Review – Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise
The original Deadly Premonition is a cult classic and one of the weirdest games of all time. People have been asking for a sequel for years. Deadly Premoniton 2: A Blessing in Disguise is finally out after being announced a while ago, to the joy of all us fans of one of the best “so bad it’s good” experiences of all time. It’s time to find out if this is truly a blessing in disguise, as the title implies.
Set years after the events of the original game, we meet Aliyah Davies, an FBI agent who is investigating the resurgence of the drug known as Saint Rouge, as well as a murder case that was closed nearly fifteen years prior. Her investigations eventually lead to good ol’ Francis “Zach” Morgan, as a broken older man. Suffering from cancer and PTSD from the Greenvale case from the original game, Zach is in a rough spot. Aliyah has reason to believe he is connected to new events that have unfolded and that he is actually hiding something big.
The game will switch back and forth between the 2019 investigation and the events that took place in 2005, with Francis “York” Morgan (Please, call him York) as your main playable character. Whilst on vacatio,n York enters the small town of Le Carre, which is coincidentally linked to the Saint Rogue drug he has been tracking, as well as a string of murders that have lead him to this town. Most of the game takes place in 2005, and as a result, Aliyah’s investigation takes much of a backseat. Whilst an enjoyable character on her own, she doesn’t get the chance to shine through, and her scenes never really take her out of the interrogation with Zach in his apartment.
The story is absolutely the highlight of Deadly Premonition 2, with its cast of charmingly weird characters and an engaging central mystery that propels the game forward, with a satisfying finale that ties up any potential loose ends. With that being said, it doesn’t hit the same heights as the original game, and in some it loses its charm with certain plot points and characters that feel completely out of place, even for Deadly Premonition standards. Outside of the central cast there’s not much in the way of fun characters.
The open world of La Carre is a lot smaller than the original game’s Greenvale, so navigating it isn’t exactly a chore. Not only you can fast travel between certain places, but you also have access to a skateboard to run around much faster. Don’t worry, there is also a canonical, in-game explanation as to why and how York owns a skateboard. It’s a neat little open world that I genuinely enjoyed exploring at first, but eventually this enjoyment led to frustration, as you are constantly going back and forth between multiple points. Not to mention it’s a lot emptier than before, with way less people to interact with.
Taking on enemies is no longer an messy and awful chore where you are battling with the controls. It’s still quite dull, janky and simplistic, but it’s a lot more serviceable with much more interesting enemies to fight, even if the variety on display still suffers. However, there are less combat encounters in this game, which can make everything feel less varied. Where the original throws you straight into the action, the sequel takes its time to even give you a gun and even longer before encountering the other world for the first time.
The biggest disappointment is that Deadly Premonition 2 doesn’t improve on the investigation elements on the original. Instead, it’s the same “go here and click on this icon and York will piece it all together for you” for each investigation. Whilst fine enough in its own right, pushing the story along at a decent enough pace, it’s just disappointing that the gameplay is completely devoid of challenge. You feel less like a detective working the case and more like a spectator just watching everything unfold. The gameplay loop just ends up boiling down to fetch quests, backtracking and basic interactions with the environment.
Unfortunately though, Deadly Premonition 2 is plagued by a ton of technical issues that are outright infuriating. It’s a technical mess all around, and not in the charming, “OG Deadly Premonition” sense. Amongst the painfully long loading times and occasional black screen, is a frame rate that can barely be described as “playable”.
This isn’t a problem at first, as the indoor areas feature bearable framerates, but the minute you step outside, the game just tanks, occasionally reaching the low tens. A couple patches have came out since launch, and have made the game smoother to play, but we are still looking at a framerate that will still regularly drop below the mid-twenty mark. Not a great time and can seriously impact one’s overall enjoyment.
This is made even worse by the fact that the game doesn’t look great either. This time, it goes for a more cell-shaded art style. This still feels like a budget Playstation 2 game where there’s a lack of detail just about everywhere. Items will pop into existence mere feet away from York. I’m not too disappointed by the art style per se, it is part of the charm after all, but I am disappointed that the game performs so poorly even though these visuals clearly don’t push the Switch’s hardware to its limits. Playing it in either docked or handheld mode doesn’t make too much of a difference but I would absolutely reccomend keeping this in handheld.
The sound design however is phenomenal, or at least very true to what one would expect from a game like this. It can best be described as “you’ll either love it or hate it”, and I certainly love it. The voice acting isn’t great by any means, and it will often feel hilariously bad, but that’s part of the charm. Hearing York ramble on about movies or talking to his imaginary friend Zach in the middle of a murder case in front of people, like there’s nothing wrong is hilarious. York still remains one of my favourite gaming characters of all time. The soundtrack is also pretty good with the same B-movie charm from the original.
If you didn’t care much for the original Deadly Premonition game, A Blessing in Disguise won’t convince you of the contrary. The dull combat, absymal framerate, and repetitive level design are blatant issues that truly bring the experience down. However, if you are a fan of the original, the same engaging (yet stupid) story and wacky characters might make it a worthwhile endeavour.
Subpar graphics with a terrible framerate. It is a vast disappointment.
Mediocre gameplay that doesn’t do a lot to improve on the original game. The underwhelming framerate isn’t helpful either.
York returns as the charming idiotic detective in one of his earlier cases. His voice acting is as stupid yet endearing as ever.
Deadly Premonition 2 is a bizarre and enjoyable experience that, sadly, doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor.
Final Verdict: 5.0
Deadly Premonition 2 is available now on Switch.
Reviewed on Switch.