Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair Review

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Title: Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair
Developer: Nippon Ichi
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 1.5 GB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download | Retail

EU Availability: Digital Download | Retail
PSTV Support: Yes

Mystery and murder games are a rare breed.  When you take a look at the genre, there isn’t a whole lot to look at.  On the topic of solving cases and mysteries that involve murder, you can think of games like Ace Attorney and visual novel-type games like Virtue’s Last Reward.  The fact that I can only think of a few off the top of my head goes to show how much of a rare breed these games are.

Earlier this year, the PlayStation Vita got a pretty unique game in this genre.  Thanks to the localization efforts of Nippon Ichi America, Vita gamers got to experience Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc.  Taking visual novels, adventure games, and murder cases, the game offered a very unique and thrilling experience that did so well, it got an anime series made for it.  Since then, there have been many fans popping up all over the place, with Monokuma dolls and more.

Since then, it has been known that there are two sequels to that game.  The first, which isn’t out yet, is going to be a sort of “bridge” between Danganronpa 1 and Danganronpa 2.  However, the full-blown sequel to the game has released on the PlayStation Vita.  If you’re ready to jump back into despair, here is our official review of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair!

Story

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The story of Danganronpa 2 takes place on a very different location than that of the first.  When the game opens up, you have Hajima Hinata, a student excited about entering Hope’s Peak Academy, an academy that is only meant for the most gifted students.  This was to prepare them for leading the world in their various careers.  Walking in with several other students, Hajime soon finds that all is not what it seems.

Upon meeting a small, talking rabbit by the name of Usami claiming to be their teacher, the students are seemingly-magically transported to a collection of islands in the middle of nowhere.  Judging this as a “field trip”, Usami goes to explain that they are to spend time with one another.  This is to have fun and create what are called “Hope Fragments”, in the hopes of creating good relations with one another and coming back from the trip with good hearts.

Upon the first few days of the trip, however, despair falls onto the islands.  Out of nowhere, a maniacal bear known as Monokuma appears to dethrone Usami.  With giant monsters called Monobeasts as his allies, he gains control over the islands and the students’ lives.  He declares that they are all stuck on the islands forever, unless they can murder someone and get away with it.  With this, the shock falls over every student on the trip and, as blood is spilled, a much bigger plot begins to unfold.

The story of Danganronpa 2 mirrors many things from the first game.  You will learn these characters and be emotionally torn when each chapter’s murder takes place.  There are a lot of twists and turns as well as some that will make the shocking moments of the first game seem like child’s play.  If you can get into a visual novel story, there is a lot to enjoy in this game.

One last thing to note is that you should not be playing this game before you experience the story of the first.  This is a direct sequel to Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc.  From Chapter 2 and onward, you will find a lot of huge spoilers from the first game.  If you haven’t played the first game, play at your own risk.

Gameplay

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Just like the original game, this is a cross between a few genres.  For its most part, it is a visual novel that is surrounded by a plot of murder.  However, there are elements from other genres thrown in as well, particularly elements from the RPG, racing, rhythm, and adventure genres.  It is hard to classify the game as a specific genre.  But, if one had to declare it one, it would be a Visual Novel Adventure game.

You play through the game in chapters.  In each chapter, there will be sequences for you to explore the islands as well as spending time with other classmates.  Actual exploration has changed from the first game.  In the original game, the “World Map”, was a 3D area for you to run through.  This is still in the second game, but each individual area is set up like this, rather than the World Map.  In 2, the World Map is a side-scrolling 2.5D area where you can walk or run to different locations to enter, like the Supermarket or Airport.

Each individual area is set up either in 3D Exploration, like the first game’s school, or in a 2D area where you point and click to look at or investigate objects or people.  This helps the depth of the areas show themselves, making you realize you’re on huge islands instead of inside one building.  Aside from interacting, though, there are more things you can do.  There are Monokuma figurines around the different areas to collect as well as a Tamagatchi-style virtual pet for you to manage as you take more steps during the game.

To help you with navigation and more, there is a Main Menu in the form of an e-handbook to explore.  When you open it, you can look at various things.  The Map offers quick travel as well as showing you exactly where the other characters are.  The Report Card lets you see how much progress you are making at getting to know your fellow classmates.  There are other sections here as well, such as Truth Bullets for cases and options to save and load your game data.

