Review: Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair (PSV/PSTV)

danganronpa-2-review-banner

Platforms:

  • PlayStation Vita

Extras:

  • PlayStation TV Compatible Yes
Title: Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair
Format: Game Card / PlayStation Network Download (1.5 GB)
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Publisher: NIS America / Spike
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Original MSRP: $39.99
ESRB Rating: M
Super Danganronpa 2 was originally available on PlayStation Portable in Japan only. This is a remake of that game and is exclusive to PlayStation Vita.
The PlayStation Vita download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

In the follow-up to the surprise hit Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair moves the franchise from Hope’s Peak Academy to a tropical island for a bigger deadlier adventure. Can the the sequel build upon the first game’s strong debut?

Danganronpa 2 opens much like the previous game did, where students hoping to attend Hope Peak’s Academy arrive on the first day of school only to learn they’ve walked into a trap. The students are transported to a tropical island by the not so evil Usami for a field trip/vacation.

Unfortunately, plans take a turn for the worse when the evil teddy bear Monokuma takes over and informs the students that they are trapped on the island unless they start murdering each other until there is only one left standing. In a game of life or death it is only a matter of time before the island and the game get to the teens. The player assumes the role of Hajime Hinata, a student who has amnesia and needs to keep it together to find a way for everyone to get safely off the island.

Danganronpa2-review2

Gameplay:
Gameplay breaks down to two major parts: Island Mode and the Class Trial. In Island Mode the game is about exploring the surrounding area in hopes of finding any information on the ones behind the island or a way off of it. Mostly though, that time is spent talking to your fellow students and getting to know them as much as possible until the next story sequence begins.

Interacting with other characters can be interesting from time to time as you learn more about their past and earn Hope Fragments which unlock special skills that can be used later during the Class Trials. For the most part these conversations are forgettable, save for a couple interesting stories, and are usually just worth doing for the Hope Fragments and skill opportunities. The stories told can be outlandish and sometimes downright silly which is understandable since a couple of the characters are over the top.

You can bypass interacting with other students by forcing your character to go to sleep anytime free time is presented and after a couple sleep sessions the next major story sequence will begin. Honestly, Island Mode will only be enjoyable if you actually begin to care for any of the characters. There are some interesting characters and they become even more so after some deaths happen and the roster of students begins to dwindle down.

Danganronpa2-review4

When Island Mode is done it usually means something terrible has happened like the murder of a student. When a murder takes place Monokuma is thrilled because now the students have to enter the Class Trial. First a crime scene investigation takes place and Hajime must gather all the clues available in order to use them as “Truth Bullets” in the Class Trial. The crime scene investigation is meticulous and fun while never being challenging since you cannot leave the crime scene until every clue has been found and inspected. Once that is all uncovered, the trial begins.

The Class Trial is set up so that the murderer must be chosen correctly or that individual will be allowed to escape and the other students will be executed for their failure. If the students pick the correct individual that person will face a severely harsh and entertaining death. The Trial features multiple sections that have highs and lows in terms of fun and enjoyment.

All trials begin with a Nonstop Debate, where the students begin to go over the crime scene. It is up to you to find any contradictions or parts that you agree with using the Truth Bullets found during your investigation. The Nonstop Debate is fast paced and the player has to shoot the Truth Bullets at specific segments in the debate using either the Touch Screen or pressing a button. Too many incorrect shots will lead to a health meter depleting. If that meter is fully depleted the trial ends and Hajime is found guilty and is executed.

20140227172635

Other aspects of the trial include the Hangman’s Gambit which involve letters flying across the screen at various angles. The player must then match two letters together to use them in solving the simple hangman puzzle. Usually after that a Panic Talk Action is presented when a aggressive character challenges Hajime and they battle in a rhythm game in order to breakdown the challenger’s defenses.

A new element introduced in the sequel is the Rebuttal Showdown which pits characters against each other. The key is to slash your opponents arguments using the touch screen
until a weak point is presented and can be struck down with a Truth Bullet also called a Truth Sword for this particular section.

Now after some time going between the previously mentioned sections a character usually cracks or is found to be the killer and the Closing Argument is ready to be made. In the Closing Argument a manga needs to be completed with the player filling in blank panels to put the murderer at the scene of the crime. After all that is done the trial is over and with that the chapter is complete.

Danganronpa2-review3

The trails are fun for the most part, but can drag a little too long. The game does its best to change things up by making everything after the Nonstop Debate appear in a different order to avoid falling into a repetitive trial in each chapter. There is a also a recess built into each trial around the halfway point where the player is reminded to save their game.

The story and characters are what keep the trials entertaining because the minigames just are not meaty enough to stand on their own and that is fine since this game is meant to tell a story first.

Visuals:
The presentation is a mix of 2D and 3D with most backgrounds having some depth to them and the characters being flat 2D models. The art is pleasing outside of some borderline inappropriate choices with character models or scenes.

Danganronpa2-review

The game features anime clichés that can make the game difficult to enjoy in a public space, as I found out at the airport. It looks sharp and it’s colorful with the islands having a good variety in backgrounds and locations helping keep a fresh look throughout the experience.

Audio:
If you played the first game most of the music tracks are reused. This is not a deal breaker by any means, but a little disappointing. If you played the first game, which came over to North America and Europe earlier this year, that means you have listened to a lot of tracks over and over already.

Voice acting in the game is strong, but also falls into some very anime-like clichés with over-cutesy sounding characters and over-abrasive characters. That comes with the territory and should not bother players too much who are familiar with the culture, but it could rub players the wrong way if they’re not used to over the top acting.

20140224121436

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single player only with no online connectivity.

Conclusion:
Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair is an entertaining title that helps establish the franchise with a good follow up game. It stumbles here and there with the gameplay, but is held up by its story. It’s pretty long, which from time to time hurt the game as it felt as if it was dragging a bit in some areas. The mystery that comes with each trial keeps you hooked though the game relies too much on twists and turns in almost every one and not every twist and turn is earned. The game does not take itself too serious and does not mind making fun of itself which was refreshing.

All in all Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair is a good game with some flaws here and there, but overall these do not take away from what is a solid entry to a potential franchise and it should find an audience with the mystery-adventure genre fans.

Score:
7.0

* All screenshots used in this review were provided by the publisher.

Flag_of_the_United_States.svg
Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg
Flag_of_Canada.svg

 

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook