Developed by Spike Chunsoft Published by NIS America Reviewed on PlayStation 4
The original Danganronpa games have been around since 2010 (in Japan) on the PlayStation Portable. Since then the games have been ported over to the Vita, has had two (technically three) anime adaptations, and a spin-off series. The latest game in the series, Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, is already out in Japan and is slated for a September release here in the states. Before that, we also have the original Vita versions of the Danganronpa 1 and 2 combo pack, ported to the PlayStation 4 as Danganronpa 1-2 Reload.
Danganronpa is a story about 16 prodigy students trapped in a school. They are forced to live together without being allowed to leave unless they kill one of their own in secret. After the murder, everyone else must figure out who killed the victim. If they don’t, then the one keeping them captive will kill them all and let the murderer go free. Danganronpa primarily follows the perspective of the main character, Makoto Naegi, while Danganronpa 2 is told through Hajime Hinata. In each game they team up with their respective classmates to solve the murders as they work to find a way to escape from their schools without killing each other.
The game plays much like the Vita versions, only instead of using the touch screen, you use the controller buttons the whole way through. It takes a little getting used to, but if you’ve played the original Danganronpa games before, you might pick it up rather quickly.
The game is told through visual novel story format so there is an intense amount of reading. A good portion of the game does have voice acting but you’re still going to be reading lots of text on the screen. Still most of the time the game looks really good; depending on the screen that you’re playing on the visual assets look upscaled and stretched compared to the original. Some pieces of art look great while others look blown up from the handheld versions.
The difficulty that you play it on will greatly determine the experience you have. There’s no benefit or bonus that you get from playing on the harder difficulties. So you can actually just play on easy or normal if you want a decent challenge but only want to progress through the game. I originally played Danganronpa 2 on hard and didn’t receive any great benefit from that other than a few moments where I felt I cleverly figured out the solution.
Another flaw is that the game actually has little replay value. You do get points at the end of every arc to unlock things like artwork and videos for the main story, which works as incentive to replay the game. Also, during the free mode before the next case begins, you can get to know the other characters in the game. Given that it’s a murder mystery, unless you already know who the the victims will be, it’s very hard to get through everybody’s personal backstory. You can still experience that fully by unlocking an extra mode after you finish the game.
Still, I highly recommend getting this game if you never had a chance to play Danganronpa 1 and 2 before…especially since you can get both games in one nice package. In fact that’s how it was originally released on the Vita back in Japan before they split the games into separate releases in America. If you’ve already played the games before then it’d be good to have these to your collection. If it’s been awhile since you played them then you’ll still have fun getting the chance to go through them again in one convenient package.