Dangan Ronpa 2: Goodbye Despair
As a huge fan of the first game I have been waiting for Dangan Ronpa 2: Goodbye Despair to come out for months. So when I got the text from gamestop telling me that my pre-order came in I rushed over on the release date and bought it. Now some of you here might be like “Midnight, the fack is a Dangan Ronpa!?” so I will be more than happy to tell you what it is. Dangan Ronpa is a Murder Mystery, Psychological, Urban Fantasy, Action Adventure game. The premise of the second game starts with you on an Island having a “Love-Dovey School Trip.” Where the goal is to collect Hope Fragments by getting closer to your classmates.
This peace and quiet lasts all of about twenty minutes into the game. Then the real plot begins, where the evil Monokuma or Mono Bear takes over the School trip and turns it into the “Killing School Trip.”, the gameplay is pretty similar to the first game with some small things added.
The first thing I noticed that really stood out was the addition of a digital pet you could take care of that grew depending on how much your character walked. It had a hope and despair meter that helps decide what it will grow into. Despair is gained by ignoring it and letting its home get messy and hope is obtained by giving it gifts. I’m not entirely sure what comes from maxing out the despair vs maxing out the hope but I thought it was a neat little feature and doing it helps you get skills, items and coins to buy items.
Most of the other new feature take place during the class trails and I’ll talk about them later. Let’s look at characters and plot. The cast of both games is a set of students from a high school known as Hopes Peak Academy. The requirements to attend Hopes Peak are that you’re already in High School and that the school itself scouts you out for being the very best at what you do. The cast of characters in this game include Hajime Hinata, this is the players avatar for a majority of the game his ultimate talent is unknown.
Nagito Komeada, the Ultimate Lucky Student. Byakuya Togami? The Ultimate Affluent progeny. Gundham Tanaka, the Ultimate Breeder. Kazuichi Soda, the Ultimate Mechanic. TeruTeru Hanamura, the Ultimate Cook. Nekomaru Midai, the Ultimate Team Manager. Fukuhiro Kuzuryu, the Ultimate Yakuza. Akane Owari, the Ultimate Gymnast. Chiaki Nanami the Ultimate Gamer. Sonia Nevermind, the Ultimate Princess. Hiyoko Saionji, the Ultimate Traditional Dancer. Mahiru Koizumi, the Ultimate photographer. Mikan Tsumiki, the Ultimate Nurse. Ibuki Mioda, the Ultimate Musician and Peko Pekoyama, the Ultimate swordswoman. Each character is fun and interesting, though since this is a murder mystery game you don’t get as much time to appreciate some as much as the others. That’s the benefit of the post-game island mode. In which you can take time to get to know all the characters that may have died too soon in the main story for you really to connect with.
There are two more things you can access from the main menu after you play a bit of the main story. One of these being the mini-game called Magical Miracle Girl Monomi. The other thing is the novel mode, which presents a ‘What-If’ story based off the first game. The story focuses solidly on Mukuro, the Ultimate Solider and sister of Junko Enoshima. It’s just something to read, though I think it would be a nice game mode. The Magical Girl Minigame is sort of boring, kind of repetitive with little difference in levels, attack or anything. You get items to upgrade Monomi but I think it would be a lot more fun if it actually changed her appearance in the mini-game. It’s good to pass some time mindlessly and does get you a trophy but that’s about all it’s good for.
As for the story and how it stacks up against the story of the first game. THIS WAS FANTASTIC! I was really big into the first game and played it to the point I actually got all the PSN trophies so I was a little nervous that the second game wouldn’t stack up to it. I was wrong. In particular the last chapter of the game was so intense with its plot twists and additions of facts that made everything else in the game come together. It had to be some of the most intense storytelling in a game I’ve seen in a very long time. The final trial of the game also has some of the characters from the first game in it for a brief time, so it was a real treat for someone who enjoyed the first game as much as I did to see those characters return even if it was for a short period of time. The class trials themselves run very similar to the way they did in the first game. However, they added certain aspects that make them slightly harder. The first big change I want to talk about is the change they made to Hangmans Gambit. I HATE this update, they made this FAR harder than it was in the first game, It’ll make an achievement like “Go through a trial without taking any damage” almost impossible. I don’t really know how to describe how they changed it in words but it was a bad choice and makes the Hangmans Gambit really fucking hard. The next added feature is the Logic Dive. This mini-game features Hajime skateboarding along a virtual sort of cylinder and moving to the correct paths of logic by skateboarding to the correct answers. This is actually a lot of fun and a wonderful addition to the gameplay. The very last new gameplay aspect is the truth blade, in which you cut through other peoples rebuttals and then cut through it with evidence. This is fun but can be a pain in the ass at times.
