It’s still hard to grasp that Deadly Premonition is getting a sequel after marinating for almost a decade. Anyone’s who’s played the original knows what an insane prospect this is. It’s like Steven Spielberg funding a sequel to The Room. Or Fifty Shades of Gray winning the John Newbery Medal. Or even The Big Bang Theory making a good joke. These things just don’t happen, and for good reason. Even if you’ve never ventured into Greenvale yourself, there are plenty of reasons to take the trip in 2020 and see why the world’s gone topsy-turvy.
Deadly Premonition 2 will probably show you that life is beautiful
Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise follows up years after the original game. If you haven’t played that, it centers around a curious FBI investigator known as Agent Francis York Morgan (call him York, everybody does). We join him just as his long hunt for a serial killer takes him to the town of Greenvale. You investigate a string of murders connected to the case and find way more than you bargained for. Interesting townsfolk are everywhere, most obviously inspired by TV cult classic Twin Peaks. The original Deadly Premonition achieved that same obscure success despite all the bumps on the road.
To put it plainly, the original Deadly Premonition succeeds almost entirely in spite of itself. There’s an excellent story obscured behind awkward character animations and some downright bizarre musical choices. The gameplay splits between seemingly unfinished detective work and clunky combat forced in by the publisher. The map is so fundamentally broken that learning where you’re going by instinct is often your only choice. This is a clunky mess of a game, and that may be part of its charm. It’s also why the prospect of lead creative force Hidetaka Suehiro (known as SWERY) coming back after all these years is so interesting because games like this are incredibly rare.
The release of Deadly Premonition catapulted SWERY to the rockstar developer stratosphere, at least in some circles. Die-hard fans pushed the game with enough fervor that we got a PC version and a Director’s Cut re-release. SWERY spun off that success into new ventures, including D4, The Missing, and The Good Life. While Deadly Premonition wasn’t his first project, he’s much improved as a storyteller this time around. Will that experience make A Blessing in Disguise more bland than what came before? Will improved gameplay actually hurt the vibe that the original game stumbled into? Or, can SWERY really do something just as interesting with a return trip?
Hopefully, it’s the latter, as that seems more plausible. This is no mere lazy continuation, it’s a prequel and sequel hybrid that introduces an older York and a new detective. The sequel portion takes place in Boston, which is interestingly the same setting as D4. Released on Xbox One around launch, it has the same insane vibe as SWERY’s seminal work, perhaps best illustrated by the scene where a man debones an entire plate of fishes by consuming the meat. Unfortunately, the original release was an Xbox exclusive with ties to the Kinect, which was a recipe for failure. We might not see D4 elements in Deadly Premonition 2, but it does seem logical. The prospect of witnessing some aspect of that doomed episodic game is yet another reason to look forward to this game on top of the creator possibly improving his bizarre craft after some practice.
Galaxy of terror
It also seems like Deadly Premonition 2 will be focusing more on the detective work than the combat end of things. While there are zombie creatures that you fought in Greenvale in the teaser, you can also see York sneaking past it rather than attacking. This mechanic saw an introduction in the first game but didn’t get much play, which was likely a result to the aforementioned publisher mandate to have it more appealing to the mainstream. Sneaking around isn’t something you expect out of a game with zombies in it, and Deadly Premonition 2 now has the clout to pull off its original design without any second-guessing. With a more character-driven gameplay approach, you’re more likely to get a system with enough originality to match the characters and setting instead of a focus on forced shooting.
You can also see that Deadly Premonition 2 will mix things up further in that department, even just from the brief footage we’ve seen so far. You can see Agent York boating and skateboarding, which are both new activities that hint at a much-expanded open world for the title. There were some crazy things to discover in the town of Greenvale, and that was just in your police car. We can only hope that York gives an almost logical reason for why he wants to hit the half-pipe all of a sudden.
For all these reasons and more, Deadly Premonition 2 is a fascinating prospect. However, the sheer novelty of its existence trumps them all. We live in an era of unexpected returns, where no media franchise with any kind of fanbase is off limits. The fact that this movement could come to games gives hope that other odd, beloved franchises could come back. If Deadly Premonition can get somehow get a sequel, maybe Nintendo will make a new F-Zero or Microsoft could pull Crimson Skies out of its pocket. Perhaps Unreal Tournament will get some dev time at Epic Games again. This kind of insane happening doesn’t go down every day, so use that strange energy to your advantage while we all wait for Deadly Premonition 2, a sequel we weren’t entitled to receive but one that players should be excited for. Even if it doesn’t turn out well, at least its mere existence will be worth appreciating.