Girls night out.
Having handled the reviews for both Danganronpa 1 & 2, which both scored an excellent 9 out of 10, it’s plain as day that I’m a big fan of the series at this point.
However, when Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls was first announced to be a third person shooter, I was equal parts surprised and concerned at what this could mean for the series as a whole.
After all, the Danganronpa series made its name as some of the best stories in gaming using a visual novel format, just how exactly would that storytelling translate to a completely different genre?
Having spent the night out in the town with Komaru and Toko, busting up Monokumas and bringing hope to the denizens of Towa City, I can safely say that it translates quite well.
Platforms: Vita Exclusive
Voice Acting: English Only
Length: 15 – 20 hours
For those who are unfamiliar with Danganronpa, I recommend you stop reading this review right now and instead go read the review for the first Danganronpa, here.
The reason for this is that because you’re missing out an excellent game and also, it just happens that Ultra Despair Girls is in actuality, Danganronpa 1.5.
The events in this title takes place during the time between 1 and 2- meaning that playing this ahead of time will basically spoil everything about the Danganronpa which would be a shame indeed.
For those that are familiar with the world of Danganronpa, let me be frank and say that the story presented in Ultra Despair Girls is not nearly as mind-blowing as the previous two games.
This is mostly due to the nature of the genre, as while there is a substantial emphasis on dialogue and character development, there isn’t nearly as much as what a visual novel would allow.
However, while the engrossing “Who Done It” murder mystery scenarios are absent, the overall tone and feel of Ultra Despair Girls remains true to the series.
The grim, macabre plot where no character feels truly safe is still present and strong, along with the contrasting, lighthearted humor that play off each other so well.
I want to keep this review as spoiler free as possible so I won’t go into any particular details, but even I felt a little squeamish at times as I watched some truly wretched things happen to innocent people.
As for the actual gameplay, most of it revolves around the use of a versatile hacking gun. As the story progresses, Komaru is givens new ammo types to use with the gun that each have a unique functionality.
There’s the “Break” ammo that serves as the standard shot that deals damage, and then there’s “Dance” which makes the Monokuma dance in place which works as a stun of sorts.
Many combat scenarios are presented like puzzles where there’s a way to use the ammo types in a clever way to destroy all the Monokumas at once. Given that even in the normal mode ammo can be scarce at times, it helps to think up a strategy to conserve ammo and get the chapter score bonus for finishing the “puzzles” as intended.
The player can also switch over to Toko’s split personality Genocide Jack at any given time, as long as they have some battery power to use with her stun gun.
Genocide Jack is invincible, and makes short work of even the biggest army of Monokumas, so it makes sense that her usage is limited to how much battery power the player has.
There are upgrades to both the hacking gun and Genocide Jack which can be purchased with coins earned from chests and defeating Monokumas.
There’s also a steady introduction of new enemy types as the game progresses, which along with the new ammo that gets unlocked, keeps the pacing steady without any real down time which culminates in a big boss fight at the end of each chapter.
Unfortunately, during the more hectic encounters, I noticed a significant drop in frame rates which made the game stutter quite a bit, making aiming for precise weak points quite difficult.
Despite the drastic change in gameplay styles, Ultra Despair Girls succeeds not only in staying true to the overall tone and feel of the series, but also in providing a fresh experience to the fans that might have grown weary of the visual novel formula.
Fun Tidbit – I’ve been ending a lot of my reviews with fan service screenshots lately so this time, this one’s for the ladies.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.