Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise$50 USD
Deadly Premonition is a spectacular video game. Its fascinating narrative juxtaposed completely with its gameplay and created a monstrosity of sorts. In many ways, it felt like both a sloppily pieced together and misunderstood masterpiece. This was ten years ago, however, and the strangeness of the title only served to create a cult-like fanbase who holds renowned game director Hidetaka “SWERY” Suehiro in the highest regard. The game is a cult classic – there is no way around this fact. It has been immortalised as one of the quirkiest detective narratives in video games and is regarded as a timeless video game, whether this is a good or a bad thing is still highly up for debate. What is not up for debate, however, is the fact that it neither warrants nor begs for a sequel… yet here we are with Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise.
Deadly Premonition 2 is both a prequel and a sequel to 2010’s Deadly Premonition. It is a small-town detective game focussing on the antics of renowned [and now retired] Agent Francis York Morgan. The game sees him switch between the past and present to get to the bottom of a series of murders and extreme coincidences related to York. Unlike the first game, however, Deadly Premonition 2 introduces a new supporting protagonist named Agent Aaliyah Davis.
The story of Deadly Premonition 2 is told in a non-linear manner. As Agent York, you learn of and are the task of investigating the 2005 murder of a young girl called Lise Clarkson, whose family have monopolised the trade industry of Le Carre, a rural American Town. The story periodically switches back and forth from Agent York and Le Carre to “present-day” 2019, where you take control of Agent Davis. In 2019, Agent Davis and her socially awkward partner Agent Jones attempt to get to the bottom of Agent York’s whereabouts and his involvement in the 2005 Le Carre case. It is a classic murder mystery coloured with excellent writing and an intriguing time element.
The most memorable facet of the game, however, is how beautifully – albeit ridiculously campy – the entire cast of characters are. As you explore both timelines, you will meet multiple characters – like the split personalities of a bellboy, busboy, chef, receptionist, and owner of the Casa Pineapple hotel, to a sheriff who prides himself in his B-movie theatrics. Agent York also comes with his quirks, one of which – Zach – comes off as a multiple of his personality; but one who refuses to come out whenever more help is needed. Throughout the game, York will always discuss events and happenings with this York, making it appear as if he may be addressing you directly. Of course — and without spoiling too much — anyone who finished the first game will know this is not the case.
It must be said how the overbearing amount of campiness can become a bit of a chore to many casual video gamers. However, this is what the original Deadly Premonition prided itself on, and quite evidently, is exactly what Deadly Premonition 2 is all about. Fortunately, developer SWERY does hand players, who would rather just head straight for the goal, a bit of a break from all this wackiness. Clever writing and exceptional voice acting also balance the amount of drama and zaniness with the perfect cadence of otherworldly horror. Coupled with a great blend of twists and turns; and you have one of the best whodunit plots in a video game.
Beyond the cast of characters and their weird and wonderful roles between the two timelines, SWERY also crafted worlds that are unlike anything you could expect from a mobile device like the Nintendo Switch. Le Carre is a wonderfully rural American town, filled with life and character. Every locale has its personalities and every corner seemingly houses little surprises. Le Carre is honestly a beautiful town filled to the brim with characters and side objectives to keep you busy for hours-on-end. Getting around Le Carre, however, can be a bit of a challenge.
It may be quite the treat to see an FBI Agent, complete with button-up suit and neatly kept short hair, on a skateboard of all things, but it ultimately lacks the same kind of immediacy the vehicles of the first game offered. In Deadly Premonition, the police vehicle and York’s personal [upgradeable] vehicle took you anywhere you needed to go with GTA-style controls. While driving, you would often be immersed in the mind of York as he mumbles on about some cult classic movie from the 80s or 90s. This is not the case with Deadly Premonition 2. In stark contrast to the first game, York thunders around on the skateboard while accompanied with a weirdly jolly soundtrack most of the time. I say York “thunders” on for a good reason as well: the skateboard sounds are deafening! While I recognise the fact that the game attempts to simulate the wheels on concrete, it could do with a bit of polishing. What I did find especially nostalgic from the first game, however, is how jarring it is to get off the skateboard. When you have reached your destination and York stops skating, the soundtrack that comes with it also disappears in an instant. This may sound strangely off-putting to some, but it is reminiscent of the weird sound tropes in the first game.
Beautiful town and strange — albeit frustrating — means of transportation aside, doing anything in the game might ruffle a few feathers and result in a hernia or two. The reason for this stems from the game’s absolute trashcan-worthy framerate! I would not necessarily mind as much if loading times were short and the game had a much more zoomed-out camera, but this is not the case at all. Instead, you better get ready to play at horrific frame drops every few steps. I cannot fathom why the game has this issue either. The camera is very intimately tied to York and Davis’ backs for 90% of the game. Worse still, the loading times are unusually long too.
With that said, I must admit I love how the game is structured. Deadly Premonition 2, like its predecessor, is a third-person title with action-adventure elements. These are not the bread and butter of the title by any means, but they still offer an extremely entertaining way for players to let off some steam in regular intervals. Furthermore, exploring and doing quests (or cases) all rely on a real in-world clock that keeps on ticking as you play the game. This means shops, certain activities, and even many missions will only be available during certain times of the day. I love this mechanic in games since it gives the story credence versus going off and messing about with side quests. The town of Le Carre also looks stunning during certain times, egregious frame rate be damned.
Overall, Deadly Premonition 2 is a wondrous game. It successfully follows on from a masterpiece of a game with a wonderful new cast of characters, improved graphical fidelity, and mature narrative that does not take away from the wacky charm fans of the first game have come to expect. It is a wonderful sequel with an equally as wonderful narrative hearkening back to the best of what the first game offered, and then some. Alas, it is let down by some truly atrocious optimisation. While it does not live up to the standards of the first, this sequel will undoubtedly go down as the perfect companion piece to the immortalised classic. In a way, it is very much stuck in time – almost like it released in the same year as the previous game, and never really managed to dig itself out of the decade old pit of classic action-adventure titles. It is a game frozen in time, meant to be consumed in no other way, and offers one of the most memorable and enjoyable detective experiences this side of York.
|Time Played||<25 Hours|
|Acquisition||Review copy courtesy of Nintendo|