Danganronpa 1.2 Reload
Developed by Spike Chunsoft
Published by Spike Chunsoft & NIS America
*Please Note: This Review is of the PlayStation 4 Version*
Before I start this review off I will be splitting each section up to talk about each game just to avoid confusion. So without further ado.
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc:
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc follows the life of Makoto Naegi who gets into a prestigious school called Hope’s Peak Academy. Hope’s Peak is best known for only allowing the best to get into the school such as the “Ultimate Pop Sensation”, “Ultimate Biker Gang Leader”, “Ultimate Baseball Star” & “Ultimate Fashionista” to name a few yet the school holds a lucky draw for one ordinary student to also attend. Upon getting picked out of this draw; Makoto is then classed as the “Ultimate Lucky Student” and makes his way to start his new life at the school where if you graduate you are set for life. Upon arriving at the school; Makoto passes out and wakes up a little bit later to find that things seem off since the windows are all sealed. After eventually meeting up with his other classmates; they meet the headmaster who is a teddy bear called Monokuma who passes on the information that they will have to live out the rest of their lives in the school or they can graduate by murdering a fellow classmate. At first the group sets out to harmonize and live together while trying to find a way out of the school however as time passes by and new information comes to light; the murders begin and the fight for survival begins.
This is as much information as I’m willing to divulge since I don’t want to spoil any of the deaths or the mystery for the game but please do know that this games story was remarkable and had me on the edge of my seat constantly. It’s been a good long time since a video games story has had me gripped in the way this one has.
Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair:
Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair puts you in control of Hajime Hinata who sets out to start his new school life at Hope’s Peak Academy; A school where only the best can attend and if a student graduates is set for life. After crossing the gates to Hope’s Peak however Hajime blacks out and awakens to find a mysterious door. Upon walking through; he meets all of his classmates and his “teacher” Usami; A Magical stuffed toy rabbit who transports the students to a beautiful tropical location called Jabberwock Island. They are told by Usami to learn how to bond and spend time on the island being happy and to forget about Hope’s Peak. While skeptical at first; Hajime starts to enjoy his vacation with his classmates until things go horribly wrong when the trip is overtaken by the evil teddy bear; Monokuma who tells the students the only way they can leave the island is if they start to kill one another while also keeping them from going out of place with his giant Monobeasts and disfiguring Usami into a female version of himself called Monomi. While all the students decide to not listen to him and continue to enjoy their vacation; The murders begin and the investigations get under way as Hajime and his friends fight for hope among true despair.
Like I put for the first game, this is as much information as I’m willing to divulge because I don’t want to spoil the murders or executions in the game because a lot of the fun to the game is the mystery of finding out who done it but like the first game; the story for Goodbye Despair did have me on the edge of my seat as I awaited to see what would happen next. I love when the stories for video games can captivate me and this game and it’s predecessor have done it in a way that I haven’t experienced in a long time.
All in all, the stories for both Danganronpa titles are fun, gripping murder mysteries that don’t cease to amaze me and it literally feels like someone has mixed Phoenix Wright with Saw which to me is a very interesting combination that works surprisingly well.
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc:
The gameplay in Trigger Happy Havoc plays very similarly to an interactive novel as you take control of Makoto Naegi. The gameplay is split into multiple sections with the first part of each chapter sort of being like a day to day activity section. During these sections you will be exploring the school looking for possible exits to escape using the left analogue stick to move Makoto while also using the right analogue stick to look around. In these sections you will also get access to some free time where you can bond with the other students and build up friendships to earn special perks which you can use in the class trial sections (Which I will get into a little bit later). The main focus of these day to day sections is to interact with fellow students to try and discover a little bit more about your situation with the dialogue occasionally giving a reactionary option of dialogue which can trigger a different conversation by pressing the triangle button. This section continues until the murder of a student occurs which then brings us into the second section of the gameplay.
