“The beloved video game finally gets its long-awaited sequel, remake, etc.”
This has been a common story throughout the 8th generation of gaming consoles.
Many of these games have released to incredible success.
Many of these games have released to incredible disdain.
Deadly Premonition 2 is but another chapter in this book.
I feel the need to address and get this out of the way now. As many of you may know, DP2 is currently suffering from tremendous technical issues. Choppy frame-rate, random crashes, among various other glitches. Contrary to what you may see online, these are not good, these do not contribute anything of value to the experience. Swery’s games are loved for more than just the schadenfreude surrounding them, and anyone saying that these issues come with the territory is grossly misrepresenting his work.
Rising Star Games and Swery, himself, have publicly addressed this, and they have assured us that they will work on them. I had the patience to soldier through these issues, so they do not factor too heavily into my own perception of the game. I simply bring them up for the sake of transparency.
Tell them what it’s about, Zach.
Deadly Premonition 2 acts as both a prequel and sequel to the original. The story follows Aaliyah Davis, and her partner Simon Jones as they interrogate Zach, trying to uncover the truth about his link to the unusual red seed cases. Zach’s recounting of his first time encountering the red seeds in Le Carré becomes the prequel half of the game. This manner of storytelling is far from unique, but it’s a tried and true method that does well at building tension and suspense.
The prequel half of this game feels light a lite-version of the Greenvale case, in some respects. While it’s filled with the same kinds of surrealist twists and colorful characters, it feels more like a vehicle to drive the overall narrative forward. Outside of plot critical characters, there’s less emphasis on character building compared to the original, so many NPCs here lack depth.
This isn’t to say that there’s no merit here though, I found many of the plot twists here to be highly interesting. And there’s good payoff for your attentiveness as the story all begins to set up for the climax. The prequel half is absolutely vital to the story this game is trying to tell, and it works.
The sequel half is where the bulk of the intrigue will lie for most players, I believe. Aaliyah’s interrogation of Zach becomes more heated as the story continues, leading to some uncomfortable discoveries. The story is shocking in a good way and the climax here is one of the most satisfying things I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in a game this year. I had no idea what to expect, yet somehow I felt my expectations for the story were defied.
What I appreciate most about this game is that it tells its story without trouncing all over the original. It doesn’t fall into the trap plaguing most sequels by introducing new revelations into the original story, retconning or undermining what its predecessor did. While there are allusions to the Greenvale case in DP2, it is left untouched. DP2 seldomly ever uses the laurels of the original to prop itself up, making those instances where things come full circle feel that much more effective.
How do we play, Zach?
Deadly Premonition 2 is divided into two main styles of gameplay: Investigations and Open-world. Investigations are what you’ll be doing mostly during the sequel half, these are merely point-and-click style segments where you can highlight and inspect objects. The Open-world gameplay is mostly isolated to the prequel half, it is reminiscent of what was present in Deadly Premonition where you explore, interact with NPCs, play mini-games, etc.
Unlike in Deadly Premonition where York would just stumble into the Otherworld anytime he entered a crime scene or story area, you know have to solve riddles given to you by someone. The riddles reveal the location to a singularity point which allow York to enter the Otherworld and begin his profiling.
New to DP2 are light RPG elements present in the form of charms that you can craft/buy to boost specific character stats. These include things like reload speed, power, HP or Stamina maxes, etc. You also have a concentration meter that allows you to scan for things in the open world/investigations.
DP2 has polished many of the mechanics of the original Deadly Premonition. For example, combat in DP1 was a Resident Evil 4 style element that was clumsily forced into the game. In DP2, it has been improved allowing for movement while aiming. In addition to that, you’re also given a charge shot mechanic that can be used at the cost of your concentration meter.
Some features from DP1 have been removed entirely, such as the “hold breath” sneaking system. DP2 feels more combat-centric than the original as a result of these changes. While this is fine by itself, this is one of the main aspects I found to be a pain due to the poor performance.
How’s the music, Zach?
The music here is a major highlight for me. Satoshi Okubo (Hotel Dusk, Last Window) was brought on as composer for this project. His jazz leanings are responsible for introducing a more mature atmosphere to the music of Deadly Premonition 2. While the mood of the original game’s soundtrack could be described as whimsical, DP2’s music is melancholic. It echoes the feelings of a deep southern town rife with mystery.
Every song feels thematically appropriate to the setting. While the quirkiness of DP1’s music isn’t quite there, this soundtrack isn’t without its own brand of catchy tunes. And more often than not you’ll probably be stopped in your tracks to listen to some of the music, especially if you’re a fan of jazz.
This soundtrack is some of Okubo’s best work and I’m immensely grateful that he was brought on as composer.
Wrap it up, Zach.
Deadly Premonition 2 is a worthy follow-up to ts predecessor. The charms of Swery’s brand of storytelling are all present, and at no point does this game feel that its forcing itself to compete with the original. It instead builds around the original in order to lead this story to a satisfying conclusion.
With the promise of future patches on the horizon to address performance issues, this is a game that just may get better with time.