The first game in this series, Deadly Premonition, was a cult classic that was released in 2010. The game received mixed reviews and was one of those love-it-or-hate-it kind of games for most. The best compliment I can give the game is that it was memorable. There was a uniqueness to the title that evoked a specific feeling of whimsy whenever the title was mentioned. That's not to say I don’t recall all of the game's negative traits (of which there were many), but the distinct essence of Deadly Premonition kept the game in a more positive glow for this reviewer even after a decade. Three years ago, Swery and the teams at Toy Box Inc. and White Owls decided to throw us back into the shoes of Francis York Morgan so that we could solve the case of the red seeds and figure out who’s been chopping people up all while discussing films in a wholly unusual and obsessive way.
All this aside, the story is an unhinged mess. One of the final cutscenes has so much going on that I’m not quite sure the writer understands what it means to create rules within a universe and then abide by them. So many things go unexplained, and not in a quirky and mysterious way that makes me want to continue to figure everything out. There is some random guy named Houngan who appears on reflective surfaces and gives you oracles that essentially allow you to solve the case. Who is he? Why does he exist? Does he exist? I have no idea. I Googled him, thinking maybe I missed something because I skipped so many awful, unrewarding side quests, but no. There is no clear answer about the character or whether he exists. While there is a chance that I could discover more about the creator’s motives through multiple play-throughs of the game, that would mean playing the game again.
The performance? You guessed it; atrocious. You would think that a game with basic semi-cell-shading graphics, low-poly geometry, and simple animation would perform fine, but the game stutters constantly. It’s never fully unplayable, but it constantly reminds you that you're playing a poorly optimized game. While I played this on the Switch, it’s not an excuse. The game doesn’t push any graphical or gameplay boundaries so the hindrances are unwarranted.
Whether I was watching a dreadfully long exposition scene, killing mundane enemies with early PS2 shooting mechanics, or listening to York repeat the same conversation to himself a hundred times, I found Deadly Premonition 2 to be a complete slog. It feels antiquated in all the wrong ways and doesn’t particularly reward you for that patience with a great story. It’s interesting, to be sure. It has moments of decent storytelling but overall feels weird just to be weird. And if that’s your thing and you loved the original game, then you may enjoy this. If, like me, you enjoyed the original game for its quirk and uniqueness, but disliked the gameplay and some of its story drivel, you may find yourself repulsed by Deadly Premonition 2’s lack of advancement in any meaningful area of game design. Francis York Morgan may have some charm, but hearing him say “Lollipop, I just wanted to say that” for the fiftieth time begins to grate on one’s nerves. If you have no investment in the series, skip this game.
Objective Assessment: 4/10
Bonus: +1 for some catchy tunes. +1 for being completable and mostly understandable.
Penalties: -2 for everything else.
Nerd Coefficient: 4/10
Posted by: Joe DelFranco - Fiction writer and lover of most things video games. On most days you can find him writing at his favorite spot in the little state of Rhode Island.