Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing In Disguise
Ten years ago, working at a Gamestop, I remember seeing a game hit our shelves that featured a stock image on the cover, with a wonky looking premise. Being a budget title, I gave it a go and ended up finding one of the most enjoyable titles I had ever played. That game was Deadly Premonition. While the game certainly had flaws, it delivered such a quirky, warm atmosphere with layered characters throughout for an unforgettable experience. Fast forward to today and we are lucky enough to get a sequel. Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise is an attempt to continue the story for the first, without hopefully damaging the integrity of the original game. Does it accomplish its mission? Let’s find out.
The story of A Blessing in Disguise takes place nearly 15 years after the events after the original trek through Greenvale. I would go into current details, but those would be spoilers. What I can say is most of this title is indeed a look into Agent York’s case before that madness, as more of a telling – rather than a present experience.
The player encounters new characters such as a spunky little girl and a bowling widow as York attempts to solve yet another murder case while the killer remains active. While the first title was a bit over the top in terms of a fantasy-horror narrative, Deadly Premonition 2 takes that and escalates it by ten, providing one of the most charming and bizarre set of stories that still manage to fit in this quirky setting. I think my biggest worry with this sequel is that the first title was going to be a one-off and this was more of a quick attempt to show some fan service from SWERY. Thankfully, there is just as much of that atmosphere, personality, and overall oddness that makes this game hard for me to dislike, as the dialogue sequences are very enjoyable, providing depth to an already layered narrative.
This is the part that will make or break most players. Deadly Premonition 2 runs at a low framerate when you are not doing anything of importance a good portion of the time, and that can make actions like shooting and trying to escape enemies feel a bit cumbersome. It is so odd how I get a bit miffed when other titles do this, but because it just feels like part of the scenery here – I can and will make an exception as I really was never bothered by slowdown. The game is not broken, it is just a bit rough, just like the first. Maybe that kind of adds the madness of the narrative, but I am keen to say it isn’t really a takeaway.
Your main goals are completed in an open world setting, where players must rely on the game’s clock to complete these missions, with plenty of silly side quests and other findings smothered throughout. That clock in the last game was more for side missions as the NPCs all followed routine in Greenvale. Here, they still do, but now more story missions utilize it, so one may need to sleep or do something to pass time before being able to move forward. This is my only complaint with this sequel. I feel like some missions don’t do a good enough job at telling the player what times to show up, and let me tell you that clock is slow and while activities such as smoking and sleeping can pass time, having to get sleeping bags and cigarettes for York constantly while trying to knock out several quests at once can be tedious before fast travel eventually gets unlocked.
Enemies and battles generally feel the same as the first title, coming out more so at night to keep the player on a day schedule of sorts (unless you are in a driven story for said enemies). The mini-games such as bowling and skipping stones are a delight as well, and provide a fantastic incentive to level up York’s weapons and stats with the game’s own little crafting system. Hygiene and satisfying hunger are a bit more of a requirement here as well, so it is always a good idea to explore for food and so on while traversing this lovely little town.
The little things are really what makes this sequel feel special. We all remember that cars were hard to control in the first title, and now we have a skateboard that seems much more fluid to control due to the lack of size. It also matches the same color as your Joycon which is a wild feature. There are so many little references and surprises for players to find just like that, and it is great to see SWERY take feedback from the first title and build a bit of a sarcastic undertone with the sequel by highlighting those very shortcomings.
The visuals within Deadly Premonition 2 are really not too different from the first. Sure, you are not going to have something like The Last of Us II here, but you will get a better looking game than the first. The palette in the first game was a lot darker and kind of muddy, and visuals feel brighter overall here. Animations can get clunky due to that low frame-rate that plagues certain sections. While it isn’t crippling, it can be a bit humorous to see animals that seem to have three animations as a whole try to chase you or watch York run with too many enemies on the screen. It’s a mixed bag here, but nothing too hard to overcome.
The audio is magnificent. The soundtrack, voice acting, all of it. Everything ties in so well to this twisted little world that absolutely enhances its own personality. There is a lot more variation with music this time around, and York’s conversations with himself are sure to keep long treks across the landscape entertaining. There is repeated dialogue at times and I guess that can be a bit cumbersome to listen to, but again that is one thing that ties into the flawed Universe that almost makes us feel more at home.
They say lightning doesn’t strike twice. Maybe the first Deadly Premonition was an accident, or maybe it was just good enough for that cult following to remember. For that, I can say it can all be debunked. I think Deadly Premonition 2 displays SWERY’s capability to develop. There were so many times I had to stop and admire some kind of bizarre finding or listen closely to an intensely awkward sequence. Video games are a form of entertainment and to myself, this sequel delivers that entertainment non-stop, by deciding when narrative needs to control the experience or when the gameplay should overtake it. Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise is a success as it manages to keep that odd yet intriguing universe, expand upon it just a bit, and keep the player looking out of the corner of their eyes for that next thing that will give them a smile. I think gaming needs more titles that take these kinds of risks, but for now, York and friends and least have another tally to keep fans satisfied yet again for a generation.
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