Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise Review – Not This Time Zach

    Title: Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise
    Developer: Toybox
    Release Date: July 10, 2020
    Reviewed On: Switch
    Publisher: Rising Star Games
    Genre: Adventure, Action

Everyone has seen at least one movie that is “so bad it’s good.” Films such as The Room have become cult classics based merely on how unbelievably bad they are. While I’ve known about these kinds of movies for years, this style wasn’t really represented in video games; that was until I first played Deadly Premonition.

Deadly Premonition first rose to infamy in 2010 when it shocked players with one of the most bizarre experiences on consoles. It wasn’t hugely successful, but it garnered a sizable cult following that has been begging for a sequel for years.

After ten years of waiting, we’ve finally been graced with Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise. Let me tell you, if you thought the first Deadly Premonition was a trip, you haven’t seen nothin’ yet.

Deadly Premonition 2 is both a sequel and a prequel. The bulk of the story takes place in 2005 following FBI agent Francis York Morgan. York travels to the town of Le Carré to investigate the mysterious murder of town-heiress Lise Clarkson and quickly realizes that there may be a supernatural cause behind it. This main plot is bookmarked by scenes from 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts, following FBI agent Aaliyah Davis as she investigates the Clarkson case.

Deadly Premonition 2’s story is every bit as insane as the first game. The entire experience feels akin to watching a David Lynch film: very little makes sense, yet you’re somehow willing to accept it. Though I can’t say I was a fan of how many strange, nonsensical curveballs the story threw my way, I was admittedly always interested in experiencing what would happen next.

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The absurdity found in the story is backed by a host of genuinely terrible voice performances. These performances are painful to listen to most of the time, but there were moments where a bad line paired with a lousy performance made me burst out into laughter.

This is where anything resembling praise for Deadly Premonition 2 disappears. Aside from the (unintentionally hilarious) plot, there is nothing redeeming about this game. Almost everything about it is terrible, and the plot is certainly not worth putting up with every hindering factor the gameplay throws your way.

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I honestly can’t believe that Deadly Premonition 2 is a game that was released in 2020. It has some of the worst graphics I have seen on a modern system, as seen in the textures of the environment that are incredibly pixelated and blurry. Things are continually popping into existence as you make your way through this world and, even when they do show up, they look terrible.

Character models don’t look awful at first glance, but it’s clear that they are placed on very simple rigs. Whenever characters move, they look like robots attempting to blend in as humans. Not even the non-human monsters York encounters look good. When I say everything in Deadly Premonition 2 looks like a slightly high-res version of a GameCube launch game, I mean it.

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Technical glitches feel like a normal part of the gameplay. It is incredibly rare to have a few minutes of gameplay where everything runs smoothly. Most instances of gameplay in Deadly Premonition 2 are marred with frequent frame-rate drops and visual bugs. It felt as if I was playing an Alpha build as opposed to its full release. Why the developers didn’t just push back the release date and focus on cleaning these technical issues up is beyond me.

Although technical patches have been promised by the publisher, I don’t think that would be enough to save this game. Even if Deadly Premonition 2 ran at a perfect 60 frames-per-second, it would still be cursed with terrible gameplay. Time with Deadly Premonition 2 will be spent wandering around Le Carré doing “detective work.” The entire mission structure is haphazard as you click on things until York figures out what he needs to do next. Unless you really enjoy listening to these characters blabber about nonsense, chances are you won’t be very engaged by these moments.

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Deadly Premonition 2 comes across as if it is doing everything in its power to keep you from what you’d rather be doing. There’s an in-game clock that restricts you from doing certain events such as when I arrived at a mission and found out that I had to wait 20 in-game hours to start it. Thankfully, there are ways to progress time by resting at York’s hotel or smoking a pack of cigarettes. Sure, this mechanic works, but it’s so unnecessary, and I found myself getting angrier and angrier each time I was told I would need to come back later to start a mission.

Occasionally York will be forced to fight demons or animals roaming around Le Carré. As you might expect, combat is also very bare-bones and dull, with enemies dying incredibly quickly and posing very little threat. Even bosses are taken down with complete ease, removing any feeling of tension the game might have had going for it.

Perhaps the most enjoyable moments of gameplay that Deadly Premonition 2 has to offer are its “minigames.” There are certain places where York can do smaller tasks, such as bowling or skipping stones. These minigames were honestly the saving grace for this game, which is saying something because they aren’t perfect, but compared to the rest of the game, I was glad to be doing something else.

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Deadly Premonition 2 might be fun for a tiny group of gamers, but I had a terrible time drudging through it. The B-movie esque plot and narrative scenes can be enjoyable in a cringy sort of way, but everything from the graphics to the controls makes it insanely hard to enjoy. Instead of wasting 20 hours with this game, I’d say you’re better off just going back and replaying Deadly Premonition.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Jake Yoder

Lover of all things gaming, anime, film and theatre. Shonen anime/manga enthusiast.