I'll let you describe Deadly Premonition here, Zach.Greenvale. Just your typical unassuming small American town. Certainly not the kind of place you'd expect to find the mutilated body of a young girl, stripped and bound to a tree as if crucified, left to be found by two young boys.Francis York Morgan (just call him York, that's what everyone calls him) is an agent of the FBI with a special interest in murder cases involving young women. He works alone, save for the company of his invisible friend and confidant Zach (don't ask). Neither of them have seen anything quite like the events unfolding in Greenvale, and all of the horrendously-mutated monsters are a bit of a warning sign too.But even the best agent can't deduce anything without information, so York sets to work gathering clues and profiling the eclectic residents of Greenvale, any of whom may be the culprit behind the "Red Seed Murders".Definitely does not resemble (or infringe upon the creative property of) Twin Peaks.Deadly Premonition is a game by Access Games for the Xbox 360 (and PlayStation 3 if you live in Japan, where it's given the much more appropriate title Red Seeds Profile) released in 2010. While panned by reviewers for its less than stellar graphics and uninspired combat system, its quirkiness and personality combined with surprisingly able storytelling have made it a possible Cult Classic in the making.An Updated Re-release "Deadly Premonition: The Directors Cut" for the PlayStation 3 was released on April 30th, with Multiple Endings and other bonuses. It received a PC port via Steam on Halloween 2013.
Provides examples of:
Abandoned Hospital: The hospital in the "red world" is only inhabited by the shadows, but that could be said of the "red world" in general.
With a few exceptions, the major citizens of Greenvale represent an entire alphabet. The case begins with the murder of Anna, which leads to the arrival of York and Zach, and everyone in between is a suspect.
With the exception of Thomas, every character vital to the plot is between A and H.
All of the characters A through G die, and Thomas is the only person outside that range who dies.
They tend to die in alphabetical order, though it isn't absolute.
The Ingram family are clustered together (Isaach and Isaiah, Jim, Keith and Lilly make I-J-K-L).
Always Murder: York muses that he always seems to get stuck with the very unusual 1% of crimes that involve serial murderers. Then again, he does work for the FBI, and solving serial murders happens to be part of what they do.
One chapter has you playing as Emily, and another as the original Raincoat Killer in the fifties.
The final boss fight has you playing as Zach.
And the Adventure Continues: At the end of the Director's Cut, York and Zach seem to be headed out to investigate a mysterious occurrence in New Orleans.
And Your Reward Is Clothes: Various sidequests have suits as rewards. Some of them do something, like extend your life bar, some don't.
The Directors Cut releases several new suits for York, and even some for Emily.
Anyone Can Die: Anyone. It's scripted as to who dies when and where, but there's a reason you can backtrack to earlier chapters in this game; you wouldn't be able to get all the sidequests otherwise. In fact, it's possible to get all the sidequests done on one playthrough provided that you put off the story as long as possible.
Arc Words: "At times we must purge things from this world because they should not exist, even if it means losing someone that you love."
Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: All the victims of the New Raincoat Killer, plus Thomas (pressured/abused into becoming his accomplice) and Emily (killed by Kaysen) become Goddesses of the Forest. York ascends similarly, as does Zach in the Director's Cut.
The Atoner: Mr. Stewart became this after he failed to protect his son George from his abusive wife, turning George into a twisted powermonger.
Attack Its Weak Point: George can only be hurt by attacking the scars on his back; Kaysen's third phase can only be hurt by attacking the doll of himself.
Bland-Name Product: The Milk Barn's shelves are stocked with such favorites as Choorios cereal, Wescafe coffee, and Cress and Colgala toothpaste. Inexplicably averted in the case of Maxwell House coffee and Trix cereal, however.
Boom, Headshot: "Bullseye! Great. Great. Amazing! Headshot." Gives you extra Agent Honor.
Bootstrapped Theme: The actual theme tune of the game? "The Woods and the Goddess," the title screen music. The song everyone actually associates with the game? "Life is Beautiful," AKA "The Whistling and Kazoos Song." For the Updated Re-release, Rising Star Games used "Life is Beautiful" for some of the promo material outright.
Breaking Speech: George gives a speech to York on power before his boss fight.
Breakable Weapons: Only melee weapons, though this is balanced by them being much more powerful than the guns. You can earn unbreakable versions of melee weapons through side-quests though.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Agent York is clearly more than a little unhinged, from the way he's always talking to the unseen Zach to the way he fixates on memorizing the directors and years of release for many movies, to the bizarre way he reacts to certain phenomena such as cracking inappropriate jokes during a grisly autopsy. However, he's also a surprisingly competent detective and his ability to fixate upon minute details to create scenarios in his mind is impressive.
Bury Your Gays: Played straight with the only confirmed gay person in town: Thomas. Who goes insane first.
But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Played with. Kaysen seems like he forgot who George was, before remembering that he was a part of his plans and insulting how simplistic it was to get him to join his cause, though it would make sense that Kaysen would forget who George is, considering his modus operandi.
Camp: Filled with it, and lampshaded almost every time.
City Mouse: York's got a bit of a city mouse thing going on at the start of the game, acting like traveling to the countryside equals going among cavemen. He's wrong though, it turns out they're as far as the Middle Ages!
Defiled Forever: A played straight undercurrent of one of the cutscenes with Emily preempting the final fight with Kayson. Present mostly in ambiguous dialogue and in Emily's condition (being mostly undressed and having a Red Tree sapling inside her abdomen). Subverted in that Zach still considers her beautiful, that she manages to pull the tree out herself, and that she lives on happily with York in the afterlife.
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: You control a few characters other than York a few times in the game. If you open up the menu and try to look at his Profiling movies, they're filled with static. Only York can visualize what happened!
Die, Chair! Die!: The only fences you can get past are the ones that can be broken down by smashing. Ditto for the crates. You often get a little reward money for this, too.
Disappeared Dad: York, Emily and George all lost theirs one way or another at young ages. Two of those have highly sinister reasons.
Disc One Nuke: It's possible to obtain an infinite-ammo SMG early on from a sidequest, making combat go by a lot faster.
Even earlier than this the infinite durability wrench can be obtained from a sidequest, which is far better than the initial pistol.
Just as early as the wrench is the Legendary Guitar Grecotch. All you need to do is play the Lilly sidequest, complete the level, exit the game, replay the second chapter, rinse and repeat, and there you go. Now hard mode is a total cakewalk until the last level, which still isn't too hard.
Diving Save: York employs this to rescue Diane who's hanging from the ceiling of the Muses Gallery.
Poor, poor Thomas. Witnessing Becky's and Diane's deaths was just too much for him.
The townsfolk of Greenvale that got into contact with the purple fog released by Kaysen and the military.
Driven to Suicide: Zach's father puts his gun to his head after failing to shoot his wife before the sapling planted in her sprouts.
The player is given the option of direct suicide in the end.
Drives Like Crazy: Oh dear God, York. His first scene in the real world has him talking on his cellphone, looking at files on his computer and trying to light a cigarette while speeding down a rainy road in the middle of the night. Surprisingly, it's only when the raincoat killer darts in front of him that he actually crashes.
Fog of Doom: The purple fog coming from the red trees causes anyone who is exposed to it long enough to be driven insane.
Former Teen Rebel: Emily is surprised to learn that York was a bit of a punk rocker in his youth.
Foreshadowing: Being based on Twin Peaks, this game is chock full of it.
The foreshadowing begins in the very first chapter, in the very first room, where you have to examine a number items to proceed. All of them are appear irrelevant... until you begin the final boss fight and recall that one was a doll of a fat man.
York's very first profiling sequence rapidly flashes forward throughout the entire game and contains some images that are quite significant and spoilertastic when you know to look out for them, including shots of both Becky and Diane's deaths, Zach's dead mother with the sprout growing out of her belly, and the scene where Emily is united with the other victims.
Perhaps the most damning piece of foreshadowing, that is probably the most easily overlooked, are the red raincoats you can find in the police station storage room.
Also, if you look closely, you'll notice that George's scar gradually becomes more open and featured with each murder. The game even calls attention to this on your second trip to the museum - York notes that "something's different" about George, but he brushes it off as having a little alcohol.
"The excessive loss of blood from her internal organs is what actually killed her.", as the camera pans onto a squirming Emily...
When York was talking about the Sinner's Sandwich, he said that Mr. Stewart was atoning for his past sins... See The Atoner above.
George has a red tree in his front yard. Once you realize it is there, it sticks out like a sore thumb. His license plate is also a giveaway, and during one scene the camera actually focuses on it for a second. His house is also the only one in Greenvale you can't peek into.
Similarly (and somewhat bizarrely), just before the town meeting starts York mentions only being on stage once in elementary school, in the "tough role" of a bright red tree.
"F...K... In the coffee!".
Just after meeting Diane, York tells Zach that she will likely lead him to the killer. He then looks up and sees Kaysen in her office.
During one of the "coffee fortune" scenes, York tells Zach that a colleague of his once had his hair turn completely white from stress. The colleague is in fact Zach himself.
While incredibly funny at first, George's logic about going to Velvet Falls to find lost files that are important to the case, saying that if they don't find them, they'll become more powerful, becomes more meaningful near the endgame. George has a very big obsession with "power", due to his mother beating him with branches when he was younger.
George: It's almost as if [Becky and Diane] died because of me...
York: You're out of your mind.
The non-Japanese title to the game, referring to the fact that the coffee tells York the initials of the killer, hence, a deadly premonition.
York is told that his scar is the talk of the town. While York's scar is nothing to write home about, Zach's is quite impressive.
There's a jolly fat man amongst the soldiers in Harry's flashback story. His mask doesn't cover enough of his face if you look carefully, and there's a potted sapling on a crate nearby. This is before he's properly revealed during the original Raincoat Killer sequence.
York's response to Emily meeting him all dolled-up is to say she's "already a goddess of the forest." No, York, but she will be by the end of the game.
In the Other World version of Harry's mansion, Brian Xander Morgan gives his speech about having to kill someone you love... while pointing his gun at a hallucinated Emily.
When York is examining Anna's body he says: "George, the perpetrator is just like you." It is George.
For the Evulz: Kaysen was already immortal and had no real need for any of the murders, and it is very clear that he torments the citizens of Greenvale and plants the red trees in women all over the United States purely for his own amusement. He's just that much of an utter bastard.
Game-Breaking Bug: Replaying chapters before completing the game can cause important keys to disappear from your inventory, making it impossible to progress past certain points (such as in chapter 9 and chapter 23), as there's no way to get the keys again without restarting the game.
Garden of Evil: The 'red world' that York occasionally visits is covered in strange red vines. In some cases, Greenvale itself is a Garden of Evil in the making, thanks to the red seeds scattered about that can drive the entire town insane.
Genre-Busting: One of the reasons this game isn't Trope Overdosed despite its popularity is the fact that it's so difficult to completely classify in a few words.
George's compulsion for throwing his hands out in exasperation can seem threatening after a while.
Emily's ability to pose with her hands on her hips even while sitting down is almost frightening.
York sticks his finger up in the air and taps his tie so often that if a drinking game were to be based around them you'd have to make sure to use half-shots.
When you talk to some people, they'll shove whatever they were holding into their back pocket, even if it's a large object like a broom or a jug. After talking to you, they'll proceed to remove it from their pocket and continue on with their business.
Golf Clubbing: Golf clubs serve as reliable weapons throughout the game.