So the second section of each chapter is called Investigation Mode in which the game starts to play out a lot more like a Phoenix Wright title until the end of the chapters. The investigation mode sees you searching through the schools different rooms, observing the crime scene and talking to your fellow students to gather evidence in the form of truth bullets for use in the class trial section. The interesting thing about all the evidence you gather is that when it comes to the class trial section of the game you really need to pay very close attention to each small detail since it could decide the difference between life and death. Once all the evidence has been gathered you move onto the third and final sections of each chapter (Which also happens to be the most fun section).
So the third and final section of each chapter is the class trials which are easily the most fun sections of the games since they have a tendency to be highly intense, very tactful and ultimately, each decision and each evidence choice could result in a life or death situation. This takes the form of a sort of; Courtroom scenario in which you have to present the different evidence that you have found to try and find the culprit of the murder. This is done by using your evidence in the form of truth bullets which you aim at false statements by your fellow classmates or at points later in the game; even absorb these false statements to help further your argument while the game also throws obstacles at you in the form of white lines which block the potential false statements preventing you from shooting at them. These require you to use a silencer which is activated by pressing a different trigger button in order to shoot them . At points during the class trials you will have to face other obstacles and mini-games to progress the case such as Hangman’s Gambit which requires you to shoot specific letters to spell out a vital clue and the one on one arguments. Once you beat the game; you have access to school mode which allows you to interact with your fellow students in a full free time mode allowing you to bond with your classmates and fill out the report cards of your fellow students.
All in all, the gameplay is perfect with traces of Ace Attorney combined with a sort of social link system that works similarly to that of the Persona series.
Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair:
The gameplay in Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair plays similarly to it’s predecessor however it improves upon that gameplay in pretty much every aspect. In this game; you take control of Hajime Hinata and much like the previous game; your chapters are split into sections with the first chapters once again being based heavily around the day to day activities. Now I should mention before I continue that this game introduces something completely new to the game in the form of a leveling up system. In this game pretty much everything from walking around the island to picking up collectables nets you experience and which upon gaining a level earns you skill points which you can use towards helpful skills which can benefit you in the class trials. One thing that returns in this game is the exploration element however instead of the exploration focusing from a first person perspective; It takes the form of a virtual pedometer in a side-scrolling style in which you explore the island. Upon discovering the body; you enter the investigation mode in which you must search the island and ask fellow classmates questions in order to gather vital clues that could determine the ultimate outcome of your choice during the class trial. During this section; you must explore some locations in different parts of the island to find clues and talk to your classmates using gameplay which can only be referred to as point and click with the game also giving you the opportunity to find out which items you can click by pressing one of the trigger buttons. In addition to this, during these sections you can also find hidden Monokuma’s scattered across the island which can help you net some extra coins and experience which help towards special perks during the class trials.
As with the previous game; the third and final sections of each chapter is the class trials which like the first game are easily the most fun and exciting parts of the gameplay. Like the first game; the class trials take the form of a courtroom scenario in which you discuss the details of the murder and the evidence you have gathered with your fellow classmates to discover the culprits. During these segments you will need to give rebuttals to your fellow classmates false statements which are displayed in orange or agree with statements which are in blue using truth bullets you gather through collecting evidence while also getting rid of white noise lines with a silencer in the normal or higher difficulties. In addition to this you will also need to sometimes present statements or evidence by selecting them from a simple selection screen (much like it’s predecessor). Now this is where things get interesting as this game heavily improves upon all the different little mini-games that you must undertake in order to discover the true culprit. These changes include the Hangman’s Gambit which changes from just shooting the correct letters to now having letters come from all around the screen on a direct pathway. The letters that do not match cannot collide or else the player will lose points in the player’s influence gage. Matching letters must be combined and then selected in order to form the word. The other mini-game which changes in this entry is the Bullet Time Battle which changes to Panic Talk Action in which you must press the buttons in sync to weaken the shielded heart of the true blackened until it comes time to prove your argument in which four words (Sometimes fragments of words, and even numbers in one instance.) will be displayed in the top, bottom, left and right of the screen. The circle, triangle, square and cross buttons each match one word. Instead of presenting a Truth Bullet, you must combine those four words correctly. Then the argument will be formed, and the final contradiction will tear your opponent’s argument to shreds. These new features are not only fun but present something fresh to the gameplay while also keeping it familiar. Most of the other mini-games remain the same and this game includes 2 brand new ones in the form of the Logic Dive which blends racing, platforming and quizzing together as you run and jump over obstacles while racing an ever moving path to try and answer a question correctly by running down a correct path. The other new feature is the Rebuttal Showdown which can spring up at any point during a class trial and throws you into a 1 on 1 debate with a fellow classmate replacing bullets with blades as you slash through their contradicting statements. These are 2 fresh new gameplay elements that builds upon an already exciting part of the game and then to round out everything; there is some slight changes to the gameplay for the closing argument in that you are now given a certain number of images in different orders and you need to check them all off before you receive your next set of images.
