Here we go again…
Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, the visual role-playing title from Spike Chunsoft, takes a bunch of new students on an academic journey in the corridors of elite high school, Hope’s Peak Academy, to find the ultimate student. Hope’s Peak Academy teaches sixteen highly qualified students with a spectrum of special skills from Ultimate Cook to Ultimate Gymnast and takes them to an interesting and murderous level.
You take the role of Hajime Hinata, who has enrolled in the academy to become a top student. Unfortunately, upon arriving in his new-found environment, he loses consciousness and once awoken, he can’t seem to place who all the other students are who gather around him, while he looks up and finds himself on a beach. After a brief introduction from the various students, it becomes apparent that Hajime has been transported with 15 other students on a school trip to the strange tropical island of Jabberwock.
In Jabberwock, he becomes acquainted with a strange pink remote-controlled teddy bear called Monokuma, who announces to everyone present that the students may have to stay on the remote island forever. The only way a student gets to leave and graduate is by murdering one of the other students. Once an incident occurs, a class trial commences and during this trial you’ll be able to present your arguments about who you think the murderer is. The outcome will be decided by popular vote, if you arrive at the correct answer, and only then will the others be punished and the rest of the students can continue their school trip.
If you’ve played Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc before, you’ll have a fair idea how the game mechanics play out, because it’s pretty much the same. Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair mixes court room drama with a visual interactive novel, where you’ll become acquainted with other students through exploring and exchanging conversations. As a new student, you’re given a number of rules to abide by, where extreme violence is prohibited on the island, and you have to remain considerate of the other students, even though a murder will take place.
Exploring the island, you soon discover it is broken up into various environmental areas and you’ll have to explore each area and investigate to find clues about a murder. Tapping on the PS Vita touch screen interface allows you to exchange conversations and explore areas of interest.
Once enough clues are discovered, a class trial takes place and the investigation becomes a debate session. You’ll hear a number of witness statements and piece together clues to see who is telling the truth, or who is trying to misinform you. Once you’ve revealed who the killer is and gathered your evidence, you’ll need to point out inconsistencies, confront your suspect, deal their fatal punishment and allow the rest of the students to move onto the next area of the storyline.
You’ll explore the warm and sunny climates of the islands, from barren beaches to the local amusement park, and find your fellow students have some quirky personalities. Most areas are filled with TV screens and cameras, which constantly makes you aware your movements are being monitored by two rather crazy bears. Whilst you gather information from each student, your personal inventory is filled with advice and information to help you on your investigation.
Your handy electronic student e-handbook gives you a clear and concise map of where you can travel to and a view of where some of the students are located. You’ve also got access to truth bullets, which is where you can review evidence and witness accounts you’ve recorded and enables you to gather information of any inconsistencies that may have occurred.
You’ll also be rewarded with gifts and you are able to purchase presents with your monocoins, which when purchased, can then be given to a certain student to improve a relationship with them. Purchasing presents also enables your tamogotchi-style e-pet, which resides inside your inventory, to become happier, if you’re not scooping poop.
If you’ve played Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc before, then you’ll be aware of the similarities. I would advise people who are thinking of playing this title to play the first Danganronpa to start with, otherwise you may feel completely lost. Having played the first one, I found Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair very easy to get into and found myself in comfortable surroundings. There have been a lot of improvements to both the gameplay and the visuals, making the experience pleasurable. It also helps that the conversations are not long winded or drag for too long.
Although the game is very similar to it’s predecessor, I do feel the characters personalities are quite sexually exaggerated, along with some interesting and quirky humor thrown in. Having said that though, the Danganronpa series has always been a slightly and weird experience in terms of gameplay. Conversations are quickly generated and exchanged, only for you to come away thinking twice about what a character has to say and you find yourself shaking your head in utter amusement and bewilderment.
I highly recommend Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair on PS Vita. It is an interesting title that doesn’t go into deep gameplay mechanics, but often keeps you smiling and amused while you perform your investigation on the remote Jabberwock island.