A few months ago I reviewed Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls on Rice Digital. I really loved the first Danganronpa. I couldn’t put it down. For every time it was somewhat “problematic” (the way it handles multiple personality disorder is a bit bad) it was also quite subversive. This is a spin-off set between the first and second game that moves away from its normal Visual Novel gameplay and instead adds in survival horror. Oh, but it also adds in hack and slash. And also lots of puzzle rooms. And arena boss battles. And bits where you have to protect NPCs from taking damage from hordes of Monokuma. And facing off against waves.
Which isn’t to say there’s nothing to like, though I definitely have soured on it the further away I get and thinking back on it (and my initial review wasn’t super glowing). Graphically it’s kind of simple, but it’s one of the best looking games on the Vita in terms of pure style. There are also some pretty big sections of the game where you’re just reading text and not actually playing some of the fairly subpar gameplay. This is actually pretty good, as you would expect from Danganronpa.
Some of the same hands that made Danganronpa such a great visual novel definitely had a hand in this. Even when it’s just back and forth between the characters. Komaru and Toko always have a discussion about the books you can find throughout the levels, and it makes finding collectibles tonnes of fun when you’ll be rewarded with some good writing. Komaru and Toko are a pretty good pairing, and compliment each other pretty well.
When it comes down to it this is a very confused game that has no idea what it is or what it wants to be. It’s at its best early in the game, where it’s mainly just fairly mediocre survival horror, but it gets out of hand pretty fast. There’s enough visual novel bits to satisfy a fan, and I did like those bits, but as a game it’s actually a bit rubbish, which is a shame. I can’t imagine what they were thinking. Also for some reason the serial killer character now has literal super powers, and is able to leap from ground level onto a speeding monorail overhead in a single bound. Talk about jumping the shark. Or rather, the monorail.
There are some really nice elements to this, but I wish they had kept it more simple. Being too ambitious is a problem if you can’t really deliver on it, and the worst thing is that there’s enough here to warrant Danganronpa fans playing it, but there will be some significant sections of the game where they simply won’t be having fun at it.