Once you beat the game (like the first game); you gain access to Island Mode which works very similarly to the school mode in that you can explore the island at your own will and bond with your classmates to fully fill out their report cards/friendship shards. In addition to this, the game also features another new mode called Magical Girl Miracle Monomi; In which you take control of Monomi and attack Monokuma’s forces with jumping, attacks with special weapons and power-ups and then ultimately facing off against the Monobeasts which acts as Monokuma’s guardians of the different parts of the island which you must take down to complete the level.
All in all, the gameplay in Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair improves on almost every aspect of the previous game while also adding to the gameplay in more ways than one with brand new modes and new mini-games.
Overall; The gameplay for both titles in this collection are phenomenal and honestly some of the best gameplay experiences I’ve ever had in my life. This game is truly a defining experience in the genre of Visual Novel and has a feeling that it combines the gameplay of Phoenix Wright (As I mentioned in the gameplay section of the first game) with the styling of Saw. All in all, this might actually be one of the strongest features of this game.
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc:
Much like the gameplay section; I adored nearly every single aspect of the sound section for Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc. The music is superbly composed by Masafumi Takada (No More Heroes, The Evil Within) who gets the perfect balance between wacky and sinister which suits the games style of storytelling. Some personal highlights for me from the games soundtrack include the main theme, the detention of the unlucky and Game Over; which while only short in terms of an audio clip has sent chills down my spine every single time I hear it.
The voice acting in Trigger Happy Havoc is fantastic as the actors convey all of the right emotions such as scared, empathetic and when the story needed it; Hopeful. The talented voice cast of Trigger Happy Havoc includes some great performances from Bryce Papenbrook (Sword Art Online) who voices lead protagonist; Makoto Naegi, Erika Harlacher (Persona 5) as the mysterious student; Kyoko Kirigiri and probably the most memorable performance comes from Brian Beacock (Dragon Ball Super) who voices the menacing antagonist of the series; Monokuma. The game also has great performances from the other supporting characters and classmates such as Cassandra Lee Morris as Aoi Asahina, Erin Fitzgerald as Touko Fukawa aswell as Junko Enoshima & Keith Silverstein as Mondo Ohwada.
All in all, the sound section as a whole is incredible in Trigger Happy Havoc and I cannot praise it enough.
Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair:
Much like the game itself; Goodbye Despair takes everything that made it’s predecessor great and builds upon it in terms of the sound section. The score is once again composed by Masafumi Takada who once again brings that perfect blend of Wacky and Sinister however for this entry there is an added tropical theme to the score which fits it’s beautiful island setting. Some of the stand out tracks in this game include Ms. Monomi’s Practice Lesson, Tropical Despair & Welcome DANGAN IsLand!!.
