Now I’m often against this new fad of re-releases and remasters, however when that re-release is a compilation that brings a franchise to a new platform, to a wider audience for people to experience for the first time, then it isn’t so bad. Having never played Danganronpa in the past but always wanting to I was thrilled to hear that this would be coming to the PS4, especially seeing as the third instalment is due later this year along with Ultra Despair Girls.
Despair vs. hope is really an age old battle, light and dark, good and evil, which one will overcome? Trigger Happy Havoc is the first game in the Danganronpa series and pits students against each other in a battle royal sort of speak, the setting being Hope’s Peak Academy a high school where only the best of the best attend. The students begin their first day at the school all full of optimism and hope until they each faint and wake up later on, in a very different surrounding, all window’s are blocked off by metal plates, the main entrance replaced with a huge vault like door and camera’s placed everywhere. These students group up in the main hallway, share pleasantries and worries, then enters Monokuma, to bring despair to everyone.
Goodbye Despair is the second title in the compilation and begins with new characters looking to attend Hope’s Peak Academy, they arrive at their classroom and meet their teacher Usami, sound’s alright, doesn’t it? Well it usually would, but Usami is a magical stuffed toy rabbit, the animal kind not the other thing. If that wasn’t it the classroom’s walls falls apart and the students find themselves on an island where things were just about to get interesting as this island just like the setting of the first game is riddled with camera’s and monitor’s.
The best way to describe this series would be that they are point and click visual novel adventure games. Each chapter is split into three sections, Daily Life, Deadly Life and Class Trials. Throughout daily life, you can usually explore and go about your business with some time to socialise with other character’s and build on your relationships with them. Deadly life will be the investigation phase, once a murder has happened, this is when you take time to find out what you can about how the killing happened and most importantly who the murderer is. Finally, the class trials are where everyone comes together to discuss their finding’s and vote on who they believe the murderer to be.
There’s a couple of different aspects to the gameplay, in both daily and deadly life sections of each chapter, you can move around freely, as you socialise and investigate this is where the point and click style is more prominent. The controls are sound, movement and aiming on the sticks, sprint on one button, map on another and the menu on a third button, it’s all easy to navigate and use. During the class trial section, you then enter more visual novel, conversational debate and investigation aspect of the game, chatting back and forth with your fellow survivor’s trying to solve the case at hand.
During these trials you will come across even more gameplay features, the hangman’s gambit and the moment of truth being just two of these. The former being a hangman style mini-game where you get some letters of a word pre-filled and you need to aim and shoot at the letter’s flying around to fill the rest of the word or words. The latter being a rhythm game, where you are having a one to one argument and you need to combat each remark the opposition is making and wear them down. What I love about these features is the fact there’s variety and it’s a great example of how to break-up the sometimes monotonous, read and click visual novel’s.
The art-style used really aids in creating a good-looking game, regardless of its age. That being said, you can certainly see it’s looking rough around the edges with its flat textures and jagged lines. Both games benefit from plenty of colour and shading, whilst often not 3D, characters and locations still feel full and fleshed out complete with personality. Each character has their own look whilst each area gives off different vibes. The beach from the second game evokes happiness, wonderful view of the sea and the lush green of the palm trees, then in the complete opposite direction the second floor of the dormitory area of the first game evokes sadness, with rubble everywhere and lockers bashed in it’s not nice to see.
Immersion is something I often go on about as I truly feel it is the most important feature of a game, being able to lose yourself in the game’s world. In order to create an immersive experience, sound is a key factor and Danganronpa’s soundtrack is weird, unusual even, and sometimes creepy and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The music mirrors the story and image of the game. In terms of the dialogue, it’s mostly reading material, there are some scenes and lines that will feature voice-over’s which is hugely welcomes, each character having their own voice helps create a connection between them and the player. I would often smirk hearing Mondo from the first game yell out ‘You son of a bitch’, this he did quite frequently.
Story – 9/10
Visuals – 7/10
Sound – 8/10
Gameplay – 8/10
Game Design / Innovation – 8.5/10
Charm, one word that I feel completely fits for this game, its story whilst not quite unique being a battle royal tale, has been executed in a way that makes it unique. Being able to feel a connection to each character is refreshing and not often seen in games, but Danganronpa successfully drew me in to each one of them. Visually it has certainly aged slightly, but not to the point it looks bad at all, it looks good and sounds great. Finally, it’s just absolutely fun, the mini-game’s and gameplay features are a great touch. The bonus additions of school mode and island mode make this compilation a worthwhile investment, which is hard to do considering both games to have a playtime of around 25-30 hours each.
OVERALL – 8.1/10 – GREAT
Reviewed by Rhys Baldwin (Jester).
(Disclaimer: CONQUEST received a review copy of Danganronpa 1.2 Reload on PS4 however this does not in anyway affect the scoring of a game or our thoughts on the game itself. We believe in total honesty and being transparent with you.)