My major issue is that maybe it’s just my Vita, or maybe my copy of the game but I experienced MULTIPLE game crashes. At one point I didn’t save through the entire chapter, so when the game glitched I lost an entire chapters worth of progress. I don’t know if this happened to anyone else but if it did, this was a major flaw to the game.
Anything from this point on will be spoilers so if you want to play the game yourself, please stop reading here. Here’s a picture of Monokuma to look at so you don’t see anything.
The story itself, in detail is absolutely amazing. It follows a lot of patrons from the first game but manages to do them without making it seem like it’s copying the first game even stopping to take shots at itself when things get to similar. Monokuma reveals the memory loss plot quickly and says that it’s a tired old trope and isn’t interesting anymore. The reveal of a ‘Serial Killer’ amongst the group in the second case is slept through and mumbled “This again?” by Monokuma. The game is more than willing to take a few shots at itself when needed. Of course, just because it pokes fun at them or passes them off as things that aren’t a big deal doesn’t mean they don’t have something to do with the plot. For example the memory loss plot drives a lot of the games conflict, all building up to the most epic reveal I could imagine in Chapter 6. Something so mind blowing, that it made everything in the game suddenly make sense.
You’re basically playing as the series villains.
From the very beginning of the game, up until the very end the entire thing seems strange. It becomes very apparent at one point that you’re in a game of sorts. A virtual world that your avatar has been uploaded into. Why you may ask were these High-School kids locked away in a virtual world? Well as we all know from the end of the first game, the world is basically destroyed by the biggest, baddest, most tragic event in human history. These kids, in this virtual world are remints of the despair left behind by Junko Enoshima. This virtual world, was created so they could gain back hope and then their avatars could be uploaded into their real bodies. Their real bodies may not even look like the ones in the virtual world anymore, in chapter zero, we see the character Nagito with his arm cut off and replaced with Junko’s arm.
Apparently this is only the tip of the ice burg of things people did to parts of Junko after she died at the end of the first game. I really don’t want to say what the game mentions, I can barely think about it without feeling sick to my stomach but I will say they don’t hold anything back. This blew my mind, and when you look back on it from chapter 6 everything that you may have questioned or wondered about. Every motive that may have seemed suspicious to you, suddenly falls into place. The reason the program changed from a world that was supposed to help inspire these kids with hope to the ‘Killing School Trip’ of despair was a virus planted in the game by….
You. Yes, you, the main character. Hajime Hinata. You are the one who planted the virus in the world, the reason everyone is dying is because of you. Of course, outside of the virtual world the person known as Hajime Hinata doesn’t actually exist anymore. In his place is a manufactured personality that Hopes Peak created known as Izuru Kamukura. Originally he was a reserve course student, someone who paid their way into the school. Then he was manufactured into an Ultimate…everything. This school is sick, like seriously sick. They cut open his head and changed who he was. I can’t even with this school. No wonder the Ultimate despair started there.
DID I MENTION THIS GAME IS FULL OF PLOT TWIST? The entire last chapter left me in a pile of feelings. At one point the whole thing gets so depressing I felt like I was drowning in despair myself. The addition of characters from the first game, including my favorite Byakuya Togami was wonderful for nostalgia value. Speaking of Byakuya, the obese one that shows up in this game is a….decent imposter, but I think for the Ultimate Imposter he could have done a better job. I grinded the hell out of Byakuyas events in the first game so I could find all the flaws in the imposter.
The feelings this game left me with were rather intense, I flickered between despair and hope and in the end of everything I know that this isn’t really a happy ending. The ending makes it rather clear despite the fact this was a virtual world, the avatars of the people who died were deleted and there is little to no chance of them being brought back. It’s a rather down note to end on but overall, the ending still has a glimmer of hope with it.
I LOVED this game, I adored everything about it from how the deaths played out to the class trails. Even with the problems, I cried at, at least two of the executions and one of the deaths. Now excuse me. I have some final trophies to get. Stupid hidden Monokumas…. *picks up Vita*