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Karifean's Blog of Visual Novels

Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair Review

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Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair is a visual novel developed by Spike Chunsoft. It's the sequel to the original Danganronpa and has recently made its way onto the Steam Store.


Overview

The story of Danganronpa 2 is very reminiscent of the first. It opens up with our protagonist, Hajime Hinata, entering the prestigious Hope's Peak Academy, a school only for students that are the 'ultimate' of their respective field. Examples include the "Ultimate Cook", the "Ultimate Photographer", the "Ultimate Gamer" or even the "Ultimate Lucky Student" (one single student randomly selected from a lottery). But as Hajime approaches the school his memory suddenly blacks out and the next thing he remembers is opening the door to his classroom, where he finds his classmates. And as if that wasn't confusing of an occurrence enough, the 'teacher' makes her appearance...




The teacher, also known as a pink talking rabbit called "Usami", informs the students that they're all going to go on a school trip together; and as the walls of the classroom open up the students find themselves not in the school, but rather on a tropical island.


Usami tells them the purpose of being here is so that they can all get along and get to know and trust each other. As they do, they will gather "Hope Fragments" and once they have all six corresponding to every student, the school trip will end. The students decide to go along with it for now, but soon enough things go downhill as the school trip is hijacked with the reappearance of our old pal Monokuma.


Monokuma usurps Usami's position, even humiliating her by making her appearance and name resemble his own, and declares the start of the killing school trip as he finds the heart-throbbing school trip program to be unbearably boring. So new rules are appended; if a student wants to leave the island, they have to kill someone, after which a class trial occurs. If the other students figure out the identity of the culprit, they get executed. But if they don't, the culprit goes free and everyone else is executed in their stead.


Story

Obviously the concept is at first almost identical to the first game's, the only obvious differences at first glance being the change in location and the addition of Usami (hereafter referred to as 'Monomi'). But more than being a carbon copy, Danganronpa 2 feels like it's taking the Danganronpa formula to the next logical step, improving on it and utilizing it for plot points in ways the first game did not.

The cases and overall mysteries in this game are far superior to those of the first. They're actually quite fun to reason out and attempt to solve before the trial even starts. And yet, regardless of whether you do or do not get a decent theory going, the trial unfolds at a good pace. The gameplay is still not that amazing, but the audiovisual presentation more than makes up for any minor downfalls.


That being said, Danganronpa 2 does have some low points. Every chapter, Monokuma gives the students some kind of 'motive' to start killing one another, and unfortunately this is one of the weakest parts of the game. Also some of the individual puzzles are a sudden massive difficulty spike as the answers are simply not as intuitive as the game seems to think they are.


As for the overall plot, it feels a lot more ambitious than Danganronpa's with more thought put into it, which I really appreciated. It's set up in a way so that players of the first game will have an enhanced experience - and I definitely recommend playing the first game before this one - but at the same time you could probably play the second game on its own and enjoy it just fine. In regards to major twists, they were simultaneously really cool and meh. Some of the ideas were really solid and executed well, but then others just did nothing for me. I especially feel like the science fiction aspects weren't set up all that well. It's a shame because with how much of it I really enjoyed, Danganronpa 2 could easily be among my absolute favorites by now if it consistently remained as great.


Characters

Regardless of how similar the setting is to the first game, it's a whole different story if you have different characters, and this is where Danganronpa 2 well and truly separates itself from its predecessor. From the very beginning the characters and dynamics are noticeably different from Danganronpa's, I'd even go so far as to say they're considerably better.


If you've played the first game you'll find a familiar face or two, but in general the characters in Danganronpa 2 are a completely new batch of 'Ultimates' from Hope's Peak Academy. Like before you can make use of Free Time events to spend time with characters of your choosing, although your opportunities to do so will come to a swift end if they should meet their untimely demise, so you better choose wisely. The free time events contain a massive bulk of characterization for pretty much everyone, so I definitely recommend doing these events for all characters you're interested in; if not during the main storyline then at least during Island Mode, an extra mode where you can do Free Time events whenever and with whoever you want.


In my opinion, the character dynamics didn't develop quite as well as in the first game, but Danganronpa 2 still has the higher high points regarding characterization in comparison. Personal favorite characters of mine include Nagito Komaeda, the Ultimate Lucky Student, as well as Chiaki Nanami, the Ultimate Gamer.


Soundtrack

Regarding the soundtrack I have literally no complaints. There's a plethora of new tracks that do a great job highlighting the differences from the first game and firmly establish the second game as having its own identity, and yet the soundtrack does not forget its roots and brings back some of the classic tunes of the first game when you want to hear them the most. It strikes pretty much the perfect balance.


Summary

Overall Danganronpa 2 was every bit as enjoyable as the first game. Its cases and trials are much better and it has a couple very good tricks up its sleeve, even if occasional missteps do bring down my opinion of the overall plot. The game has some really great characters that complement the setting and story well.

I would definitely recommend this to any fans of Danganronpa the first, and while I do think you could appreciate Danganronpa 2 as a standalone game I certainly encourage playing the first game if you haven't already and plan on giving this game a try.

Overall I give Danganronpa 2 a solid

8 / 10

I'm very much looking forward to seeing the conclusion to the saga in the Danganronpa 3 anime coming up soon!

Comments

  1. fat_moogle's Avatar
    I completed this game last night. At first I thought that the game was a bit too similar to its predecessor, but I stuck with it, and I'm glad I did. It seemed a bit slow at times, but when you get to Chapters 5 & 6 it's worth it. It all comes together nicely.