DANGANRONPA 1.2 RELOAD
GENRE: Visual Novel, Adventure
PLATFORMS: Playstation 4, Playstation Vita
RELEASE DATE: March 14, 2017
“Wherever there is hope, there is most certainly despair.”
Rating: 8 Monocoins out of 10
If there is one thing Danganronpa likes to remind us, it’s that it sometimes sucks to be the anime protagonist. Being ‘normal’ surely has no merit to it, but somehow that warrants all the responsibility and a world of pain. Danganronpa 1.2 Reload takes the entire series from the Playstation Vita forward to the Playstation 4. Publisher NIS America opens the title for a much larger demographic this time around, especially with the amount of notoriety it gathered during its handheld lifespan. It is hard to dispute that the game certainly lives up to its reputation, as Dangaronpa wastes no times in drawing you in from the very beginning.
The story focuses on a “normal boy” being accepted into a highly prestigious school. In spite of his complete lack of talent, he is set to join a laundry list of talented prodigies whom are referred to as ‘Ultimates’ due to their proficiency in a particular area. However, upon attending his first day, his world is turned upside down, as he and his fellow classmates are trapped by a sinister teddy bear known only as ‘Monokuma’. They are then given an ultimatum that shakes their morality, either spend the rest of their lives with each other or commit murder to be set free.
This is where the madness of Danganronpa ensues, as the rest of the plot is filled with tension focusing on who will kill and who will die next.
Much like many Visual Novels before it, Dangaronpa primarily relies upon text and static backgrounds to tell its story. This however is one of its greatest strengths, as the simplicity manages to emphasise the absurd and surreal nature of the game’s themes. One notable example is the contrast found in the second game, where the island’s paradise setting directly clashes with the stressful nature of death and murder.
But this isn’t to say that the game is limited to just text and backgrounds, as Danganronpa has a heavy set of game mechanics that further adds to the madness and despair. These are divided between navigation and interaction, both of which ultimately lead to the most important segment of the game – ‘Class Trial’.
Although the game tries to provide some freedom with these components, they do end up feeling slightly off and awkward during the beginning. Navigation by first person seems unpredictable due to the camera speed and walking pace, while interaction with other characters and objects feels scripted half the time.
Still, their contribution to the class trials is where these mechanics truly shine, as the game shifts from a seemingly linear narrative into a more point and click adventure. As the name suggests ‘Class Trials’ occur following the murder of another student. It is here that the game instructs the player character to find clues and witnesses, all of which would then be used as evidence during the actual trial.
Upon completing the first half of the trial and narrowing down suspects, the game then treats the player to two more additional game modes that prove to be unique and exhilarating. The first takes on the form of a rhythm game, to which the player and suspect conduct a statement battle that is timed with every beat. The second takes on the form of a comic book puzzle, where they must then re-enact the events of the murder by correctly placing scenes to its panels.
The reward of successfully determining the culprit isn’t really much of a reward itself, as it all eventually leads to Monkuma’s desire to see despair amongst you and your classmates. In time you realize there isn’t really much rewards you can gather from completing each trial, but instead the entire point is to fight to survive.
Danganronpa is a Visual Novel that packs a wallop when it comes to story development and tension filled gameplay. Highly recommended especially to those new to the genre, it could easily be considered a great starting point to enjoying more vn’s. However the transition to the Playstation 4 seems to be lacklustre to say the least, as perhaps the only significant aspect of the game apart from the established content is the idea that you get both titles for the price of one.