York has a small scratch under his eye, and an older scar going through his left eyebrow and up his head (mostly all healed now). Zach has a much more heroic (and obvious) one down through his eye.
George's back is riddled with them, which obscures the ONE tree-shaped back-scar York is looking for. George's facial scar also slowly becomes more pronounced with each murder, something most people don't realize until way after the game is over.
Gorn: The town's deceptively friendly atmosphere makes it really shocking when someone dies in such a violent manner.
Government Conspiracy: The US military deliberately released the purple fog onto the populace of Greenvale for an unrevealed reason and quickly covered it up, wiping it clean off of any official records.
Guns Are Worthless: Averted in that guns are very useful throughout the game, but played somewhat straight in the way a melee weapon will do much more damage than a pistol or machine gun.
When Becky is found in her house all strung up. She's alive, but soon dies due to the trap being set off.
When York dives off the balcony to save Diane. She's saved from being impaled on a pointy sculpture. Five minutes later, that same sculpture falls on top of her.
Humanoid Abomination: Judging by his dialogue and mutations, either Forrest Kaysen was never human to begin with and just spreads violence and chaos For the Evulz, or he's been alive for a very, very long time, to the point where he no longer sees himself as human and just spreads violence and chaos For the Evulz.
If you attempt to kill him at the wrong time he will mention that he was "always more than human", and is "A messenger from the Red World".
Hypercompetent Sidekick: Harry isn't stupid by any means, but damn, Michael can do everything! He also frequently displays an enormous amount of knowledge about Greenvale's past and current events, even when Harry isn't feeding him information. This makes a lot more sense, though, after he reveals that he's Harry's adopted son during his sidequest.
Idiot Ball: York near the very end, completely failing to notice the most obvious hints in the game that point to Kaysen's guilt as well as the "peace sign" being a tree. Possibly justified by the fact that Zach's mental block concerning Kaysen probably doesn't allow for clear thinking when he's involved.
Just for Pun: The first victim is Anna Graham. The last victim gets soiled.
Innocent Inaccurate: The Ingram twins, not quite grasping the concept of death, believe that Anna has become a goddess of the woods.
Subverted in that the victims have in fact become "goddesses of the forest", as the twins can see them in the forest (along with York) during the epilogue.
Insistent Terminology: The men of the Morgan family seem to identify mainly by their middle name, since not only is York rarely called Francis, his father Brian Xander Morgan is mostly known as Xander (and even calls his son by his middle name).
Insufferable Genius: York isn't shy about letting rural cops George and Emily know he's a much better detective than them. He lightens up on it a little later on though.
Insurmountable Waist High Fence: Played straighter than straight. You can't stray off of clearly marked paths in forest areas, even with a car. For that matter a lot of chain-link fences are surprisingly sturdy and won't budge even if you slam your car into them. And let's not forget the part where you have to fight your way through a building in order to get to the other side of some couches.
Interesting Situation Duel: Emily gunfights Thomas in the town bell-tower, whilst he uses a revolver. Things stop sounding normal from there as he's wearing a dress, on a clock wheel, and using a hook as his second means of harming Emily.
In-Universe Game Clock: Time progresses at nearly a real-time rate (25 seconds to every minute). It fast-forwards if you smoke cigarettes or sleep, though doing so will cause your hunger meter to decrease greatly.
Jack the Ripoff: Subverted. The new Raincoat Killer is nothing like the original Raincoat Killer, despite aping his appearance.
Karma Houdini: Willie gets away scot-free despite being Kaysen's link to the Red Tree.
Large Ham: George and Kaysen, preceding their boss fights.
York mentions that his investigation technique involves dividing people into three categories: investigators, victims and suspects. Everyone else is just "vegetables known as 'other people'". This matches neatly game's division between important individuals and background characters you can't interact with. Until you learn a person's name, they are all labeled simply as "suspect".
The way York talks to Zach often comes across like Zach is the player themselves. In a sense, he is, given that he's the actual Francis Morgan.
