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Danganronpa 2 Review: It’s Sadistically Sweet

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I’m a strong proponent for visual novel games, particularly when it comes to the Ace Attorney series. So when a friend mentioned that the game Danganronpa Trigger Happy Havoc was a mixture of Ace Attorney and Battle Royale, you can bet that I quickly nabbed the game for my PlayStation Vita. And what a fantastically sadistic game it was. Luckily, its sequel, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair returns with just as much sickening violence, as well as thought worthy class trials yet again.

Danganronpa-2-Goodbye-Despair-14You play as Hajime, a student about to enter Hope’s Peak Academy, a prestige school for the best of the best A.K.A. “Ultimates.” However, things go south almost immediately when Hajime and his classmates find themselves on a tropical island without any knowledge on how they arrived. Not to mention their teacher is a talking stuffed rabbit dressed in a Fairy Princess costume named Usami. Confused and disoriented, the class is told that they have been brought here to work together and simply coexist. Doesn’t sound too bad, right?

Enter Monokuma. If you played the previous game you will remember the creepy talking stuffed bear as the “Headmaster” of Hope’s Peak Academy, and also the mastermind behind the killing game that occurred in Danganronpa Trigger Happy Havoc. Well there is more to it, but no spoilers allowed. Let’s just say Monokuma is one nasty plushy, that lives to watch students kill each other. So a school trip that first began as coexisting exercise quickly turns into yet another killing game. Kill each other, get away with the murder and you can leave the island. If the killer is found out then they are punished A.K.A. killed pretty sadistically.

danganonpa ultimateThe game has two modes: School Life and the Class Trial. Daily Life occurs each chapter. In it you will play through parts of the storyline exploring the several islands. You also are given “Free Time” that allows you to visit any living students and gather Hope Fragments that can be used to purchase Skills for the Class Trial portion of the game. Free Time allows time to pass in the game and allows you to continue through the story. You’ll also be able to cultivate relationships with the characters you choose to talk to, however, it will not actually affect the outcome of the game. If anything, it will simply allow you to gain an understanding of each character’s background. At times the Daily Life can feel a bit drawn out. There were several instances where I simply wanted to skip this portion and get down to the killings, because that is truly where the game shines.

Deadly Life begins the real story of each chapter. A horrifically brutal murder will occur and then it’s up to Hajime and the remaining living classmates to uncover just who the murderer is. Whether it be death by a metal bat to the head, or a double murder, you’ll be looking at plenty of anime dead bodies covered in copious amounts of bubblegum pink blood. And thus the Investigation portion of Deadly Life ensues.

While investigating you will point and click on the scenery around you in order to find clues, known as Truth Bullets. It’s fairly simple considering the game will essentially tell you whether you’ve examined everything and it will also remind you to visit other places that may involve the murder. Chatting with your other classmates is also essential since sometimes they will have information you don’t. You can also uncover alibis, which will be essential in the class trial. Unfortunately not everything will be placed as a Truth Bullet, and the game will expect you to remember certain information. This was sometimes an issue for me since I frequently saved and came back to the game, causing me to sometimes forget itty bitty details that I disregarded or simply forgot between my non-playing sessions.

danganronpa 2 1Once you’ve gathered all the Truth Bullets the game will automatically throw you into the Class Trial portion of the game. Unlike Ace Attorney, this trial is slightly different. There are no lawyers, it is simply the students going around spouting off their ideas in a Non-Stop Debate. A video will play with each student making their argument, their dialogue running across the screen. The words in yellow can be shot at with your Truth Bullets to find a contradiction, while the words in blue can be shot at to agree with another student. Obviously you must cycle through your Truth Bullets and shoot the correct one. You will also have to shoot down white noise, dialogue in purple, that shoots across the screen and will hinder your Truth Bullets when they are in the way. This all will occur within a time limit. Run out of time and you lose.

Although a huge portion of the Class Trial is the Non-Stop Debate, there are also a few mini-games within the trial. A new addition, the Rebuttal Showdown, is when one student goes head to head with Hajime. Determined to disagree they will spout out their theory while you must use your finger on the screen, the D-pad, or analog stick to “cut” through their words. The Truth Bullets become Truth Swords in this mode, and eventually you will have to throw the correct Truth Sword at the correct statement to show that your logic is correct. Another new addition is the Logic Dive, a snowboard mini-game. In Hajime’s head you must navigate the tunnels of his mind, answering the questions correctly to piece your logic together. Lastly, much like Ace Attorney, Danganronpa 2 now has a Spot Select mode that will allow you to indicate specific spots on an image, usually to back up your logic.

danganronpa-2-eng-screenshot-6-600x337Of course there a several modes that have returned, although a bit revamped. The Hangman’s Gambit returns, this time with letters coming in every direction. If any two unalike letters crash into each other you will get hurt so you must consistently shoot them down while also combining the alike and correct letters to fill in the blank at the bottom of the screen. Each Hangman’s Gambit will be looking for a specific answer. Bullet Time Battle returns, now known as Panic Talk Action. It is relatively the same. Tap the X or Square button to the tempo and take down the person’s argument. The only difference now is that the final blow now requires you to put together a phrase via a combo of X, Square, Triangle, and Circle. Lastly, an updated Closing Argument returns.  Taking the shape of a Comic Book you  must piece together just how the murder panned out. It’s a bit better than the previous version of this, as you can now thoroughly know what each panel is trying to show you thanks to a brief description and not having every blank to fill in at one time.

Overall, most of the changes to this sequel were necessary and great improvements. While I didn’t feel that the storyline was as strong as the first game, it definitely kept me captivated, especially near the end when I was trying to gain and understanding of what the hell was going on. Like the previous game, everything comes together at the end, although this one may be a bit out there compared the to previous game. In general, however, I thoroughly enjoyed trying to figure out “who dunnit.” and all the silly jokes about anime, videogames, and all the sexual innuendos. If you’re the type of person who is into games heavy on reading, and require you to use your brain, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair is the perfect sadistic breath of fresh air.

 

 

About Emily Horton

Emily is just your average twenty something girl who discovered her love for gaming at the age of three or four, all thanks to her older brothers. Mario, The Lion King, Aladdin, Zelda were her first loves, but Pokemon, Final Fantasy, Tales, and pretty much all Japanese games eventually fell into that category. She has an unhealthy obsession with Pikachu, hoodies, her 3DS, t-shirts, plushies, and purses. She may also fancy herself as an excellent lawyer due to number of times she has played through the Ace Attorney series. Outside of videogames, she is a Disney, Harry Potter, and Tolkien fanatic, while also recently discovering that she is now a hardcore fan of Supernatural thanks to Netflix allowing her to watch eight seasons rapid fire. She has elvish writing, the Deathly Hallows, a rather large Tinkerbelle and a large Yuna from Final Fantasy X all tattooed on her body, with only more geeky stuff to be added. Currently working on her own fantasy novel, she hopes to publish it eventually once all the kinks are worked out.

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