If Deadly Premonition 2 appears to eschew pretences of Twin Peaks in favour of the first season of True Detective, both with a primary setting in the Deep South of Louisiana (incidentally, just prior to Hurricane Katrina) as well as a narrative structure split between two time periods, rest assured it still has the bizarre idiosyncrasies of its creator, SWERY – and most definitely not on a better budget.
Like many sequels, Deadly Premonition 2 recycles certain beats from the original. Once again, the plot centres on the murder of a young woman whose corpse is discovered in a grotesque arrangement that’s meant to serve a divine purpose. There’s also a fascination with a transgender character who’s handled so poorly that SWERY issued a public apology and vowed to fix this in an update. And despite claims that the combat in the first game was a late addition insisted by the publisher, these sections return, seemingly even more dragged out.
I suspect most fans who lauded the original as a cult classic will overlook these qualms, since you still spend most of the time with FBI Special Agent Francis York Morgan, one of video gaming’s most peculiar protagonists, who can go from seriously investigating crime scenes with his unique supernatural abilities, to lighting up with childlike enthusiasm for random movie trivia at the drop of a hat (where else would you find ‘Michael Bay’ and ‘arthouse’ in the same sentence?).
It’s that kind of knowing absurdity that I’m mostly here for, even if other eccentric characters such as the man functioning as hotel chef, concierge, and bellboy all at once feel a bit forced. But there’s only so long a game can get by on ‘charm’, and after a while, Deadly Premonition 2 becomes an insufferable, overlong slog. Its duration is artificially extended by a painfully slow in-game clock that only makes sense if there were actually interesting things to do in its empty open world. You’ll more likely chain-smoke yourself to an early grave in order to speed up time, only to find you need to fulfil other needless parameters like hunger, fatigue, and cleanliness.
The sequel’s worst offence is forcing you into the most pointless fetch quest ever devised before excusing it with a couple of winking asides from York, as if other games haven’t used this old chestnut before in a less time-wasting way.
It’s just such a dull affair – and that’s not even diving into the myriad technical issues that may or may not have been patched by the time you read this. Any flashes of inspiration, wackiness, or even poignancy you can derive from Deadly Premonition 2’s story feel like ending a bad day with a weak cup of coffee. And even York can’t forgive bad coffee.
Just like Tony Hawk, York is down with the kids as he gets around town on a skateboard – there’s even a whole scene explaining how this came to be. It does prove more convenient than a car, since you can cut through lawns and alleys, and is also pivotal to one hilarious epic fail.
Blessed with SWERY’s unbridled weirdness, but disguised under layers of a tedious, broken game.
Genre: Sleuth-’em-up | Format: Switch (tested) | Developer: TOYBOX / White Owls | Publisher: Rising Star Games | Price: £39.99 | Release: Out now