Developer: Toybox Inc.
Publisher: Rising Star Games
Genre: Adventure, Action
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: Mature 17+ Blood and Gore, Use of drugs, Violence
Release Date: 10.07.2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
The elephant in the room
Let’s get straight down to brass tacks. The performance of Deadly Premonition 2 is nothing short of appalling. With a stuttering frame-rate, inaudible cutscenes, texture pop-in that begs the question as to why they even bothered adding the asset in at all and loading times so long you’ll be left wondering if the game has crashed. All of these equate to a game that is almost unplayable. The most important word in this paragraph? Almost.
‘Almost’ is the word which could be applied to every aspect of the latest release by Toybox Inc. Almost unplayable, almost too bizarre, and almost worth a purchase. It stands on its own as a game that you will truly love or hate. Whilst the original polarised the gaming community, this one doubles down on that to do it all over again – only this time, it feels much more intentional.
Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise is a sequel to Deadly Premonition that takes place in present-day Boston. Through unique storytelling, venture back in time to Le Carré and uncover the mysteries buried within the once peaceful town.Official website, 2020
It is worth prefacing this review by stating that I reviewed the original when it ‘stealth dropped’ after a Direct back in September 2019. At the time I had the following to say:
- What makes this TOYBOX title so divisive is a culmination of visual, sound and gameplay elements that often seem at odds with one another.
- The framerate, visual fidelity and sound quality all take a hit at various points in the game
- There is something oddly enjoyable about the experience as a whole. It is reminiscent of an era of gaming that was loved by so many, and it is a pertinent reminder of how far gaming has come
All three of those statements can, in some way, be applied to the sequel. By no means is it a blessing in disguise, but there are some moments to be savoured. It helps, however, that I had an inkling of what it would be about having played the original. If you put all predispositions as to what gaming is about in this modern era and free your mind from the constraints of expectation, you may just find something to enjoy. Most likely though? You’ll despise every minute of it.
I had my own deadly premonition back in 2019: ‘the sequel is going to have to offer much more to be a commercial success in 2020.’ Having played the game, observed social media, and considered fan feedback, it has become apparent to me that this game isn’t about commercial success. It’s about a particularly niche gaming experience that many fans out there know and love. It’s about giving those fans more of the same. I even saw die-hard fans stating that the incredibly poor frame-rate was likely intentional to recreate that same feeling a decade later. For a while, I had even started to believe it myself. It was only when publishers, Rising Star Games, indicated that they were working on a patch did I realise that the poor performance of DP2 was just that.
Set both nine years after and five years before the original game, Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise features not one, but two protagonists. Lead them to discover an astonishing truth that will send both to the brink of madness.
In the present, unravel a cold case as Special Agent Davis through questioning, presenting evidence and reviewing key testimonies that reveal long-buried secrets.
In the past, help Special Agent Morgan investigate a spate of brutal murders. Explore Le Carré on foot or via skateboard, interact with its citizens, uncover clues and dabble in voodoo to discover the darker side of this seemingly peaceful town…Official website, 2020
Unconventional and Inexplicable
Whilst it may be deemed a sweeping statement to suggest that the game wasn’t ever meant to be a commercial success, it would explain many of the elements in-game that are otherwise inexplicable. Here are three such examples:
- Whilst riding my skateboard through the neighbourhood, a squirrel ran up to me and stole my root beer;
- I was fined $75 by the hotel concierge for having bad body odour as I explained to them that the shower in my room was broken;
- At one point, I had to wait an in-game week to order rice and beans from a restaurant to advance the main storyline.
It is stories like this which typify the experience on offer here. It’s also fair to say that all gaming conventions were thrown out the window with this sequel. Whilst it takes elements from many much-loved franchises, it then finds new ways to dial it up to 100 or make a mockery of it all. It won’t be long before you are either laughing along with York and Zack or scratching your head at the audacity of it all.
There are elements of the game that have been well done. Although tongue in cheek and brimming with cringe-worthy moments, I found the voice acting to be authentic and offered substance to the characters. I also particularly liked how the storyline developed, with twists and turns encouraging detective work as you identified where to go to next and why. There is a hidden depth to Deadly Premonitions 2 which is also welcome. You have health and stamina gauges accompanied by hunger and sleep deprivation ones too. Even the aforementioned shower debacle gives an idea as to what is available.
Nothing disguised here
If you look hard enough, there can be beauty found in everything. Where video games are concerned, there are so many on the market that grabbing a player’s attention is key. Unfortunately, in the case of Deadly Premonitions 2, the writing was on the wall based on performance alone. Putting that aside – as it has the potential to be fixed – there are still underlying issues with the simplistic gunplay, over-indulgent fetch quests and bizarre storyline.
All of that is before I mention the lack of tutorial or direction. There is an over-reliance on your familiarity with the original and the time-dependent events that are only happened upon by chance. It’s a game I wanted to like as there should always be a place for passion projects. However, the execution is so bad that it sours the whole experience.
Rapid Reviews Rating
The Deadly Premonition series has garnered quite the cult following, and it is almost clear to see why. With some much-needed TLC and a spot of polish, Deadly Premonitions 2 could have been a game deserving of praise. As it stands, it is impossible to recommend and that is the most disappointing of all. That, and the inexcusable performance issues that should never be considered acceptable in 2020.
You can buy Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise by clicking the following link: eShop
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.