Review | Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair
Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair decides to swap out the school setting that the first game utilized in favor of a tropical island setting with a new cast of characters.
These sixteen characters are students who have been selected as the “Ultimate” of something. Sonia, for instance, is the “Ultimate Princess,” while Ibuki holds the title of “Ultimate Musician”. Surprisingly, however, these students have been drugged and forced to the island by a weird rabbit-like robot that goes by the name of Usami.
Though Hajime, the character you are in control of throughout the game, has a bad feeling, it seems that Usami doesn’t have any evil or sinister intentions. In fact, she insists that the only thing you need to do in order to escape is simply get along with each other, earning what’s known as “Hope fragments”.
Of course this premise wouldn’t make for the most interesting murder mystery game, so Monokuma decides to pop up and steal control of the island from Usami, forcing her to use the name “Monomi” and changing her appearance upon defeating her. He then starts up the killing games.
The gameplay of Danganronpa 2 is similar to that in the first game. You have off days, in which you can wander around the island and/or spend time with your classmates in order to learn more about them. As you learn more about your friends, you gain the aforementioned fragments, which can be utilized to obtain new skills for the classroom trials you will undergo.
These trials task you with discovering the “blackened”, or the murderer who committed the deed. If you fail to prove who this person is and the class votes incorrectly (utilizing a majority vote), everybody except the murderer will be killed by Monokuma while said murderer gets to walk free. If you are successful, however, only the murderer will be killed.
During the trials, everybody will share their thoughts on the case. You will need to either disprove the yellow colored statements with evidence (or testimony) that you’ve uncovered or support the blue colored statements to help bring the truth to light. It isn’t quite this easy, however, as later in the game white noise will begin appearing, covering parts of the screen. You’ll need to utilize either the console’s rear touch pad or aim with the analog stick and hit “X” to shoot them. Clearing this noise grants you time (1-3 seconds), however shooting an actual statement costs you 30 seconds.
Overall, the gameplay setup works very well for the most part, although there were a few portions I had trouble with. I was presented with a question to which I knew the answer, but wasn’t sure which of two or three pieces of evidence needed to be presented. Unfortunately I had screwed up during the trial earlier, so I failed, causing the group to decide that I/Hajime was the murderer.
And this is where the only real issue I had in the game comes in. A couple of times, this failure to match up evidence and commentary on my part came at the end of a trial. Since I had proven every other point I was making, it just felt unnatural that, in these cases the group would vote against Hajime.
The final component of the trials comes in the form of mini-games. First up is called Hangman’s Gambit, in which letters float across the screen. It’s your job in this mini-game to match up pairs of letters and then use the triangle button to fire them when you’ve figured out the answer to the question posed during the game.
Another mini-game is known as Logic Dive. In this, you are on what appears to be a snowboard, moving down a cylindrical course. During the course, you will be asked three questions, given multiple options. Choosing the correct answer will let you advance, however choosing the wrong one will put you on a path that comes to an abrupt end, dropping you into a pit.
The game’s story was quite interesting, thanks to both the unique characters and the interesting twists and turns that the narrative employs. These twists and turns arise as early as the very first murder, and, to be honest, a couple of the murders turned out completely differently than my investigation had led me to believe. In fact, I do not believe that any of the murders occurred exactly as I expected, and that just made the game even more fun, especially when combined with the fact that I always felt something when one of the characters died, perhaps because of my luck of always getting close to one who dies during the chapter I’m on.
Once you have finished the game, you unlock two more modes (one mode is unlocked as you progress through the game, not limited to being unlocked at the end). I won’t go into details (unless asked, in which case I shall try to phrase any answers in order to keep it as spoiler-free as possible), but suffice to say the modes kept me entertained for many hours after I finished the main storyline.
In the end, Danganronpa 2 proved to be an outstanding title that I enjoyed very much. Honestly, if you’re a fan of murder mysteries and/or the first game, you should definitely give Danganronpa 2 a shot, as it is an extremely high quality title that is sure to keep your attention at least throughout the story.
Final Score: 4.5/5