Hoo boy. Here we go. Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise, the sequel I can’t recall anyone asking for, is now available on Nintendo Switch, and I had the honor of playing it.
I never played Deadly Premonition myself, but I’d seen it on many YouTube videos and had garnered the gist of it, so when offered Deadly Premonition 2 I had an idea of what I was in for. I love myself a so-bad-its-good movie, and I’ve played through every ending of Hatoful Boyfriend. I am no stranger to strange.
For those five of you out there unaware of it’s predecessor, Deadly Premonition was released 10 years ago for the Xbox 350 and PlayStation 3. It received mixed reviews on launch, but proceeded to garner a cult following, with it’s bizarre story, and allusions to Twin Peaks, an American surreal mystery horror drama television series created by Mark Frost and David Lynch from the early 90s.
And now Francis York Morgan is back. And there’s another young girl’s murder to solve!
We begin in 2019, with FBI Agent Aaliyah Davis interrogating Morgan about his handling of a case in 2005. You play as Agent Davis, until you probe him enough to divulge details of the case. That’s when you find yourself in the bulk of the gameplay, 2005 Francis York Morgan, in the fictional town of Le Carré, Louisiana. We travel back to the “present” between each chapter, of which there are 4.
Despite the 10 years between the games, there is in no way a huge overhaul graphically to be found here. I felt I was in the era of games of 2005, instead of just being in a story set there. It is buggy, the animations aren’t the smoothest, and the skateboard sounds. Oh, have I not mentioned the skateboard yet? York doesn’t have a car anymore. It was stolen. So now he travels around town on a skateboard. And the sound of that skateboard hurts my ears every time I use it. It is loud, and sounds like a skateboard from a low budget early 2000’s game, but also the most convenient way to travel around town, with seamless transition between grass and gravel, and low low cost of zero dollars to use.
A fast travel system is unlocked part way through the first chapter, the Y-Vern Uber-knockoff company that ferries you between ballooned hot spots. I say knockoff, but Uber didn’t yet exist in the setting in which Y-Vern exists – and the game is well aware of that fact. Setting itself so far into the past, the game makes cultural references with a sense of omnipotence, such as York stating that he knows Forest Whitaker’s next roll would get him an Oscar win – Whitaker received an Oscar in 2007. These lines contribute to the sense that it is trying too hard. While Deadly Premonition was The Room of bad video games, A New Beginning feels like the Sharknado. Something intentionally made terrible. Cashing in on the fact that they’re aware of Deadly Premonition’s reputation of being strange, and bad. But Deadly Premonition was known for it’s cultural references, with York continually referencing 80s movies with precision, which is back in this installment.
There are main quests, side quests, and requests that you can receive from a bulletin board at the Sheriff’s office. You receive hints regarding the main quests from Houngan, a Baron Samedi like figure you speak to through a painting, and you are accompanied by the young daughter of the local sheriff. The main quests are straightforward enough, but the side quests can be pretty varied, and sometimes obtuse. One of the first you can get require you to fetch specific ingredients for the woman who owns the diner. When I’m sent for rice, I expect to get it from a store, or a rice field, not at the side of a river. There are also mini games, such as bowling, and rock skipping. Yup. Rock skipping. That’s been my favourite so far.
The premonitions of the title are gateways into an Otherworld, where you shoot strange creatures and use otherworldly detective abilities to help solve what happened in the case at hand. Like in Deadly Premonition, the Otherworld blends into our world between midnight and 6am, meaning the creatures can attack you at any point in the real world, except inside buildings.
Other features that return are the time mechanic, with certain places or people only being available during certain times or days of the week, and the ability to pass time while smoking a cigarette.
Honestly, there is so much to this game, and I’ve only completed chapter one. There are “rewards” that work a bit like trophies or achievements in-game that reward you more money when you complete them and a stamp for your stamp collection. There are 400 of them. Yes, 400. I’ve gotten 5.
Do you like 80s movies references, creepy kooky characters, and laughing at things that are bad? Then not only will I think you will enjoy this game, then I think we could also be friends. Call me Fox, that’s what everyone calls me. Also, watch out for squirrels.
The game includes a trans character, and at time of writing there has been controversy surrounding how this has been handled. I have not reached this part of the game as of yet, but felt it was important to mention. Lena Dauman, the character in question, is repeatedly dead-named and misgendered. The game’s director Hidetaka Suehiro — known casually as Swery – addressed this via Twitter, stating that the scenes will be “sanity checked by a team that included diversity,” and that he will rewrite the scene “ASAP”. Hopefully Lena gets the representation she deserves, though it is unknown at this time when the patch changing scenes involving her will come into effect.