Given the cult status of Deadly Premonition, releasing over a decade ago back in 2010 for X360 & PS3, it is something a surprise to see a prequel-sequel after all this time. Having something of a rocky start when it launched on Nintendo Switch a couple of years ago, Deadly Premonition 2 is now available for PC. A mystery worth solving? Lets take a look.
Everyone’s favourite FBI Agent Francis York, just call him York, makes a return for this prequel of sorts. The game opens up with an old York, long after the bureau and being interrogated by other FBI agents Davis and Jones, before the story heads into a previous case set prior to the events of the original game – complete with a new town to experience in La Carre, Louisiana. There’s a stronger narrative presence here, the opening hour for example barely has any interactivity, and this carries over to the rest of the game with frequent lengthy dialogue. It’s no necessarily a bad thing given this means more depth to the characters and overall story throughout the game.
Personally I wasn’t as gripped this time around, not through the want of trying either, with the game seeming a bit goofier and less mysterious than the original. The quirky cast were certainly enjoyable and the side quests that help you get to know them better are worth it, the main story itself is great even, but other aspects of the game have a detrimental effect on the pacing unfortunately. It also seems to try too hard to be Deadly Premonition, and while not necessarily a bad thing, it could have spread its wings more often given its a sequel.
When I use the term Switch port here to describe the presentation, I’m not kidding. The game has effectively been ported over with nary a setting to tweak, so most of the visual issues with the Switch version are also apparent here. Low grade shadows, somewhat empty town, pop-in, janky animations, just to name are few, are still all present here as if you’d simply just docked your Switch. The minor cel-shading present does help to masks some of these issues, but that can only do so much.
It sounds like there’s not much to save it on PC, but there are a couple. While it doesn’t go any higher annoyingly, the game does at least now offer full HD resolution, but the real blessing is in framerate. DP2 on Switch was notorious for its woeful performance, but here you can have a blissful 60fps with ease. The fans didn’t spin up on my GPU meaning my PC (R7 3800X/16GB/RTX 2080ti) didn’t even break a sweat given all it has to do is run a Switch port at 1080/60 – wouldn’t surprise me if even the Steam deck does a better job than the ol’ Switch.
Mods may improve on this in future, but it’s also worth pointing out that there is currently no keyboard & mouse controls for this game – you’ll need a controller to play.
You’ll certainly feel a little deja-vu if you’ve played the original, as the general premise of solving a murder mystery in a small town carries over to the sequel. Most of your time will be spent skateboarding around town trying to catch folk in their daily routine. In addition to the time of day from before, we now have a day of the week system. It sounds great in theory but if your appointment is several days away then you gotta keep yourself busy till then. Luckily, outside of skateboarding around and learning some new tricks, you can also take York on several side activities to pass the time or jobs for items and know-how.
When not sleuthing you may find yourself having to defend against various foes. Around town you can end up being attacked by the wildlife such as squirrels and alligators, but at night is when the spooky enemies can turn up during action sections. These sections play out like a slightly janky Resi as you can now move around when aiming unlike the original. Instead of having an arsenal of weapons like before, you’ll predominately be using talismans to customise your gun this time. Its a neat idea as you can customise it to fit a situation or what feels best for you, even if that does mean weapon variety is less than the original game.
Deadly Premonition 2 is good, but also a little disappointing. It tries to stick to the original formula so much that you end up wishing it would spread its wings a little and try something new – the narrative at least takes some interesting directions at times. The PC port thankfully does away with the performance woes of the Switch and tops out at 1080/60, which also helps with the improved action aspects of the gameplay, but is relatively barebones otherwise.
As a fan of the original Deadly Premonition it does enough for me to enjoy a new adventure with York, but it may leave newcomers wondering what all the fuss is about.
An unexpected sequel to a cult favourite that doesn’t try to stand on its own too much.