Attempting to describe Emily's cooking, York at one point starts describing a mission which had him going down into the sewer, and inspecting the trash compactor in Emily's kitchen leads him to comment on whether or not that constitutes illegal dumping of hazardous waste. Thomas refers to Emily's attempts as "amazon cooking." Peeking in Emily's house, the charred stovetop really says it all.
Subverted with the turkey, cereal, and strawberry jam "Sinner's Sandwich" - York initially thinks it's supposed to be awful so as to be a form of penance for the eater's past sins, but after he tries one he finds it to be so delicious that he immediately changes his order to it.
Truth in Television too, if you use a cereal like Cheerios, that sandwich is actually really good.
Thomas is easily one of the better chefs in the game, but when me messes up, he messes up HARD. No, seriously, who mistakes peanut butter for mustard?
The General apparently knew one of these guys during his tour in Vietnam. The guy's cooking was supposedly so bad it almost decimated the entire platoon, nearly making him a LITERAL Lethal Chef.
Nearly all the NPCs wear only one outfit for the entire game regardless of time, location, or weather; the ones that do have different outfits change them only for plot reasons (Emily changing into a slinky black dress for dinner, the "goddesses of the forest" changing into red dresses, etc...).
Averted with York, as you can have him wear any of a number of suits and have it reflected in the cutscenes. Played straight with Zach, who cannot change suits.
Locked into Strangeness: Young Zach's hair turns white after witnessing his mother's brutal death and his father's suicide, then getting scarred by Kaysen.
"Pillow Stain", which was in the original "Rainy Woods" trailer, can be heard nowhere else in the game but Thomas's apartment and in the Sound Test.
The song "Crucial Moment" is a atmospheric string piece that only plays once when you find Thomas's badge in the Galaxy of Terror. However, you can easily miss it since a profiling segment starts immediately afterword, meaning you might only get to hear a few seconds of the song before you skip past it forever.
The very beginning plays at other spots in the game as a suspenseful sting, but it's always cut off before the melody comes in.
Make My Monster Grow: No spoileriffic description here. You just have to see it to believe it for yourself.
Man in White: Michael Tillotson. Also Mr. Stewart in York's dreams.
Marathon Boss: Forrest Kaysen, Phase 3. And if you screw up the last bit, he regains all of his health and you have to start over.
Meaningful Echo: General Lysander, who runs the junkyard, keeps going on and on about the importance of speed and having a fast car. Harry Stewart, the only other person the same age as him in town, keeps saying that haste makes waste. "Some people think speed is the only thing that matters. They rely on speed, and are satisfied with what speed brings, but they miss sight of the important details."
Meaningful Name: George Woodman. This also counts for the original Raincoat Killer, AKA Harry Woodman's father.
Don't forget Forrest Kaysen who goes around selling saplings.
Zach's mother begged his father to kill her before the sapling planted in her sprouted.
At the endgame Emily begs York (now Zach) to do the same.
The original Raincoat Killer killings may be considered mercy kills as well.
Mind Screw: How much of the action sequences were actually real? Were the enemies civilians who had been caught in the rain, ghosts of the original victims, or figments of York's imagination? Why could Emily see them? How much of Harry's story was true? Was the military really responsible, or was Kaysen acting alone? Why was Kaysen in the military at all? Did the final boss fight even happen? Why does everyone intuitively know to call you Zach after The Reveal? Does that mean that you only thoughtyou were calling yourself York? Why can Isaach and Isaiah see dead people? Why were they in the Red Room? What was the Red Room? Why did Kaysen know about it? What did he mean when he said that he was from the "Red World?"
With the new scenes in the Director's Cut it could be that "Grandpa Zach" was dressing the story up a bit and that most of the Red World stuff didn't happen.
And to a lesser extent, SWERY's graphic on his director's blog that points out that Greenvale's borders are the outline of a dog... specifically, Willie.
