Is Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair as good as the first anime game in the collection, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc?
Straight off the bat, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair is a fucking awesome sequel. I admit, at first I thought that it gave off a kind of cutesy beach episode feeling, where the goal is all about friendship and maxing out your social links. Yay! But of course, this is Danganronpa, so Monokuma soon shows up and you get into the usual swing of things by reading text, increasing your social link and investigating and solving increasingly bizarre and convoluted murder mysteries. So let’s get stuck into the nitty-gritties.
Those who read my review of the first game (love you) will be familiar with the basic structure and visual novel nature of the game. However, the game does have an increased amount of variety compared to the first. This certainly mitigates any repetitiveness, or feelings like you’re just going through the motions.
There are quite a few additions to the class trial, such as an improved version of Hangman’s Gambit that is more engaging than in the first game; Rebuttal Showdown, which works like a cross between the Nonstop Debates and Fruit Ninja; as well as some parts of the Nonstop Debates having statements which you can agree with instead of contradict. As a whole, these improvements and additions make the class trials much more dynamic and engaging than the first game, even if they do suffer from feeling overly-long at times. Luckily, you can actually save during the class trials now too (hallelujah).
One other thing I should mention is the tamagotchi pet in the e-handbook menu that grows based on how many steps you take. It’s such a superfluous feature that my mentioning of it in this review is also just superfluous.
The writing in the Danganronpa 2 game is, once again, exceptional.
As I said in my first review, the writing in a visual novel style game is very important. I can happily tell you that the writing here is very entertaining. It’s actually much funnier than the original game and the cast of characters are all quite distinct. There is Sonia Nevermind, the European princess exchange student. Kazuichi Soda is the mechanic who orbits Sonia throughout the game. Then we have Mikan the timid Ultimate Nurse; Gundam Tanaka, the hamster breeder who is also an occult magician; Fuyuhiko Kuzuryu the Yakuza; and Awane who is like a more aggressive version of Asahina from the first game, or Ibuki the quirky punk rock girl.
The writing is much more self-referential and contains loads more sexual innuendo this time around. But also the character relationships are more believable. I also found myself, surprisingly, caring about certain characters quite a bit.
The only place the writing really falters is a section towards the end that is a blatant rip off of the Arsenal Gear section, as well as the ending of Metal Gear Solid 2, in a way that is cheesier and far less profound in its presentation.
The Danganronpa 2 anime game has strong visuals, but still falters with resolution.
As for the visuals of the game, there is much more variety in the scenery. Each area unlocked introduces different buildings and themes, compared to the beach episode feel of the first island or the surreal and starkly lit Hope’s Peak Academy from Dangronanpa: Trigger Happy Havoc.
Speaking of the Trigger Happy Havoc, Danganronpa 2 unfortunately shares the same problems as the first game in that many of its assets do not scale well to high resolutions and look incredibly low resolution, which does not require obsessive pixel counting to notice. Even though the overall visual design is varied and interesting, the fidelity of assets makes the whole thing look inconsistent.
Taken as a whole, Danganronpa 2 is just about everything a sequel should be, as it is better in almost every way to its predecessor. It can still feel quite long-winded at times, but I feel that at least for me, this is an inescapable drawback of the genre and mode of storytelling. Still, I enjoyed my time with this and it is a must play for visual novel fans.
My Rating: 8/10