REVIEW: ‘Deadly Premonition 2’ Is Another Janky Cult Classic In The Making (Switch)

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Deadly Premonition 2

Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise is a hot mess. Developer Toybox has brought their vision to the Nintendo Switch and crafted a game where the story is completely off the wall, it runs like it’s in the first few days of an alpha build, and the characters all seem like they’re in on the joke. Given that this is the sequel to the Guinness World Record holder for the most critically polarizing survival horror game, I expected no less from this installment. The original Deadly Premonition was released a decade ago on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and has garnered a cult following for its extreme levels of so-bad-its-good and the sequel could very well be what those fans have been waiting for since the original. Everyone else, though, will have a hard time getting passed the clunky dialogue and the abysmal frame rate. Which is a shame because there is a lot of fun to be had. Even if it is a mixture of laughing with it and, more often than not, at it.

The story is part sequel and part prequel and once again follows FBI Special Agent Francis York Morgan. This time he ventures to the fictional Louisiana town of Le Carré in the year 2005 to solve the grisly murder of a wealthy socialite. Each chapter is bookended with scenes that take place in 2019 where York, who goes by Francis Zach Morgan in this time, is being questioned by another FBI agent, named Aaliyah Davis, about his involvement with the events that took place during his time in Le Carré. These segments drag on for far too long and quickly overstay their welcome, but things certainly change a lot once you transition to the open world of Le Carré.

As with the first game, one of the main draws of Deadly Premonition 2 is it’s cast of colorful characters who are all just complete caricatures that are hard to believe that a real human being wrote. Our lead, for instance, York, is an absolute dweeb. Instead of driving around Louisiana, he rides a skateboard while humming the extremely repetitive tune from the original game. When he isn’t chain-smoking, he’s rambling on about random movie trivia that no one asked to hear. And that’s just our central character. I haven’t even gotten to the mystical skeleton who speaks to York through mirrors that gives him riddles to solve that pertain to clues to the murder of the hotel manager who is just one man doing different voices and pretending to be the various personnel tending to the hotel. Everyone is weird in this town and it’s honestly part of the charm. Every time a new character was introduced I was excited to see their quirk or eccentricity. It’s one of the bright spots of the experience.

You can’t talk about this game without talking about its performance. Or even the lack thereof in some cases. When you’re indoors, things tend to run rather smoothly except for a few load screens that make you wonder if the game froze. Things go completely off the rails though when you step outside into the streets of Le Carré. The frame rate is abysmal to the point where it’s like watching a slideshow of in-game screenshots. Everything from pedestrians to trees will just materialize in front of you as you’re skateboarding around as if the game is struggling to keep up with every move you’re making. The first Deadly Premonition runs like a dream comparatively and that was hanging on by a string most of the time. These issues are present whether you’re playing in docked or handheld mode so there is no escape from it.

Deadly Premonition 2

There are so many mechanics in this game and even more than just come out of left field. There are the third-person shooting segments where you have to clunkily takedown rejected Silent Hill-style enemies who don’t pose much of a threat. There are even boss fights that are even weirder with enemies that look like something out of Full Metal Alchemist. It comes completely out of nowhere the first time and never gets much of an explanation, but I was too enthralled by all of it to care that I wasn’t getting one.

During York’s investigation, you analyze and arrange your clues to figure out the next big break in the mystery. If you want to play a rock-skipping mini-game or do some bowling, you can do that. At one point I got into a fistfight with a gang of squirrels that were terrorizing a couple and then got chased on my skateboard by a crocodile. The weirdest thing that happened by far was when I discovered the body odor mechanic that comes into play after you don’t shower for two in-game days. At this point, flies begin to circle York and if you interact with any NPCs you receive a B.O. fine until you can shower and remove the status effect. The game somehow does a lot and not enough at the same time and it’s honestly impressive.

Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise is a difficult game to quantify. On one hand, it’s a marvel that it’s running at all sometimes and very frequently feels like it’s going to make my Switch explode. It often gets bogged down by some truly ambitious but poorly realized decisions and mechanics. And then, on the other hand, it is exactly what a sequel to Deadly Premonition should be. Beyond all of its hang-ups is a decent mystery with some really fun moments if you can embrace it’s issues the way the game does. It’s not trying to be The Last of Us Part II or a nuanced mystery in the vein of something like the early seasons of True Detective. It knows what it is and leans into the things that made the first game a cult classic.

Ultimately, I had a lot of fun during my time with Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise after I was able to shut my brain off and simply go along for the janky skateboard ride through Le Carré. I found it to be charming and maybe I’m just a mark for garbage games, but I can see this having the same life as it’s predecessor if people decide to give it a shot and embrace this insane mystery.

Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise is available now on the Nintendo Switch

Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise
  • 6/10
    Rating - 6/10
6/10

TL;DR

Ultimately, I had a lot of fun during my time with Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise after I was able to shut my brain off and simply go along for the janky skateboard ride through Le Carré. I found it to be charming and maybe I’m just a mark for garbage games, but I can see this having the same life as it’s predecessor if people decide to give it a shot and embrace this insane mystery.