Misaimed Realism: Your car can actually run out of gas and you have to fill it back up, yet during certain missions and checkpoint races, your car becomes invincible and has unlimited fuel, which makes you wonder why the developers bothered implementing such a pointless mechanic.
It's an excuse for more sidequests when it comes down to it.
Mobile Maze: Harry Stewart lives in one. The entrance room rotates when Michael taps some keys on the piano, and the door behind him leads to a different place each time.
Money for Nothing: You get pocket change for a ridiculous number of actions. Shaving, changing your suit regularly, driving at top speed for as long as you can, checking the weather, and so on. You'll likely get most of your money from defeating enemies, but it's still amusing to get paid to go about your daily routine.
Mood Whiplash: Every few minutes. You'd best wear a bracer when playing this game. "Hahaha—WHAT THE?!" sums it up.
New Game+: You can replay any completed chapter with all your current inventory items intact. Considering certain sidequest givers die at certain points in the game, this kind of backtracking is vital.
In the lumber mill or the Museum, failing to solve the tree-of-hands puzzle will lead to York going Laughing Mad.
If you decide to have Zach kill himself or shoot Forrest Kaysen rather than (attempt) to Mercy Kill a begging Emily, you're treated to York telling you that you made the wrong choice with a shriveled up Emily with parts of the red tree that Kaysen planted sticking out from her.
Nostalgic Narrator: Zach as an old man is telling the story to his granddaughter in the remake.
Notice This: Deadly Premonition leans more heavily upon this than most modern games—any object that can be interacted with has a huge glowing pool of light in front of it, whether it's a switch or an item to be collected. About the only thing that doesn't glow are doors (though plot-relevant doors will have a red pool of light in front of them).
Not Using the Zed Word: The zombie-ghost enemies aren't given a proper name. York simply refers to them as "Them," though some of the profiling photos of them call them "Shadows."
This might just be because most characters never acknowledge the creatures' existence, let alone discuss them. George uses the zed word near the climax to refer to something not unlike the zombie-ghosts.
Only Sane Man: Emily considers herself this. She's the only main character, besides York, who didn't grow up in Greenvale, so she doesn't seem to have any of the other townfolk's eccentricities.
Optional Traffic Laws: While you can get penalized for mowing down too many lampposts or driving too close to any townsfolk on foot, it barely dents your wallet. That said, the only non-monetary penalty for hitting other drivers is that your vehicle gets damaged.
Orifice Invasion: Some of the enemies like to shove their hands down York's mouth. Given the chance, these enemies will shove their entire bodies down York's mouth, which will definitely kill him.
Phony Veteran: York makes out Lysander to be one of these, noting that the old man wears a sergeant's uniform despite calling himself The General. Inverted, as it turns out that Lysander actually was promoted to general but out of guilt during the Vietnam War continues to think of himself as a sergeant.
Power Trio: York, George, and Emily during many case missions, with Emily often acting as the mediator. (Or at least, quicker to give up fighting York's eccentricities, leaving George alone until he gives up as well.)
Press X to Not Die: Used whenever running from the Raincoat Killer or during a boss fight.
The Profiler: This is York's entire schtick. His sole method of investigation is to find a few items of evidence and use them to concoct a scenario.
Railroading: While you have a generally lax schedule (see "Take Your Time") for much of the game, there are points where you immediately have to go to a target, usually by car, which won't allow you to get out of them, and even give you unlimited gas and make your car completely invulnerable, almost as if they wanted to make sure you don't try anything funny. After discovering Thomas is likely a criminal, the game becomes much more linear, with red vines stopping you from fully exploring.
Record Needle Scratch: While it isn't accompanied by the sound effect, Emily and York's conversation in his hotel room following their conversation in the bar is backed up by "Life is Beautiful", which abruptly stops when Emily asks York about Zach.
