Deadly Premonition 2 is the sequel that should have never happened, to the game that should have never happened. The odds have been stacked against this series from the start, but that’s what makes it endearing, isn’t that right Zach?.
Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise follows the story of everyone’s favourite “totally not Dale Cooper” FBI Special Agent Francis “York” Morgan, just call him York, everyone does. Instead of stomping around the Twin Peaks soaked Greenvale, York instead is working in a town in New Orleans called Le Carre in 2005. As this is Deadly Premonition 2 you also have York in 2018, sat in an apartment in Boston.
One thing that is apparent from the get go here is that there is a much stronger focus on narrative from the offset than that of its predecessor. This is evident especially being that the first hour is mostly dialogue presented in an almost D4 style.
The cast are the level of quirky and engaging as you would expect from a SWERY title, they all have an amazing level of hidden depth, especially as they are presented quite two dimensional to start with.
Graphically Deadly Premonition 2 is an odd beast. It’s not a great looking game and features a kind of weak Cel Shaded style to it. Fortunately it’s art direction strikes where it counts and it works for the title, much like the original. It will take a little while to get used to it but it does manage to, character models especially!.
Le Carre as an environment is narratively fantastic, York naturally has an insane reason for being there at the exact time of a murder, even if his story of HOW he got there is a little out there even for Deadly Premonition!.
Now in the actual game La Carre didn’t to me feel quite as lived in as Greenvale ever did. Be it engine limitations or a stylistic choice I couldn’t say but it was rare to see cars driving about or characters from the story doing the rounds, gone is the ability to “investigate” through windows allowing you a glimpse into personal lives like the original did.
Now while in the original game you had the choice of cars to get around, La Carre is a much smaller space so it makes sense for York to skateboard around the streets….. yeah Deadly Premonition sense that is. Throughout the game you can mod the skateboard and learn tricks but it is majorly endearing to see how much York enjoys Skateboarding and how much he strives to learn new tricks.
The free roam skateboarding also brings back the sections where York talks to Zack, sometimes about what’s going on in the story & sometimes about films and pop culture, unlike the original, dialogue does tend to repeat instead of York just making a sound or asking what’s wrong. It can grate on the ears after some time.
Naturally the world of La Carre has plenty of side quests for York to dive into, while none of them are revolutionary in content (kill x, find x) much like the first game they offer little extra parts to each character’s story, plus money and items which are always nice. The main issue with the side quest system is they can sometimes be insanely cryptic, only finished on certain days and there are no waypoints to direct you. Another aspect is that despite offering you some extra insight, it never feels important or connected, making the cast and setting of Le Carre seem disconnected and irrelevant to the main narrative.
Deadly Premonition 2 also carries the tradition of having survival elements, York will get hungry, get tired, stink to high heaven and even contract a cold throughout your escapades in the big easy. These systems don’t really add to the game and seem born out of the need to be like Deadly Premonition rather than having any meaningful weight.
A key example is early on you’ll start to stink, you go to shower and it breaks. You are then handed a choice, keep buying deodorant or tackle an obscure side quest which adds nothing but time to your save file and a few items.
Mini games have seen a little more expansion in this sequel, you can skim rocks, experience Skateboarding courses, target practise on the bayou or even take up bowling, York has a natural talent y’see.
Another addition to the game is that not only is there a time system, there is also a day system which affects the world around you. Certain quests and activities will only trigger on certain days, while this helps immersion and allows for planning, it also can kill the story pacing as certain beats will only trigger on certain days.
The day system would have been a much great addition had the weather system not been stripped out of the game OR the cast were easier to follow through the day and had different schedules to follow. As it stands the week system mainly just screws up the pacing if you tackle a quest on the wrong day.
Combat has seen an update, it feels closer to that of Resident Evil 4 now, allowing for movement during aiming. Don’t worry it’s still janky and awkward, just a little less and this makes for more entertaining boss battles and they truly are something in this title!.
The enemies are slightly more imaginative this time but somehow lacked any punch the original had. During the day you’ll face squirrels, bees, wolves and alligators, during the night and “action sections” you’ll face red ghost clowns that howl “SNNAAAAFFFFFF” when disposed of using your tree/gun hand….. Deadly Premonition as usual folks!.
You’ll craft talismen to change the gun, make it faster or explode on impact, while the original wasn’t the best in the combat department either, the weapon variety was far greater than what is on offer here.
Deadly Premonition 2 feels at odds with itself self, sometimes this works in the wonderfully quirky SWERY way, such as stopping an investigation to skip stones, other times the engine isn’t doing justice to the open world that you’re told is a close nit community. Given the task of killing 30 of something without any real weight to it or fun side quests with absolutely no direction.
Everything feels like it’s trying too hard to be Deadly Premonition. The characters are mainly quirky and two dimensional and regrettably forgettable. The location could be fantastic but it feels more like dressing than a place with its own identity and lore.
York himself seems unbelievably goofy in this entry rather than the mysterious, tone deaf brilliant agent, he’s constantly spouting movie trivia, copies accents and rides a skateboard across the country because it’s funny?
Now it may be known that this review was delayed by quite some time. Initially the game released in a frankly unplayable state. Framerate that would induce nausea, save corruption, crashing, HUD disappearing, you think of an error, this game seemingly had it. The current build it 1.03 and so far it is a vast improvement.
The game still chugs along but has a much better and consistent framerate, no crashes as of yet, sadly other errors have happened so it’s still not the smoothest of experiences but it is at least, functional now.
In all honesty this game has been a nightmare to review. I pride myself on being honest and to the point with my reviews yet this title has me stumped. I’ve played enough SWERY to know “whats what”, to a point Deadly Premonition 2 is just more quirky FBI adventures. I can’t excuse the performance, ports aside (I personally only ran into 1 glitch on Origins) where quality was quite low, the original 360 release of Deadly Premonition laps this title in stability.
Graphically I like aspects of it but I also detest how the NPCs look, how the animals animate and how boxes that fall from UFOs just sink into the road. I adore the new enemy designs, the stubtle facial animations in cutscenes and the hotel lobby is outstanding.
The story I feel takes a great leap and pushes what you may already know that little further, but then stumbles with awkward pacing brought in by the Week System and Fetch Quest styled padding.
I in equal parts, love and hate Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise. The game has this sticking duality in that sometimes it genuinely feels like Deadly Premonition 2, othertimes it feels like it tries to get back on the name and forcebly tries to be Deadly Premonition 2 giving it an almost imposter feel.
Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing In Disguise is a unique experience that much like the original will garner an impassioned cult following. Within my first 10 hours I actually told my colleague that the game feels inspired slightly by another piece of media that I didn’t appreciate until experiencing again and reflecting on it, Twin Peaks: The Return. Hopefully reflection will be just as kind, fingers crossed Zack!.
A disappointing sequel covered in imposter syndrome. Pains me to score this game as such, sorry Zack
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