Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls PS4 Review

 

 
Overview
 

Genre: Action Adventure
 
Rating: M
 
Release Date: 23 June, 2017
 
Overall
 
 
 
 
 
3.5/5


User Rating
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Positives


- Well written, insane narrative.
- References to other games in the franchise

Negatives


- Finicky camera
- Inconsistent art style
- Gunplay can become repetitive


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Posted July 15, 2017 by

 
Full Article
 
 

Better known for its excellent PS Vita titles, the Danganronpa franchise has slowly been making strides to hit a mainstream audience. As well as two anime series and a few manga and novel spin-offs, the franchise has received a huge boost in awareness thanks to the release of Danganronpa 1-2 Reload (a port of the first two games) on PS4 and PC earlier this year. The larger install base on those systems has exposed the brand to more players, and now to tide fans over until the Western release of the third main game, comes a port of the spin-off shooter Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls.

Set between the events of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, the game follows protagonists Komaru Naegi and Toko Fuka (along with the latter’s alternate personality, Genocide Jack). The duo are on a mission to escape Towa City which has become overrun by thousands of Monokumo robots who are somehow in league with a mysterious organisation known as the Warriors of Hope. This group consists of homicidal pre-teens hellbent on killing all adults, and who have also influenced the children of the city to fight for their cause. Komaru and Toko must ultimately face off against each member in some truly weird yet satisfying battles. The narrative features a lot of insanity, twists and turns, is well written, and fits in well with the overall Danganronpa series.

Naturally, Ultra Despair Girls will make frequent references to the first two games, particularly since Toko appeared in Trigger Happy Havoc and because Komaru is the sister of that game’s protagonist. Because of this, it is recommended you play the first two games so that you can fully appreciate the references and little nods here and there. As someone who has only played half of Trigger Happy Havoc and watched the first anime series however, I can say that the narrative will still hold your interest even if you have limited experience with the franchise. Just keep in mind some background plot points may not make a lot of sense at first.

While previous games have been visual novels, Ultra Despair Girls sets out to be a more action-oriented title. The game is played from a third person viewpoint, with players navigating their environments and literally just moving between objectives. Along the way you encounter Monokuma robots that must be defeated and simple challenges. You have access to a Megaphone Hacking Gun which has a number of different themed Truth Bullets, a callback to the first two games. The Break bullet for example is used to destroy Monokuma, while Dance will make the giant teddy bear shake his groove thing. Bullets such as Move and Detect are used to interact with the environment, with the former activating switches and the latter finding hidden items of interest.

The gunplay doesn’t feel as tight as it could be, namely due to the camera switching to an “over the shoulder” view and just being finicky to control. At times you will raise your gun to aim at a Monokuma, only to be facing a completely different direction and struggling to find your target. This isn’t helped by Monokumas often popping up from hidden corners or breaking through windows – they’re light jumps scares that quickly lose their impact and become frustrating due to the camera system. Early on you can unlock an auto-aim function which will target the nearest Monokuma, but this can also become irritating when fighting larger groups as you cannot change targets on the fly – this will hurt some of the smaller strategies associated with enemy types later in the game.

There are different Monokuma robots that require various tactics to defeat. Standard Monokumas are the most basic form, easily defeated using Break. Siren Monokuma have giant sirens on their head, and will call for backup if they spot you. By using Dance, they will also attract other nearby Monokumas and distract them while you either flee or eliminate all targets. Bomber Monokuma will throw bombs at players, but if you attack their backpack they will explode and take out any enemies that are in the immediate vicinity. There’s certainly enough variety here to keep things from getting too stale, though towards the end of the narrative it can be a little repetitive once you’ve encountered all enemy types and unlocked all Truth Bullets.

In addition to the Hacking Gun, providing players have enough in-game battery charge they can switch to the invincible Genocide Jack. Genocide Jack fights with scissors, switching combat from gunplay to a melee-based affair where you can unleash various combo moves and lay waste to the Monokumas without having to worry about health or any other strategy. Apart from a quick tutorial the mechanic is optional to use, which make sense as it completely rids Ultra Despair Girls of any difficulty.

Combat aside, there are also minor challenges which involve plotting a course through a maze to avoid contact with Monokumas, killing all enemies in one move, and finding passcodes to enter doors. There’s nothing here that really stands out from other titles, but it’s a welcome break from the gunplay.

Despite the new focus on action it’s worth pointing out that the narrative has not been compromised. There’s still plenty of cutscenes ranging from beautiful anime sequences, to FMVs and conversations played out with 2D “cutouts” of characters. Between these different scenes comes an inconsistent art style, particularly with in-game graphics that are fairly average and uninspiring. This is a direct port of a PS Vita game however, and given its cheaper price point this is forgivable. There also seems to be a lot more spoken dialogue than other games in the franchise but there are times when you will still need to read text, usually during secondary conversations that don’t add too much to the overall narrative.

If you have played Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls on PS Vita then there isn’t anything new here to warrant a return. But if you haven’t played it before then this will fill the void until the third main game is released. The gunplay does get repetitive towards the end of the narrative, the camera system can be frustrating and the art style is inconsistent. But the new focus on action doesn’t detract from the story, making the title a welcome addition for any fan of the series – just remember you may want to play Trigger Happy Havoc and Goodbye Despair first to fully appreciate the references.


Joseph Rositano

 
While Joseph's main hobby has always centered around video games, he's also taken an interest in movies, musicals and traveling around the world. No one quite knows what Joseph's true motivations are, but rest assure he is always planning his next grand adventure!


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