Like the music; the voice cast ups the ante this time around with the same emotions being portrayed along with some new subjects such as excitement, true loyalty and if you read between the lines of dialogue even a potential romance. The voice cast is top notch in Goodbye Despair much like it’s predecessor with some great performances from Johnny Yong Bosch (Persona 4) who portrays the protagonist; Hajime Hinata; A boy who is skeptical about the island and stops at nothing to try and survive, Bryce Papenbrook (Attack on Titan) who not only reprises his role of Makoto Naegi (Briefly) but also portrays new character; Nagito Komeada; Both of which are classed as the Ultimate Lucky Student, Christine Marie Cabanos (Sword Art Online) who portrays Chiaki Nanami who serves as Hajime’s crime solving partner in certain chapters of the game and of course; Brian Beacock & Rebecca Forstadt who voice the mascot characters; Monokuma, The main antagonist of the series who wants nothing more than to see the students fall into despair & Monomi; the kind female counterpart to Monokuma who tries to help the students survive the killing game.
The supporting cast of characters include another very talented cast like the first game such as Kyle Hebert (Street Fighter V) as Kazuichi Soda, Patrick Seitz (Mortal Kombat X) as Nekomaru Nidai, Kira Buckland (Nier: Automata) as Hiyoko Saionji & Julie Ann Taylor (Soul Calibur IV) as Ibuki Mioda just to name a few.
All in all, the sound section for Goodbye Despair is damn near perfect.
In terms of the graphics for both titles; they take the visual art style of a Manga with the characters having designs very similar to that of anime characters. In terms of the characters; the standout design is easily Monokuma who is divided at the center by 2 parts; One side Black and one side White. This is reminiscent of a Yin-Yang symbol with the white side representing the cute and cuddly side to the character while the black side represents the more sinister side since it is also complete with a red eye and evil smile which symbolizes the pure evil inside. The designs on the other characters are really well drawn and characters like Monomi and the Monobeasts are done to perfection in the sequel to really make the sequel feel more intense.
The settings of each of the games is interesting in their designs aswell with the first game having many different areas accessible to the player despite being limited to the school’s walls. These rooms include a lab/morgue, a garden area, a pool and a Library just to name a few with each location looking extremely unique. More so, the sequel increases the amount of places you can visit including an airport and a karaoke bar as a few examples. The camera perspectives change in each game with the first game taking a first person view from the perspective of Makoto Naegi as he searches the halls of Hope’s Peak Academy while the second game takes on a side scrolling perspective as you explore the island as Hajime. While I love every single aspect of the visuals; I still have a personal stand-out for the visuals and that is the “Punishment” (Execution) scenes with the very first execution in the first game giving me chills and having a lasting effect on me; especially when combined with the game over effects and the murderer (Not spoiling with a name or gender) screaming as they are about to be dragged off to their death.
All in all, the visuals for both games are perfect with both being similar but also changing things up between installments.
So after playing through both of these titles for the first time; I am proud to say that not only did I love every single aspect of both titles but I also may even class this series among one of my favorites that I’ve ever played in my many years of gaming. The stories are gripping and constantly have you second guessing what troubles lurk on the horizon while also making you laugh and have fun in between murders. The gameplay takes the already brilliant formulas put in place with the Ace Attorney series and puts a wacky spin on it that combines it with the traps of the Saw movie franchise. The soundtrack and voice acting are superb and the visual styles are just incredible. Add in the fact that both games contain a lot of replay value with the story modes of both games plus the extra modes and the trophies that are there for trophy hunters.
All in all, these games are phenomenal titles that I would urge anybody to try and play since I honestly can’t think of anything bad to say about them. Add in the fact that this compilation includes both games meaning you get 2 incredible games for less than the price of one.
Score = 10/10
- Fantastic Stories
- Excellent Gameplay
- Extra Modes are fun and help build up the characters
- Brilliant Scores from Masafumi Takada
- Fantastic Voice Acting all around
- Beautiful art styles
- Plenty of replay value
Danganronpa 1.2 Reload is available now for PS4, PS Vita & PC. Thanks go out to NIS America for supplying the game and assets used in this review. Be sure to let me know what you thought of the review in the comments section below and be sure to stay tuned to UGNN for all your gaming news and reviews and remember to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Review by Matthew McNamee