Magic relieved or a case of sequelitis?
Danganronpa 2 is a follow-up to the PSP game by Spike Chunsoft also titled Danganronpa only this time with an almost entirely new cast of characters. The first game ended in somewhat of a cliffhanger with still many unanswered questions. Does this new iteration solve all those loose ends?
The original story was about students who were selected based on their special talents. As they entered ‘Hope’s Peak Academy” they found themselves to fall unconscious and awaken trapped inside the school. Students were then introduced to a bear known as Monokuma who seems to be the mastermind behind all of this. Monokuma informs everyone that they must fight against themselves since the only way to leave is to kill someone else and get away with it.
This time around a new group of students find themselves knocked unconscious in the same school and this time around awaken on an island. This tropical island known as Jabberwock island is where students are informed of a very similar premise as the students were placed in the first game.
The main draw point of the first title was the interesting cast of characters which were quite colourful in terms of their unique personalities as well as eventually learning more about their past history. This time around the characters don’t seem to be as fascinating or possibly due to a case of a formilaic game structure. You have the ability to learn more about each character through the dating/hanging out component of this game but there is only so much ‘free-time’ that occurs here.
Monomi – a female teddy bear – is a new somewhat sidekick/rival that is alongside Monokuma now. A nice addition as these two provide a bit of comic relief from time to time.
There is a giant countdown on the island and the students only have a certain about of time for finding a way off the island.
Loose ends from the first title are eventually covered and with a few interesting twists, but in order to get through all this requires going through a similar set of case incidents that occur on the Jabberwock Island.
Game structure is similar to the first game only with a few added components in order to better suit the layout of the island as opposed to the school. First-person perspective is still available when exploring areas, but now there are side-scrolling aspects as well in order to reach other parts of the island. There is also a level-up system as well which occurs as you walk or run around the island at leisure; examining objects allocates experience as well.
A digital pet is also now part of your inventory which is completely optional as this requires the responsibility of cleaning up and providing it with food and presents from time to time. Through spending time with characters you can further build relations and even acquire new skills which can be used in trials.
Trials make a return once more when a murder has occurred on the island only this time with more gimmicks in place. On top of the ones that were already in the first game such as the rhythmic panic attack and rebuttal sequences we have a skateboarding mini-game as well. The skateboarding mini-game is about choosing the right path as you skateboard down a geometric tunnel. Choose the wrong path and you fall and lose a bit of health and the right path will lead to the next question.
These mini-games can wear a bit thin after a while and detract from the overall story experience, but for some this may seem like an admirable effort to do more with the trial sequences.
Overall the formula of the game seems to entail ‘if it is not broken, don’t fix it’ for better or worse. If the cast were a bit more developed this may be not to be so much of an issue but the caliber of the cases – for the most part – leave something to be desired.
The graphical styling is very similar to the first entry with very colourful characters and backdrops with flip-book pop ups for environments when entering rooms or new areas. Part of the charm of Danganronpa is in this type of style and the anime character aesthetics so this return of graphical depiction is certainly a plus. One change that is quite intrusive is the new HUD which does take a bit of screen real-estate which takes away focus from the lovely artwork.
The sound department is quite good once again with a lot of sound-effects rehashed and nice voice-acting. Music within the game certainly helps resonate the vibe of being on a tropical island.
While it is nice to see another Danganronpa game after the excellent first entry having an entirely new cast can have its downfalls since this is the central component which made the series great. The lack of interesting characters really hampers the experience and the formula of this game is still pretty much the same.
Further explanation of the events post Danganronpa 1 are certainly explained here and will appease die-hard fans of the first title but if you are not enjoying the game as much then patience will be key to uncovering those mysterious which are explained later on.
Platform(s): PS Vita, PS4(Coming soon), PC (Possibly coming soon)