A murderous bundle of two visual novels.
Spike Chunsoft and NIS America are onto a good thing here, packing the two Danganronpa visual novels that were previously available over here on the Vita, into one rather excellent bundle for the PS4, and all of this ahead of this Autumn’s release of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, which also happens to be coming to PS4 alongside the Vita. Danganronpa 1.2 Reload will allow new players on PS4 to enjoy both Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, and also get to know a psychotic teddy bear.
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair were both reviewed for GGUK in their original forms on the Vita back when they were released. It is well worth checking out those reviews to find out more about the games, as in 1.2 Reload there is not much difference aside from the slightly improved visuals for the larger screen.
For those who don’t own a Vita, or who haven’t played either of these Danganronpa games before, let me explain what is going on. In the first title, Trigger Happy Havoc, players are cast into the shoes of Makoto Naegi who has been invited to attend Hope’s Peak Academy, a prestigious school which only invited the most accomplished students to attend. The students of Hope’s Peak Academy are all “Ultimates”, the highest achieving in a given trait.
However, things quickly go awry when Makoto passes out and awakens in the school. Something is wrong though, as Makoto and the other students in attendance cannot leave. Things take a turn for the bizarre when a black and white teddy bear, known as Monokuma, explains that the only way to leave is to murder another student and get away with it. Makes perfect sense to me.
Playing out much like a cross between Persona and Ace Attorney, the player will have to get to know the other students and then, once a murder has been committed, look for clues as to the perpetrator. In some kind of warped trial, there will be the chance to make accusations. If the murderer is uncovered, they will be executed. If they get away with it, they can leave the school and everyone else could be executed instead. High stakes indeed.
The majority of the gameplay involves talking with the other students and building relationships with them to fathom their personalities and collect clues. Outside of this, there is some exploration of the school, along with a few puzzles and mini games.
The second game included in this bundle, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, casts the player as Hajime Hinata. This time around, Hajime and 15 other new students awaken to find themselves trapped on a tropical island known as Jabberwock. Again, the same rules apply – the only way to leave is to murder another student and get away with it. Investigate, build relationships and chat with other students at length, and solve puzzles or mini games to find the murderer.
Both of the games included in this bundle are fairly unique in set up. The characters in both games are incredibly exaggerated, which makes sense considering they are supposed to be “Ultimates”, and players will find themselves understanding and liking certain characters, only for a twist to turn everything on its head. The writing in both games is brilliant.
The only real down side, and this applies to both games, is the slow start. Things take a while to get moving, and given the relative hands off nature of the games, this could be enough to put players off before they get invested.
Danganronpa 1.2 Reload is a great bundle for the PS4, allowing players to enjoy these bizarre games before the third entry arrives this Autumn. For a reasonably good price, players can grab this bundle and enjoy what are possibly two of the best visual novels available.