Deadly Premonition is one of those titles that has a real cult following but didn’t manage to avoid the ire of the AAA journalists. It ended up in a spotlight it was never designed for due to its quirky story and janky graphics. Despite this reception, it was followed by the release of Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing In Disguise in 2020 on Nintendo Switch. Two years later, it suddenly shadow dropped on Steam.
Should Have Stayed Hidden
Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise sees Federal Agent Francis Zach Morgan being interrogated by two other federal agents while he is in a rather decrepit state. This is set years after his reawakening in Deadly Premonition 1 and the years have clearly taken a toll on ol’ Zach.
The narrative soon jumps into the past. It shows Zach as his more iconic, coffee-loving, film-quoting, goofy self and asking everyone to call him “York”. We see him as he skateboards his way around Le Carre, a New Orleans-inspired town trying to solve the murder mystery he has had the good fortune of walking into.
Unfortunately, the story moves at a painfully glacial pace in the ‘past’ sections. The ‘present’ offers a much tastier mystery for the most part only dished out in much smaller portions.
Rather than taking its inspiration from David Lynch’s masterpiece Twin Peaks like the first game, there is more than a smattering of True Detective similarities flying across the board. But fear not, SWERY’s quirky sense of humor and macabre are still more than present.
While the story does have ties to the original Deadly Premonition, I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s essential to know what happened.
Do You Hear That? My Fairy
None of the characters has the charm of those in the original title, bar the Hotel Manager/Chef/Bell Boy who suffers an almost charming amount of multiple personality syndrome. The rest of the cast falls into either badly written or cliché riddled.
There was some controversy when Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise was initially released involving the handling of a transgender character. While some changes have been made, Zach still, unfortunately, breaks out a few racially stereotypical accents throughout and the writing as a whole deals with some of the heavier subjects with the subtle touch of the Incredible Hulk on steroids.
Ultimately, though I found myself playing through this title both on Switch and then later PC purely out of my love of Zach/York as a character. Thankfully SWERY didn’t change him all too much!
The Sum of all Fears
Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing In Disguise is a 3rd Person survival horror lite. While it shares some mechanics with titles such as Resident Evil 4, there are also chunks of survival and almost visual novel elements in there.
To tackle the latter first, all the ‘present’ sections in which Zach is being interviewed regarding his past with the Le Carre case and those pesky Red Leaves, play out more like a visual novel. The sections can last upwards of an hour and require you to ask Zach questions and push him on stuff you feel is relevant to the case and/or get a reaction from this eccentric ex-agent.
Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should
The next part of the game is the 3rd Person free roam exploration part of the title. It’s here you’ll be spending the majority of your time as York Morgan makes his way around the locale and locals of Le Carre. Unlike the previous title, you get around town using a Skateboard. Throughout the story, you’ll learn tricks such as Ollie and Kickflip but don’t expect a full-blown Skating sim. I much preferred the immersion from the original game where you had to keep your vehicle gassed and could use windscreen wipers and indicators. It felt much easier to fall into the role of York, instead of goofily skating around town in a suit.
Here you’ll be keeping York in good health by making him wash, eat, sleep and not stay out all night because he can catch a cold. Cigarettes allow you to skip to certain times of the day – very essential when it comes to knocking off the horde of side quests that you’ll get bombarded with.
In regards to what you can do out in the world, this again has taken a step back from the original. Where you could look into every house in the first title, only certain houses can be interacted with in Le Carre, and the residents are rarely seen out and about doing their day-to-day routine. There are mini-games such as bowling and target practice, but the world feels much shallower in the sequel and it’s honestly quite damaging to the overall product.
The side quests in Deadly Premonition 2 have you helping out the residents of the town. These are usually fetch quests or “kill X amount of wildlife/ghosts” and never feel more than filler. Rather than fleshing out the residents, you just feel like you’re ticking a box for pointless rewards. Sadly a lot of the main story quests also follow the same structure, and it greatly harms the pacing of the game.
Fighting With Myself
Finally, we come to the combat. Would you believe me if I said they managed to make this aspect worse than one of the most commonly criticized aspects in the original game? It’s almost impressive the level of doubling down on this aspect and makes me question why they even bothered shoehorning it in.
Much like the original, the combat uses an over-the-shoulder style. It’s similar to Resident Evil 4, but on a budget. Instead of different guns, York wields a gun hand-made from a tree. You can alter how this fires at the Voodoo shrines around Le Carre, but ultimately you can cruise through the game with the bare-bones basic shot.
While the hand-made gun only appears in the “nightmare” sections of the game, York is given a pistol that fires rubber bullets when in the real world. It operates the same, only you can’t upgrade it in the same way as the hand-made and I hated it even more.
The “Nightmare” sections involve you exploring bland areas such as a warehouse, doused in a red hue, and fighting ghost clowns that scream the most grating noise every time they are killed. I never thought I’d long for the days of backward-walking zombies who wanted to climb into my mouth, but here we are.
The uninspired areas, the one-note combat, and the overall clunk of it all made me hate whenever combat was necessary. Despite it not being the most robust in the previous game, the weapon variety and locations were at least entertaining. Here, it’s just bad.
Visually Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise has gone for a more “cel-shaded” look. This gives it a cartoon vibe, instead of looking like an outdated PS2 title. While not looking bad, I was hoping for a little more charm with the new visual style, and that sadly never came. Animations are more awkward than ever, and the open world and “nightmare” sections just look bland. The only time the game smacks of interest is during the ‘present’ sections where it’s mostly dialogue.
The game thankfully has a much smoother performance on PC than its release on the Nintendo Switch. Even post-patch, that version just about borders on “playable with enough tolerance”. The frame rate sticks around 30fps but is much more consistent which makes getting around the open world less of a chore than it was originally.
The voice acting is the usual campy affair you’d expect from a Swery jam. It’s somewhat endearing at times, but as mentioned does run into issues when York decides to do some accents which border offensive.
Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise has quite an ironic title considering it just made me appreciate what a flash in the pan the original title was. Everything in this sequel is a step or more back and despite that intoxicating SWERY quirk, this title just isn’t enjoyable.
I don’t think I’d be able to recommend that anyone plays this game. Fans of the original and SWERY enthusiasts may get a few kicks from it, but in my humble opinion, this ranks as his worst work and feels as bad as the consensus about Deadly Premonition 1 is.
DEADLY PREMONITION 2 IS NOT RECOMMENDED
Many thanks goes to Rising Star Games for a PC review code for this title.
Support High-Quality And Detailed Coverage
Want to support the cost of us bringing you these articles or just buy us a coffee for a job well done? Click the Ko-fi button below. You can even find some digital goodies in our shop~!
Pride of utopia & greatest thing ever, I found the One Piece, Collected the Dragon Balls & won the Mortal Kombat Tournament in one night, it was quiet for me that night! Follow me on Twitter @powahdunk