A nice time at the beach, murdering your friends.
It wasn’t too long after my play through of Danganronpa that I heard news of the sequel getting localized for the States.
Given how much I enjoyed Danganronpa, I was pawsitibly giddy at anticipation for what hopeless situation I would be thrown into this time around.
However, when I finally loaded up “Goodbye Despair” for the first time, I was hit with an overwhelming sense of déjà vu, and the worry that this might just be a rehash of the original began to form.
Fortunately, the more I delved into the depths of despair, I found my concerns were for naught, and that I was in for one hell of a ride.
Platforms: Vita Exclusive.
Voice Acting: Includes both JPN/ENG (choose wisely as you can’t change mid-playthrough).
Demo Availability: N/A
Length: 20-25 hours for main campaign and more with extras that unlock after completion.
Before I start, I will say that if you haven’t played Danganronpa, you stop reading this review immediately and go play that instead.
It’s not that I’m going to spoil anything from the first title, but it would simply be a much better use of your time. If you need further convincing, feel free to read the review I wrote for the first title here.
With that out of the way, I will simply say that the scale and scope of the story in Danganronpa 2 surpasses the original in basically all facets.
There are many more locations to explore than ever before, and the murders are some of the most creative and elaborate bits of homicide in fiction history.
Given that I was well versed in the adventures of Naegi and company, I thought that experience would have given me greater insight and a bit of an advantage as far as peering into the greater truth.
Little did I know that they had anticipated that fact, and expertly used that knowledge and expectations against me,so much to the point where I felt like I was being manipulated constantly to believe one thing when the truth was beyond my imagining.
It’s a brilliant bit of writing, and the various twists and turns the story takes during its epic reveal had me up at 4AM gripping my Vita tight with sweaty hands just to find out what might happen next.
The pacing also felt just right with the right mix of conversing, investigating and of course, the centerpiece of the whole experience, the class trials.
While the act of progress was exciting enough, I felt a real sense of dread at the thought of discovering the body of a beloved character and sending another to his/her doom just so that the rest of us could be spared. It’s a testament to the cast of likeable characters that made me feel this way.
Along with a wonderful soundtrack that feels out of place and yet indispensable at the same time, it’s quite hard to describe the overall feel of Danganronpa but it certainly has an identity of its own.
Unfortunately, not everything is bloody knives and disemboweled heads, as I must once again mirror the complaints I made about the previous title.
There are simply too many mechanics on display that do little to add variety, and end up being a bit of fluff, which at worst become an annoyance more than anything else.
One example of this is the brand new “Logic Dive” system where the player is forced to play a crude racing game of sorts, where they must dodge obstacles while answering case-based questions.
They also added more elements to the rhythm based panic talk action and hangman’s gambit, which adds the kind of difficulty to the title that isn’t satisfying to overcome while injecting a dose of unnecessary frustration.
I hate to sound like a broken record, but as I’ve said many times in the past, more isn’t always better. When developers end up throwing in mechanics that feel out of place, they become unsightly hindrances to be overcome- all the while perpetuating the notion that they have little confidence in what makes their core experience worthwhile.
Still, at the end of the day, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair is one of the most fun and exciting visual novel games on the market. While the PlayStation platform may never get their hands on the Ace Attorney series, I believe Danganronpa has reached a similar level of prestige and quality.
Hell, with a few more titles of this caliber under their belt, they might even surpass them.
Fun Tidbit: There’s a great deal of added content that unlocks as the player progresses through the story and a bunch more when they complete the main campaign! Also, there is a serious lack of bear puns in the sequel compared to the original and I decided to follow suit by only using one bear pun in the whole review.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.