Platform Reviewed: PC Platforms Available: PC, PS Vita Publisher: Spike Chunsoft Developer: Spike Chunsoft Release Date: April 18, 2016 MSRP: $29.99 (Php. 1385.31)
When the first Danganronpa came out, it made waves with it’s unique art style, fast paced courtroom action, and increasingly over the top executions. Years later, Spike Chunsoft comes out with a sequel Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair and now the question on everyone’s mind is if it lives up to the hype of the first game?
Unlike the first game’s killer highschool setting, Danganronpa 2 takes place in a tropical Island. You play as a student from Hope’s Peak Academy, a prestigious school housing students who are the best at their field in the country, who are collectively known as the Ultimates. The game starts out with you waking up on a tropical island with other students as part of a field trip with the objective to know each other better. It’s all fine and dandy at first until the field trip takes a turn for the worst and is hijacked by series mascot Monokuma and changes the rules of the trip, forcing you and your classmates to murder each other in order to escape. This is where the game shifts into the familiar territory of the first game where you and your classmates have to undergo class trials in order to point out who the murderers are.
Most of the game is spent interacting with your fellow classmates and exploring the island. Once a murder is committed, the player then has to conduct an investigation to gather evidence to use for the next phase which is the class trials. This is where the game takes a sudden change in pacing. Class trials are a series of fast paced debates where you mainly hear out each others testimonies and point out contradictions with the help of the evidence you gathered during your investigations to reveal who the real killer is. The standard cross examinations are heavily stylized with bullets as a motif. Your evidence is symbolized as “truth bullets” and as your classmates each state their arguments non-stop, you have to shoot the right statement with the appropriate truth bullet to either expose a contradiction or reinforce a statement. This experience demands a lot of logical deduction as well as nerves of steel since there’s a time limit and every failed accusation lowers your classmates’ faith in you.
Aside from this, there are also many other mini-games symbolizing processes such as counter-rebuttals and looking through your thoughts to remember an important piece of evidence. The mini-games each play differently and give the trials plenty of variety to spice things up, but at times they can feel quite immersion breaking and add needless difficulty to the game. The game doesn’t do a very good job at easing you in with the controls as it just info dumps the instructions without much of a tutorial which may make it difficult for players to grasp the mechanics. Luckily, the player can equip skills which he can earn by collecting hope shards earned through increasing their bonds with their fellow classmates. These skills help the player in various ways such as increasing the amount of time they have in cross examinations and increasing the rate they regenerate focus which is used to slow down time during cross examinations. This gives players an added incentive to get to know their classmates better, the ultimate incentive being an ultimate skill unlocked when they max their relationship status (as well as unlocking their underwear as a collectible item). Relationship values can be increased in game during the various free hours the game gives you where you talk to them and get to know them a little better, as well as have the option to give them gifts you can buy in game to hasten the process.
Like the first game, Danganronpa 2 features the same distinct character design and art direction as the first game, such as censoring the blood with bright neon pink. Also present is how the game’s overworld is presented in 3D but the characters are presented as 2D cut-outs. Another signature carryover from the first game is how the executions are carried in a hilariously over the top and ironic fashion. That said, if you were a fan of how the first game looked, expect to see more of that in the second game. Conversely, if the first game’s art style wasn’t to your liking, then don’t expect much different in this game.
In terms of the game’s story, people familiar to the first game may already have an idea on what to expect, but the game hides enough secrets and twists to keep players on their toes. The murders are done in a way that the identity of the murderers are hidden so well that the player will always be on edge. In terms of characters, every one of the characters have their own unique personality quirks. Everyone has their own levels of personal depth, which makes it all the more heartbreaking when you find out one of them is the murderer for that particular case. What’s sad is that with the nature of game, you won’t nearly have enough time to know all of them well enough since they’ll all start dying one by one. Luckily after beating the game, Dangan Island mode opens up in which the original field trip isn’t hijacked by monokuma and goes off as planned. Here the player has all the freedom to leisurely get to know their classmates better.
Overall, the game’s nail biting experience from start to finish and is something fans of detective work; and the courtroom drama will be sure to enjoy Danganronpa 2. Although those who aren’t exactly good with the game’s fast paced mini-games may find themselves overwhelmed by the difficulty. Fortunately, the option to turn down the difficulty for those who just wish to enjoy the story without the hassle is available. Those who enjoyed the art style of the first game will find themselves at home in the sequel. Generally, the same can be said for the game itself as a whole. If you enjoyed Danganronpa, then you’ll be sure to enjoy the sequel. Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair is a worthy successor to an already good game and all the extra features are just the icing to a deliciously sweet cake of despair.
A worthy successor to an already great game. Danganronpa‘s mysteries will keep you hooked and the logic puzzles will have you at your wit’s end. If anything, the game’s mini-games may prove to be a bit annoying at first and the game doesn’t exactly do a good job with teaching them to you. Overall, a must-buy for fans of the first game.
This review is based on a review copy provided by the developers/publisher.