Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise is utterly bizarre, a surreal and absurd mess of a game that captivates despite glaring issues that make it all too tedious all too often. In other words, it’s a successful follow-up to 2010’s Deadly Premonition.
Set in Boston and Louisiana, Deadly Premonition 2 follows two protagonists across two time periods. In 2019, FBI Agent Aaliyah Davis reopens a case involving Francis Zach Morgan, the hero of Deadly Premonition, arriving in Boston to interrogate the former FBI agent, whose life has fallen apart. Interspersed with this questioning are flashbacks to 2005, where the bulk of the game takes place, as Francis York Morgan (everyone calls him York) investigates the murder of a young girl in the small Louisiana town of Le Carré. This case has stark parallels to the events York would later investigate in the original game, and Aaliyah is determined to find out why the echoes of those crimes are reverberating all these years later.
Deadly Premonition 2 is part open world adventure, part survival horror, and completely bonkers. It mashes pop culture jokes and monologues about pizza with mutilated bodies, a southern gothic atmosphere, fetch quests, and third-person shooting. The combination is hilarious, often for the wrong reasons, but it’s that framework that turned Deadly Premonition into a cult classic a decade ago. What’s surprising is that this game doesn’t feel like it’s treading old ground; this is a proper sequel that captures what made its predecessor so enrapturing while crafting something new and surprising.
Where that surprise is lacking is in the survival horror segments. Deadly Premonition 2 offers one major improvement from Deadly Premonition 1 — you can now move and shoot — but otherwise plays similarly. Using an over-the-shoulder perspective, you’ll use your pistol to shoot at a handful of undead enemies who wander down tight wooden corridors and rooms that are uniformly the same. There is the ability to upgrade your gun through equipping craftable charms, but there is little variety to be found here. It is functional, albeit dated, and while these segments often feel like they go on for far too long, in practice they are mere blips in the road compared to the amount of time you’ll spend exploring the town of Le Carré.
And what a town it is. From a graphical perspective, it looks awful. It would not be out of place in a game from 2010. It has too many empty spaces, takes too long to cross, and it can be a chore to find a specific place you’re looking for. A horrid framerate drags things down further, and entering and exiting buildings will result in a long loading screen.
Yet Deadly Premonition’s greatest strength is Le Carré. It is filled with strange quests to complete, local wildlife to hunt, and occasional minigames like bowling and skipping stones to complete. At regular intervals, York has to eat, sleep, shower, and change clothes in order to prevent his statistics like stamina and health from decreasing, though this is relatively straightforward. To navigate it, York has access to a skateboard, which he has in lieu of a car and can be used to pull off ‘wallies’ on occasion. The skateboard handles well, though you will likely grow annoyed at how bumping into obstacles turns you around, and every time you ride it you will be treated to York talking to Zach about film, the current objective, or random topics like bridges. It is difficult not to laugh at the absurdity of all this.
Interacting with the town’s local residents and investigating the murder are one and the same, and each interaction is usually more bizarre than the last. Each character has their own daily and weekly schedule that they keep to, and figuring out who does what and when is the key to uncovering exactly what is so wrong and interesting about Le Carré. Why does the town bartender exclusively wear white cowboy boots, a white cowboy hat, and white underwear at all times? Why does the elderly lady bowling at the local diner pray to bowling angels? Why are the hotel concierge, chef, and busboy the same person, and why does he change accents for each role? Why does the proto-Uber driver look like an extra from The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, and why does she play Eurobeat every time you ride with her? Few of these questions are answered, and those that are spiral further into lunacy. Le Carré is insane, and the way that no one questions these oddities is great.
Yet these characters aren’t complete jokes. No matter how strange or ridiculous the people are, Deadly Premonition 2 treats everyone with a measure of respect that prevents them from devolving into caricatures. And when there are serious emotional beats in the narrative, it pays off wonderfully, with genuine tension rising out of strange imagery and dialogue. The tone varies wildly between farce and pathos, sometimes changing in the middle of a conversation, and it’s these dramatic swings that make exploring Le Carré worthwhile.
It’s the only reason why someone would put up with a framerate that regularly dips into the single digits and rarely goes higher than 20. The technical issues, from the framerate to texture pop-in, from floating water to enemies stuck on obstacles, are near constant. It’s impossible to not be reminded of them every minute, and they cause Deadly Premonition 2 to drag on and on. I’m not sure if I should be surprised that this is the case — Deadly Premonition had the same problems after all.
As bad as this is, it’s not enough to dissuade me from playing or recommending the game. Deadly Premonition 2 is so out there, so dedicated to crafting an experience that nothing has come close to recreating in a decade, that it’s weirdly admirable. I’m still thinking about it long after I’ve beaten it, and for those who fell in love with the original, the sequel is everything you’re looking for. And for those who haven’t experienced this game yet, give it a shot — you might be surprised by what you’d find. Deadly Premonition 2 is consistently entertaining despite its faults, and I had a great time playing it.
In summation, this game truly is a blessing in disguise, isn’t that right Zach?