During the very beginning of the game, York casually mentions being scratched by a hysterical woman. This is to cause you to assume that the townsfolk are simply spreading rumors over the little mark on your cheek, when in fact they're talking about the much more dramatic scar sported by Zach.
At one point Michael blocks you from getting to Harry while doing the RK's trademark finger-wag, while the killer's theme plays. It has no relevance whatsoever.
Another big one would be The General. He asks you to visit him so he can tell you about the story of the Raincoat Killer, and he's one of the few people in town who's old enough to have been around during the incident. In fact, being a soldier, he was likely standing on that clock tower gassing the town with the others. Instead, when you get to him, he just tells you war stories from 'nam.
When investigating Anna's murder site, York finds evidence of a small round object, later revealed to be a locket, that was gripped tightly by Anna, but removed from the scene. The search for this locket spans the entire game, as it passed hands through the other victims trying to keep it away from its original owner, the killer, who identifies it as proof that they're the Chosen One, linking it with a ritual to gain ultimate power. What makes it fit this trope is that, When York finally confronts Kaysen, Kaysen gleefully taunts that the locket and the ritual were nothing more than lies used to tempt the killer into committing the murders.
Respawning Enemies: A few missions have sections where one or two enemies respawn endlessly until you complete some task or just leave the area. Ranges from frustrating to just puzzling (with the exception of the very first mission, which turns it into That One Level due to the amount of frustration it introduces to someone unfamiliar with the rest of the game)
And what's in the room next door to top the icing on the cake?
Rule of Three: Multiple sidequest chains and other activities have three parts - there are three races around Greenvale, York helps Emily with her cooking three times, the Milk Barn's storage room needs to be sorted thrice, the General offers three upgrades for your cars, and so on.
Running Gag: Emily's cooking and York's bizarre smoking habits, among others.
Sequel Hook: Considering the fact that Willie (who is from the Red World) is still around, and the fact there's more than just one town with red trees. Swery has also confirmed he's making a sequel.
Don't forget that Swery said that there are "other agents of the Red Tree" like Kaysen....
In at least one ending of the Director's Cut, York tells Zach about a series of strange reports in New Orleans of people losing control of their bodies. Zach disappears from his home, presumably to pursue this lead
Serial Killer: Kaysen is heavily implied to be a mobile version of this. In the Red Room on the map of America you can see dolls of a fat man on it wearing different clothes and standing on different states. George is this too to a lesser extent.
Spy Fiction, SWERY's directorial debut, is referenced via Keith's "Back in the Hole" jacket.
Shovel Strike: A few shovels can be used as weapons. Oddly, this doesn't apply to a shovel found early in the game inside a building that can't be interacted with for some reason. (You'd think York would want any weapon he could get his hands on at that point...)
The monkeys-for-squirrels sound effect mentioned above notwithstanding, this game does get a lot of visual details for Smalltown, USA right. One of the post-game bonuses is looking at all the photographs the developers took of rural US areas to get the right appearance for diners, streets, people and so on.
York is a secondary personality created to protect Zach from psychological harm during a childhood incident. This is, in fact, one of the only reasons split personalities are developed in Real Life.
While that is true, it goes back into artistic liberty, as people with DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) cannot communicate directly with their other personalities; but this is the entire premise between Zach and York.
Shut Up, Hannibal!: Done numerous times by York in the following end game sequences preceding major boss battles.
Serial killers? Gruesome murders? Time for wacky whistling!
The flashback sequence where you play as the original Raincoat Killer, is a semi-example. Two songs play, the first is Amazing Freaking Grace, which doesn't suit the chaos of the scene, but damn sure fits the tragedy of it. The soundtrack eventually changes to 'The Woods and the Goddess', which usually plays during tranquil scenes.
Split Personality: York, which is to say that he's Zach's. Unlike most Split Personalities in fiction, this one actually was developed for reasons that are tenable in psychology: taking on another identity to spare yourself from trauma.