The main sequences you will have in each chapter are Free Time and Investigate.  Free Time allows you to spend time with your fellow Classmates, similar to how Social Links work in the Persona series.  As you learn more about your classmates, you will obtain Hope Fragments, and it will fill out their entries in the Report Card section of the menu.

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In each chapter, a murder will take place.  When this happens, the Investigate sequence starts.  You will have a set amount of time to investigate objects at the scene of the crime and other areas.  You will also need to talk to everyone you can to collect as much evidence and testimonies as possible, which register as Truth Bullets, before the Class Trial starts.  Once that begins, you are taken to perform a trial and find out what happened during each murder.

Class Trials have changed since the first game.  You will still have some similar parts, like debating with your classmates and using Truth Bullets to point out falsifications in their statements.  But the game has also added Agreements to this section, where you can fire Truth Bullets at specific text to agree with statements.  Other parts have been enhanced, like the Hangman’s Gambit for finding specific word has more interaction in it and Bullet Time has been replaced with a similar mini-game that involves destroying “shields” that protect who you are arguing with.

There are also new mini-games here as well, particularly Rebuttal Battles where you constantly launch swords across the screen to knock out your opponent’s words until you use Truth Bullets to force them back.  There is also a new game called Logic Dive.  This has you answering questions about evidence while you navigate a 3D avatar through a race-like sequence.  The Closing Arguments have also changed, only giving you parts of your panels to enact the murder with and causing you to think a little more.  All in all, the trials are much more complex, easily being twice as long as the trials of the first game before heading to the next Chapter.

As far as length is concerned, Danganronpa 2 is a bit longer than its predecessor.   From start to finish, if you don’t rush through, the game should take you around 30-40 hours to finish.  This mostly depends on what all you do extra and how fast you can read.  There is also additional time added for extra game modes, like replaying the story in a “What If” scenario and watching the “Magical Girl Monomi” sequences.

Controls

As far as controls are concerned, a lot of the controls are pretty much the same as they were in the first game, if not all of them.  You still have the option of using the touch screen.  This can be used for selection objects on the screen to talk to as well as tapping to proceed to the next part of the conversation that is on-screen.

The Left Analog Stick and the D-Pad can move the cursor in the 2D areas as well as moving Hajima around in the 2.5D and 3D areas.  The Right Analog Stick is using in the 3D areas to move the angle that the camera is facing.  These are all of the controls regarding movement.  The X Button is used to investigate or interact with an object, and the Circle Button is used to either skip dialogue or exit the area to explore someplace else.  The Square Button is used to pull up the Main Menu and the Triangle Button is used to present evidence in trials.

The L and R buttons are also used in the game.  The R Button can be used to slow down time in the debates in trials.  It is also used to enable Auto-Read in scenes, allowing the dialogue to flow without button input.  The L Button is used in various mini-games.

All in all, the controls aren’t really hard to get used to and they are shown well in the game.  There are a lot of them, but veterans of the first game will be at home with the controls.

Presentation

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As far as the game’s visuals are concerned, it is the same as the first game.  There are some 3D areas and some 2D areas.  However, there are more 3D areas in this game than in the first Danganronpa, and many of the 2D areas also have 3D designs to them.  That is something that has improved a bit.  Overall, though, it is very much similar.  There will be a lot of 2D visuals around and no many sequences with full-blown, PS3 level graphics.

One thing to talk about is how the game plays.  For the most part, there are short load times and everything plays just fine.  However, there is a glitch in the game that people will want to be aware of.  When we played through this game, there was one instance where an event was trying to trigger while walking around a 3D environment.  When this happened, a glitch happened.  The environment was gone and we were stuck.  We saved and re-loaded that file and it was still glitched.  So, as you play the game, you will want to have a spare save file at all times, just in case.

Overall

Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair is arguably as good, if not better than the first game.  The story is longer, the trials and exploration are much more interactive, and there are story twists that make the first game’s twists look basic.  While there are some glitches gamers need to watch out for, if you’re into visual novels or mystery games, you can’t go wrong with this purchase.

The PlayStation Vita Review Network Rates Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair an 9/10

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