You cannot talk about Swery‘s latest game without talking about the cult classic Deadly Premonition on the Xbox 360. A couple years later we were lucky enough to be gifted The Director’s Cut for the PS3. And just this year Nintendo’s Switch gained access to the weirdness of the game in the form of Deadly Premonition: Origins. Very recently the long awaited sequel finally drops on the Switch, but was it worth the decade long wait?
Anyone who was a fan of Twin Peaks saw the amazing homage that has been written into the game. The first title follows Special FBI Agent Francis York Morgan during a murder investigation in Greenvale, Washington (fake American city). The person murdered is an 18 year old female who’s murder is similar to those around the country. York’s job is to find the murderer and he encounters so many supernatural events as he does so. The sequel is a bit different, let’s get into that.
A case from the past comes back to haunt the retired Francis “Zach” Morgan. As a fan of the first game it saddened me to see the prior games hero so low and down and out in life. What is it with 2020 killing and ruining my favorite characters from beloved past titles? Not that Morgan is ruined, but a decade later and it seems he’s not going too well in life.
Agent Davis and Agent Jones decided to make a visit to Morgan’s abode in Thompsonville, MA. They come to question him about a case from 2005 that has suddenly been re-opened due to finding the first victim’s body. Agent Davis, after a hard battle with genius Morgan, finally gets him to tell the story of his time in La Carre, LA. This is when you take control of Morgan and drop Davis for a bit, which was fine by me, not a huge fan of her character.
You find yourself controlling younger Morgan and just enjoying his weird tangents and how he interacts with people. Morgan is on vacation when he gets sucked into another odd murder investigation. A young girl finds herself dead at an alter under a bridge, Morgan suspects Voodoo, but soon finds that it is something very different. That’s really all I want to expound about the story, one of the best things about a Swery game is his ability to spin a yarn. I don’t want to accidentally spoil it for you so all I’ll say it you will be on the edge of your seat.
One thing about Swery is that he knows how to make interesting NPC’s. Every character that I interacted with was unique and insanely quirky. The kind hearted Sheriff, his daughter that follows you around, the Voodoo store owner, the list can go on and on.
Around every corner I was meeting new characters that were unique to the game and constantly made me laugh. Other developers need to take a point from Swery, not ALL NPC’s need to be boring drones that all look alike or took and arrow to the knee. Every Chapter in the game I was introduced to people that I genuinely wanted to know more about.
Throughout this review I will be comparing this title with the original, it just makes sense to me to do that for fans of the original, since this game was made for them. The developers decided to go the cell-shading route with the look and I really liked it. Deadly Premonition: Origins has this late PS2 look to the graphics, which does give it some of its charm. When you bought a budget title ten years ago you KNEW it was a budget title and you loved it.
The sequels graphics look REALLY good, I think it is the cell-shading that pulls everything together. When you look at past cell-shaded games, those are the ones that aged the best. The Wind Waker, Fear Effect and Borderlands. In twenty years, if one of my Switches still works, when I fire this up it won’t be hard to look at like Metal Gear Solid. This whole world pops and is surprisingly self-aware, which makes you giggle more than you think. La Carre is a beautiful town, albeit scary. If I ever took a vacation down South I wouldn’t mind visiting a town that it this lively, gorgeous and mysterious.
The main characters and most NPC’s are unique in the design and voice-overs. You won’t be wondering who have to talk to to progress the story, most of the time you will remember exactly who you need to speak to. Agent Morgan still looks great, I think he looks better with the cell-shading sprinkled over him. In the original game he looked too rubbery in the cut scenes and sometimes it was unsettling.
The controls of the game are pretty simple, R is run and dodge, pressing left thumbstick gets York to crouch, ZR is Melee attack and pressing X gets you to the Red Room. The Red Room is basically the in game menu, you can look at your map, check you quest progress, look into your inventory and investigate items you have picked up.
Continuing to run with R depletes your stamina bar, this can get annoying when you don’t have your skateboard. The controls when you do have your skateboard are quite easy, pressing Y equips the board; A is speed up and B is slow down. Easy enough right Zach? You’re given a gun that only fires rubber bullets (for some reason) early on in the game. You draw your weapon with ZL, aim with the R thumbstick, fire with ZR and reload with A. Pretty simple. These controls are MUCH better than the original on the Xbox 360. When you were trying to fire everything was so finicky that you lost health because the controls were so tough that you couldn’t get a bead on the enemy.
Seeing as you’re an FBI Agent you must investigate every now and then. When you do you will jump into first person mode and have a look around the offending area. As you do this you find out more about the case, if you find yourself stumped press L and you will use your “vision.” This allows you to see things you may have missed in your initial inspection. But use it sparingly, you’ll deplete your concentration meter and you don’t want to do that!
I will admit that this game is an acquired taste. There are a lot of non-sensical cut scenes and references to pop culture that some people just may not understand. I’m a huge fan of niche games that are weird and outside of the box, so developers like Suda 51 and Swery call out to me on a different level. What bothers me about this game is the lack of polish.
The game has extremely long load times, which made me think the game froze. There were several occasions that I almost went to reset my Switch because of this. There will only be York on the screen and the framerate will drop alarmingly low for no reason that I could see. There is an update to all of this though, a patch was released on the 21st of July. That’s a great thing to do, but the game should have already shipped in a working condition.
To be honest, after playing with the patches, the game runs a bit smoother, but the load times are still atrocious. There’s no excuse for me to wait two or more minutes after completing a section of the game. These long waits take you out of the immersion, and with the writing done so well that saddens me. Another item of interest that is missing from this game is the super natural element found in the original. When you fired up the first game you KNEW it was going to be a wild supernatural ride. The sequel kind of misses the mark when it comes to the creepy feel the first game had.
Even with all of these hiccups in the game and my constant comparison to the first game, which I enjoyed more. It does not mean this is a game that you should pass up on. I still enjoyed it and it gave me the gumption to replay the original as I played this one. If you’re a fan of unique, well written games, then by all means pick this title up. This game is like nothing you have played or will play!
This review is based on a review copy provided by the publisher
Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing In Disguise
Quirky Agent Morgan is back and with great writing and dialogue from Swery we get to see more of his past, and sadly his future.
- Cell-Shaded graphics look great and will make the game look timeless
- Swery's writing is amazing, the dialogue he can pump out is fantastic
- While not a perfect sequel it is nice to have more Agent Morgan in our lives
- The loading times are super long
- Framerate framerate framrate, for a finished game this should not be happening
- The game stalls and made me think on several occasions that it froze