Play darts, go fishing, stare into coffee, and do whatever. Just remember to get back to the investigation at some point. Amusingly, though, if you're driving with the local law enforcement, they expect you to go straight to the next plot point and if you fail to do so, they give York a severe tongue-lashing while York basically shrugs and says "I had stuff to do."
You have the ability to sleep in some of the dungeons in the game, which is a cost-effective way of restoring your health, and you'll usually see an infinite supply of lolipops nearby to keep yourself from going hungry. Time is meaningless in the Dark World, however, as you can see from your clock and the "clean time" on your suits. For people who aren't in the Dark World, it probably appears that York is just gone for a few minutes.
One possible explanation for York's travels through the nightmare world.
Also applies to the townsfolk of the past and the original Raincoat Killer who, affected by the purple fog, most likely saw each other as horrible monsters and were driven to slaughter.
After the reveal that York is Zach's split personality and not the other way around, the townsfolk all call him Zach, as if it had always been that way. Not to mention the constant references to a very large scar, which York doesn't have, but Zack does.
Too Much Information: Emily asks York about older cases he's worked on. He gladly details a particular case in which a serial killer finds... practical uses for human skulls. Great dinner conversation!
Town with a Dark Secret: In the past Greenvale was the site for government experiments that drove the townsfolk into murderous frenzies.
There are also the incidents York is told about when buying the spiritual maps. They involve a man who accidentally ran his girlfriend down with his car, a crew of miners who were burned alive in what was likely a mass murder by the mine foreman and a girl who is implied to have committed suicide by throwing herself in a water turbine. They all seem like just an average bunch of ghost stories until York actually visits the locations himself and finds out that they really are haunted.
Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer for the U.S. release flashes the identities of several victims as well as the endgame bosses and Big Bad.
One of the Directors Cut trailers uses dialogue and footage from much later in the game, such as Thomas wearing a dress and acting as a villain and Zach's mother telling her husband to shoot him.
Trauma-Induced Amnesia: York can't remember much about when his father shot his mother. Which is an incredible mercy compared to the memories of what actually happened. Subverted in that York wasn't technically present, but played straight with Zach, who forgot he even existed.
Trauma Inn: Sleeping in a bed will restore York's health whether its in a nice warm hotel room or a decrepit red world dungeon. The Shadows and Raincoat Killer don't seem to mind letting York catch up on his rest and will leave him alone.
Twist Ending: York is the imaginary friend. You've been playing as Agent Francis Zach Morgan. To be precise, you were playing as York. York simply happens to not have been the original personality.
Unflinching Walk: Zach turns around and walks away as the monstrous Kaysen explodes into chunky meaty gibs.
Unreliable Narrator: Near the end of the game, you discover that not only has he been introducing himself as Francis Zach Morgan all this time, but he doesn't look like we thought he did. This explains why the townsfolk think Zach's scar is a big deal, when York seems to have only a few small cuts.
Lampshaded by Lilly at the end of the game, when she asks "Who's York?" while talking to Zach.
Updated Re-release: The Directors Cut is supposed to add new endings and story content, a narrator to explain the story more adequately, HD and Move support, and slight playstyle changes (no tank controls, the camera has much wider range, and slightly fixing the shooting controls) presumably meant to fix complaints. The graphics don't seem to have gone through any significant change aside from the removal of the green filter present in the original release.
Useless Useful Stealth: York can hold his breath to temporarily become invisible to the enemies. This slows his walking speed and makes his stamina meter run out, and there's not a lot of situations that call for stealth in the first place, so you will most likely forget about this option after it's introduced.
Wham Episode: Episode 6 in general, but Chapter 25 especially.
Wham Line: "When the time comes and you have to make that decision, make the right one. OK, Zach?" It's even printed in giant letters that are about five times larger than the rest of the dialogue in the entire game.
What Happened to the Mouse?: The Ingrams don't seem to care about the disappearance of Forrest Kaysen at the end of the game, despite the fact that they were good friends.