Some people think the allure of the 2010 deadly premonition comes down to “so bad it’s good”, but I don’t think that’s correct. Back then, many of us liked the game without irony. He had a genuine charm, conveyed through a unique small town setting and memorable characters like FBI Special Agent Francis York Morgan. Yes, there were some technical issues, but fans saw them and developed a real appreciation for the gameplay and the story. Unfortunately, this degree of goodwill is almost impossible to extend to this suite; Much like the victim at the center of its story, Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise looks like a lifeless relic frozen in ice. The tale is divided into two main sections. The first takes place in what is now Boston, where two FBI agents investigate the recent reappearance of the missing body of a murder victim. It turns out that this young woman was the central figure in one of the previous York cases, which took place in Le Carré, Louisiana. Agents are rightly skeptical of York’s involvement, and his aversion to the color red and his insistence on talking to an invisible fairy does little to establish his credibility. These actual parts play out like a visual novel, with minimal interaction and lots of dialogue. It’s not a great way to start the adventure, and the pace and delivery of the line is extremely slow. These current sections seem difficult, but they don’t take up a lot of playing time. Much of the game goes back to York’s time in Le Carré, where he investigates the gruesome murder of a young girl. Once York realizes his connection to a drug ring and the mysterious appearance of Red Seeds, he is determined to resume the investigation. The case itself is bizarre and complicated, and the investigation is heading in directions even the most ardent fans will not expect. I really liked the tone and setting of the first lethal premonition, and much of that appeal – story wise, at least – returns in A Blessing in Disguise. The characters are never what they seem, and the setting gives director Hidetaka “Swery” Suehiro and his crew access to a variety of archetypes that aren’t just repeat episodes of Twin Peaks. There are a few cringe-worthy moments, especially voodoo and trans-focused, but none of them seem mean. Le Carré is home to a solid cast of weirdos, which is probably why York seems to love being there so much. The Casa Pineapple hotel, where York stays, is made up of a chef, bellboy and concierge who appear to be the same person. Melvin, the town sheriff, likes to recap what is going on in the style of a movie trailer announcer. Patricia, Melvin’s daughter, accompanies York for much of the investigation, providing sass and local insight. I always looked forward to meeting one of the curious in town, as it’s one of those far too rare situations where you really don’t know what’s coming next. In Swery’s world, anything is really possible, no matter how stupid, stupid, or extravagant. Deadly Premonition 2 is a frustrating experience as it nails down so many things that made the first game great. For example, there is a character named Emma who runs a skateboard shop in her garage. She also plays double bass at Owl’s Nest bar with her father and the owner. Emma’s father is the pastor of the town and he also runs the medical clinic. All this to say that Emma is wearing a layered shirt with stars on the sleeves and the word “baptize” printed on the front. I don’t know why, but it almost killed me the first time I saw it. It’s weird while still being technically accurate, which is a tightrope walk that Swery and his team pulled off in Game 1. I don’t even mind the quirks and graphic glitches such as Emma sometimes being in her garage in the same space as her instrument – arms sticking out of her sides as if wearing a bass guitar costume. As a fan of the first game, I didn’t expect technical perfection, but my forgiving approach to these shortcomings ends when they affect gameplay. And boy, do they. Emma’s store isn’t just for shows. York had his car stolen on his arrival in town and he rides on a skateboard. He’s a better skateboarder than he was – or at least the controls are better. The framerate, however, pretty much kills it and everything in the open world of the Square. It’s an interrupted and choppy slideshow that gets worse when you use one of the more efficient means of transportation. I had to take frequent breaks because it made me nauseous, which has never happened to me in decades of playing games. It’s horrible. The framerate issue isn’t limited to your time on the skateboard either; regular exploration on foot also pushed my tolerance to its limits. The problem also makes other tasks a complete guessing game; During bowling, the counters that govern the force and rotation of your shot are rendered almost unnecessary by jerky performance. These technical complications are confusing since Le Carré is one of the most empty and least engaging open worlds I have seen in years. You can see a pedestrian or two, and cars pass by sometimes, but not much else is happening. The city is a vast expanse of identical trees and repeating buildings. Fortunately, I was able to avoid some nausea by taking advantage of the fast travel system, available from the start. Taking that shortcut means you won’t hear some of York’s conversations with his alter-ego Zach – but they’re repeated so often that you probably won’t miss. How many times do you really need to hear a recap of Forest Whitaker’s career, after all? I loved the philosophy of play at your pace that the first game embraced, which is an important aspect that the sequel lacks. Mini-games and sidequests round out the length; they don’t add insight to any of the characters. In one of the more egregious examples, you can take part in a series of photo-based treasure hunts standing where a photo was taken in an album. Find all 20, and you get a small prize and a chance to do it four more times. Nope. The prizes for these side activities include components that you can use to craft special tokens and trinkets, which increase your various weapon handling stats, give you more stamina, or modify any other number of backstage counters. The game is so straightforward, and meeting York’s various food and upkeep needs is so straightforward that there is no reason to engage with any of these systems outside of your own sense of completion. . In The Square itself, you can use York’s pellet gun to shoot at attacking bees, dogs, squirrels, and alligators. When York harnesses its ability to access the Otherworld, combat becomes more of a goal. Here he is able to go back in time and witness what happened at pivotal moments. These parts are interesting, but you have to fight your way through some incredibly tedious action scenes to get there. Basically, you walk through an unchanged series of hallways while blasting the same three types of enemies over and over again. Any tension is thwarted as the game pauses for a fraction of a second before these enemies appear in the world, so you know when to expect them each time. From there it’s all about shooting the creep in the face and moving on, whether it’s a scissor-wielding clown or a scary succubus. There are boss fights, but they’re so deep I wonder why they bothered to show up. When the credits rolled I was completely shocked. Not because I couldn’t believe who was the culprit behind it all, or how ruined the final encounter was, but because it came out of nowhere. The characters are built and then deflated without fanfare. There is a final showdown, but it’s hollow and seems rushed. It’s a weird paradox overall – a game that’s both too short and too padded, but here we are. It will inevitably be another polarizing title, which should ultimately not be a big surprise. I just wish I could count myself among his defenders this time.