- the plot may not knock your socks off, but it's quite decent;
- Le Carré is inhabited by great characters;
- dialogues and main character comments;
- smart ways of breaking "the fourth wall”;
- audio setting;
- the technical layer of the game is a bit of a joke;
- fatal smoothness (not) and animation quality;
- players are spoon-fed while running their investigation;
- poor visuals;
- vanishing sounds;
- recurring monologues of the main character;
- numerous and long loading screens;
- lame shooting;
- clamping controls in Otherworld.
Reviewing a game like Deadly Premonition 2 is just excruciating. How do I explain to readers that a game that, from the technical point of view, is an absolute failure, an eye-popping abomination, a humbug, and seems like a sixth grader's prank is actually worth spending with it tens of hours? Because It is. I don't know if Swery is a narrative genius employing children working in the mines of a British factory from the pages of a Dickens novel to write some code, because that's kind of how it looks. What I do know is that I don't regret a single minute spent in the company of Agent York and his lovely, ten-year-old assistant Patti while exploring the mystery of Le Carré, somewhere in Louisiana. Well, go figure...
The original Deadly Premonition had gained the status of an iconic game over the years. It was a bit of a shame to mention it as one of the best titles of 2013, but whoever played it knows what it's all about. One has learned the truth. One was enlightened. One has joined the ranks of Swery's chosen ones. An ardent follower of the Japanese designer hiding under this very alias. A blind fanatic? - no. No way. No beating around the bush, Mr. Hidetaka Suehiro. Oh, I'm gonna sock it to you.
The plot in Deadly Premonition 2 runs in a parallel. In two locations set 14 years apart. What's more, there are two playable characters in the game. They are uneven because the main role is played here by agent Francis York Morgan, who begins to track down the perpetrators of a brutal murder in a city ruled by an influential family. At first, agent Aaliyah Davis seemed to be a square peg in a round hole, interrogating the aging York in his Boston apartment. She does this because it is only after these fourteen years that the body of a murder victim is found, and the investigation carried out years ago is full of holes and shortcomings. Which, of course, we'll be slowly discovering as the game progresses.
From his hotel room, York, who must of course pay out of his own pocket for every 24 hours he spends there, conducts his investigating. Here he takes a shower, and if he can get the water pressure in the pipes back up, he can shave and put on a fresh suit. And look for connections between suspects on a board that resembles what you've seen in crime films. It's probably the most normal place in the world, if you don't count the voodoo altar standing in the middle of the room. But hey, we're in Louisiana, things like that are normal around here.
But as soon as we step out of the room, strange things begin to happen. And this is revealed to us in the mirror by a bony friend talking riddles directing York to places of interest. You also shoot some UFOs or chase away creatures that inhabit the so-called Otherworld, who take over the town between midnight and 6 a.m. Evil works like clockwork. Just like all the establishments in the town that are open only at specific hours, which requires players to plan a whole day ahead. Unless you carry a lot of packs of cigarettes with you to speed up the passage of time. And then die of lung cancer. Then, about fourteen years later.
Le Carré is not a place one explores with pleasure. It's a painstaking job at first, requiring maximum patience and inner peace because exploring the world at ten frames per second (often freezing anyway) is not on the menu of games in 2020. And the town isn't that small, even if York doesn't have to walk everywhere. Because it has a skateboard. And after some time, he can try doing some tricks on it. Skateboard and an FBI detective. It's a bit like a combination of a garbage truck and a water bike, but it works. As the situation evolves, the fast travel between previously discovered points will become available. It will be provided by a girl driving an early Uber.
There is no shortage of side tasks in the game, which are unlocked during conversations with NPCs or accepted from a bulletin board at the sheriff's office. They allow you to earn some money that is very important in the game - you have to pay for the hotel but also for food or drinks. The fabrics one finds are also useful, for example, for making a voodoo talisman affecting protagonist's stats in a local shop. At the request of a cemetery nut, we can look for distinctive locations, shoot raccoons and dogs. Because why not? There are a lot of options, but you don't really want to do any of it because exploring the city in a few frames per second is a pain in the ass.
The game shines with its dialogue system. York is a fan of Hollywood and often makes references to various films. Players are bound to listen to his conversations with the weirdos living in Le Carré with genuine pleasure. Also thanks to actors playing different roles. Sometimes it's just talk about simple things, completely detached from the game itself. It's fantastic and refreshing. So is breaking the fourth wall. It's like York is talking to his other "me" – as if he has a split personality or schizophrenia – but we know perfectly well that those words are meant for the player. The remarks are smart and often funny. I laughed a few times.
However, Deadly Premonition 2 is primarily a crime story with forces of evil in the background. From time to time, we have to investigate a scene using our detective senses. Sometimes we have to shoot a little bit. And while the investigations are well-designed – although they do not offer much of a challenge – the shooting isn't worth a bean. Or a bullet. It is definitely more an adventure than action game, but you can see that no one put too much effort into the gameplay mechanics. It's a bit of a shame because there are even boss fights here.
In terms of narrative, Swery's work is top-quality. In terms of execution, it's the bottom low of video games. I already mentioned animations. But it's just a rotten icing on a potatoe cake. While skateboarding, the game is able to lose the sounds accompanying the wheels rolling on the road. York keeps repeating the same monologues over and over - when you hear the same line for the tenth time you're bound to feel the urge to turn off the sound. The lines change only after the next chapter is unlocked, in which the new ones are continually repeated. During a three-minute drive, it is common to hear the same thing three times. Madness. During visits to the demonic side, the controls got jammed on a regular basis. Instead of shooting the demons, I had to run away from them until the game had gotten back on its track again. The often-appearing loading screens were driving me crazy.
I tried a little bit to compress the flaws of the game because otherwise, the whole text should be one big complaint. How can you treat the players like that, Mr. Swery? Give them a fantastic story full of brilliantly written characters and put them through hell by offering such a technologically underdeveloped gimmick? The fans will understand and enjoy the fun, everyone else will throw the game in the bin saying "don't open until the world is over." It's as if the programmers are more interested in perfecting a few minigames – despite bowling a dozen games I still have no idea how to count the points – than patching the rest.
When asked if the game is worth playing, I answer: of course it is. But only if you accept and understand the formula.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
The older I get, the more I appreciate strange, not to say bizarre, games. I spent nearly thirty hours with DP2 and I feel like going back to part one. If I had enough courage I would say this is not a series for people having fun with Fortnite. But I won't say that. Have fun and curse as much as you can. It's worth it.
Przemyslaw Zamecki | Gamepressure.com