It is often said that “second parts are never grand,” and while there are a handful of games that might disagree with this statement, it proves that designing a sequel is not an easy task. Any good sequel should at least begin to dissect what made the original so special and build on the strengths where possible. The first Deadly Premonition was already an odd one as it brought with it a very strange story. And although the game has managed to gather a good crowd of fans, it seems that the series may lose them with this game.
Deadly Premonition was very divided. There was a small group of players who quickly fell in love with a title that dared to rediscover certain elements of a social simulator in mid-2010 that had barely been seen since the Shenmue games. Greenvale flowed and took the game the time to allow you to gradually give a face and name to the residents. Not only that, but it also encouraged you to take advantage of their open world to explore them for yourself, so you could find out what their habits and routines were: you could discover that there was a group of friends who were at the same time every day the bar lingered and you could meet an apparently model man who spent every afternoon suspiciously at one of the city’s neighbors behind his wife’s back … Basically, a sense of true community was conveyed in which, like in any small town, anyone could be hiding your own secrets behind everyday make-up. This, along with a story and setting heavily inspired by Twin Peaks, the main character’s extraordinary charisma and the penetrating dialogues that gave rise to the most hilarious and surreal situations, immediately brought Deadly Premonition to cult status.
In the decade that has passed since the launch of the first game, there has been a significant evolution in indie games, increasingly occupying a larger percentage of the video game market. Coupled with this phenomenon, and as a cause or effect, the graphics engines are more scalable and the tools available to developers are increasingly cheaper and more accessible, so virtually any small team is able to produce video games with results that are technically or visually very worthy eyes. That is why it is difficult to justify that a title with the finish of this Deadly Premonition 2 will be released in mid-2020.
On the artistic level, a more pronounced approach to cell shading has been chosen, which can sometimes be very attractive, especially indoors, but the result is spoiled by the low resolution and the total absence of anti-aliasing. The low resolution of the textures and the problems arising from the insufficient viewing distance and the sudden appearance of objects on the screen. The problems don’t stop there and this awful visual part doesn’t serve to achieve stable performance, in fact the frame rate per second drops to depressing levels every time we stay on large terrain, creating frequent lag that can be terribly annoying and which make the movement and targeting irritating. The overly long loading times are the highlight of the game that the quality control shouldn’t have passed. And unfortunately the problem doesn’t stop there.
Deadly Premonition 2 leaves the northwestern United States and takes us to Le Carré, a fictional town near New Orleans. Not only does the plot change location, there is also a time jump, as we will be several years ahead of the Greenvale case to guide a young Francis York Morgan in investigating a case closely related to the events that happened occurred in the first game. In addition, we tell parallel events after the first part, giving us a game that serves as both a sequel and a prequel. Le Carré is a considerably less charismatic location than Greenvale. The map consists of a long succession of roads that we drive through with our scooter without hardly encountering another NPC or vehicle. The feeling is that you are walking through a desolate and lonely wasteland, a city built on clone structures with an alarming housing shortage that can be visited.
The reduced number of secondary characters contributes to this lack of life. The main cast of the first game, recreating an almost complete community, is reduced to a handful of characters. These characters are still as quirky and eccentric as you’d expect, and many of the game’s best moments stem from our interactions with them, but the routine dynamics of the first game have been almost completely eliminated. Most residents of Le Carré will simply show up on screen due to the requirements of the script or they will be nailed to the same point on the map for most of the day, waiting for us in case we need anything from them. Everything is more static, less stimulating and interesting.
These secondary missions are again part of the game extension, accompanied by a myriad of mini-games that fulfill their usefulness in providing variety and fun, although it is true that these missions are sometimes too unnecessary due to the too many assignments you have to fulfill. The side missions are more likely to breathe life into the otherwise strange rollercoaster of a main story. As for the first game, the quick time events are gone and the annoying action sequences are kept to a minimum in exchange for a better aiming system during combat. the side missions take a bit too long and especially the collectibles are sometimes in very strange places, as if they deliberately let you walk around to stretch time.
Sometimes it really seems like the creator just tried to simplify the game to finish the game faster. Elements have been cut out, the story offers less interesting characters and sometimes you can be presented with lengthy texts (the first hour is almost only text) that you expect this game to present a visual novel.
Perhaps this is the greatest of Deadly Premonition 2’s sins, that of having a story lost in artificially fattened dialogues, infused with exaggerated references to movies and elements of pop culture. Unfortunately, the balance between seriousness, surrealism and nail-biting moments that was so good in the first game is nowhere to be found. Even the main character sometimes comes across as irritating, which for many may be the death blow in a game.
All said, Deadly Premonition 2 is a failed sequel that totally loses the perspective of those elements that made the first part something special. Its history and high doses of fan service still retain enough charm to satisfy a good number of its most loyal fans, but many others will be disappointed to wait ten years for a product that is only inferior to its predecessor.
Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise is unfortunately less blessing, and more betrayal, than you might think. The game is substandard in too many areas to say that the series will appeal to new or old fans with this sequel.