Deadly Premonition was a flawed game, especially on a technical basis where some often clunky controls and an inconsistent performance could make it feel very dated in design. Despite this, it earned the love of gamers worldwide, with the charming cast of characters, quirky narrative, and plentiful nods to popular culture (in particular Twin Peaks and B-Movies) certainly helping it offer an experience that felt utterly unique and, for the most part, pretty compelling too.
Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise, the unexpected but incredibly appreciated sequel, follows that trend once again, with a bizarrely brilliant narrative and world joined by an abundance of technical flaws. It’s something gamers had actually come to expect ahead of release, though the severity of the issues here will possibly prove a little unbearable for even the most dedicated of Deadly Premonition fans.
The narrative of Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise is a little bit more complicated than its predecessor, with the tale split across two different time periods: one that takes place in the present and one that takes place before the events of the first game.
The present-day narrative sees series protagonist Agent York facing questioning from two FBI agents, with a case from his earlier days seemingly linked to a current murder. In re-telling his experience with this case, players are taken back to 2005 and get to play it out for themselves and see events unfold first-hand as he pursues a serial killer in the seemingly idyllic town of Le Carré. You know what this means? More of Agent York’s unusual murder-solving methods and plenty of interactions with Zach, his ‘other’ personality.
I don’t want to dive too much into the narrative because honestly, it’s so weird and full of kooky twists-and-turns that players will just want to experience it all for themselves. The colourful cast of characters (who are somehow bigger oddballs than those found in the first game) make for some memorable moments in-game, with each conversation shared with some of the more peculiar inhabitants of Le Carré guaranteed to bring plenty of smiles to player’s faces. It’s all strung together with some writing that manages to be gripping, hilarious, awkward, and cringey all at the same time, with Agent York once again proving to be an eccentrically wonderful protagonist that doesn’t always act in a manner that would be considered normal. Basically, if you enjoyed the tale of its predecessor, Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise will keep you hooked in from start to finish with its wacky but wonderful storytelling… it certainly doesn’t disappoint there.
One thing that players may have seen a lot of in promotional footage and screenshots for the game is that York now gets around through the unconventional (yet somewhat fitting) means of riding a skateboard. He hasn’t got a very good track record as far as his vehicle is concerned when making his way into new towns, after crashing his car in the original game and having it stolen here – fortunately, the skateboard proves a more than effective alternative means of transport and actually feels a hell of a lot better to control than the awful driving segments of the previous game. Add to that the inclusion of a fast-travel system and it becomes easy to see that simply exploring your surroundings is a lot more intuitive in Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise.
However, it’s when exploring Le Carré on your skateboard that you’ll begin to notice one of the biggest problems with the game: its shambolic framerate. The original game was by no means technically impressive and to go into its sequel with high expectations would certainly be considered naïve, but Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise feels close to unplayable at times thanks to the frequency of these stutters. The game will come to a momentary halt on occasions too, which feels incredibly disorientating when you’re simply trying to navigate the world. Unfortunately, the hiccups even occur during the most basic of gameplay moments too, though not to the severity of that seen when trawling through Le Carré’s streets.
Add to that some frequent long loading times that’ll leave you waiting close to a minute on occasions, a lot of pop-in despite Le Carré offering a fairly vacant world, and even some bugs that’ll force you to re-load your save in order to progress, and it soon becomes pretty clear that Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise could’ve done with a bit more time in development just to iron out the abundance of issues that it has.
If you can look past the technical flaws (and there are plenty of occasions where the game will play just fine), Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise offers just about everything that a fan of the original could want from a sequel. Besides the top quality narrative and writing, there are plenty of side quests to complete, mini-games to dive into, instances of combat against both local wildlife and the surreal creatures from the ‘otherworld’, and, of course, profiling for the player to indulge in. Naturally, there’s nothing about these things that is overly great or necessarily deep in design (as is the nature of Deadly Premonition), but they offer more of the same gameplay that players enjoyed in the original. A lot of it has actually been improved upon too, with the combat proving more accessible than before and exploration a lot more condensed so that you won’t find yourself on stupidly long trips between each objective marker.
There’s still no denying that Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise won’t be for everyone though and if you’re playing the game based entirely upon word of mouth or because you’ve seen that it has a cult following online… well… you may be left wondering what all of the fuss is about. It’s definitely a niche game and its weirdness won’t be appreciated by all. Personally, I loved the original game and I even managed to have a good time here, regardless of all of the technical issues that plague the experience. Sure, the gameplay is still mighty flawed and it can all be a bit repetitive in places, but it doesn’t stop the game from simply oozing in charm and offering a mystery that I genuinely wanted to get to the bottom of.
Players who weren’t along for the ride in the original and who expect an experience that actually works like a modern game should? You might want to steer clear of Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise, at least until a patch is released to fix its slew of problems.
Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise is oozing in the quirky charm that made the original game so beloved by fans, but some obvious technical issues make it very difficult to recommend. The stuttering frame rate is diabolical in places, the loading times are frequent and long, whilst game-breaking bugs are quite common too, forcing the player to re-play sections all over again because they had to re-load their save.
It’s a shame too because there really is something special here underneath all of the issues. The narrative is as engrossing as ever, the world is full of quirky and wonderfully written characters, whilst the gameplay has also seen an improvement over the original game. it manages to capture the spirit of its predecessor perfectly and returning fans will certainly be satisfied by this new escapade with Agent York – or they would be if they weren’t competing with SO many technical faults along the way.
It is possible to enjoy Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise despite these flaws and it does have its moments where it’ll play just fine, but I’d definitely recommend waiting for a patch to address a lot of its issues before diving into this weird, wonderful, but ultimately broken adventure.
Publisher: Rising Star Games
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch