Along its relatively short life, the PS Vita has spanned some titles which are still revered as classics, such as the excellent Gravity Rush and Persona 4 Golden. While these have been one off games, even though sequels are in production for both even though a handheld release was not confirmed yet, few are the established series making impact on the Vita. Apart from my beloved Nep-Nep and Company along the Hyperdimension series, the only series which stands out, or the one which comes to mind at least, is the Danganronpa series.
Even though I have not been a fan of the series for long, having played only the latest title, I can already understand why the game is so beloved and critically acclaimed. Its storytelling is of the highest quality, and gameplay and graphics are top notch as well. But let us just go over the basics real quickly. In Ultra Despair Girls, players take the role of Komaru Naegi, a teenage schoolgirl who in the beginning of the game we find as a prisoner, even though she herself does not know who the one responsible for her lockdown is. One day, during the course of her now everyday life which she’s become accustomed to, she hears a knock at the door, and suddenly someone with huge claws starts to break into the room or house or whatever her structure is. It is a black and white bear, the famous Monokumas who characterize the Danganronpa series so well.
At that moment you have to flee the room, only to be surrounded by dozens of other bears, intent on killing you. A saving grace comes in the form of a gang who saves you and here you get the extremely useful hacking gun, which pretty much resembles a bullhorn. This gun is very good at keeping the Monokumas at bay, with a variety of effects depending on the bullets shot (obviously if they hit). There are dance bullets, knockback bullets and also damaging bullets in the form of break bullets. These different kinds of bullets may alter somewhat the choices which players end up making while playing, even though the best option is always to get rid of the nasty bearbots by shooting them straight into their red eye, neutralizing them completely with one shot while being awarded bonus damage for your next.
In Danganronpa Another Episode, which is a spin-off from the main series, the main plotline is extremely dark and twisted, and will compel players to never let the Vita escape their hands before they are finished with the tale. A gang of children, who call themselves the Warriors of Hope, are murdering all the adults on the world. When they confront Komaru and she asks why, they simply reply that since adults have so many rules which kids do not like, the children have decided that having an adult-free world will be the solution to all their “stress” and their “problems.” This is obviously messed up, and while initially this gang of kids looks quite adorable, especially Monaca, they are the ones wreaking all the havoc in the city. They are also the ones behind the Monokumas and their relentless destruction of the city, which shows how much power this group of children have. It is then up to you to save the world and revert it back to sanity and peace.
Gameplay wise, the game feels like an over the shoulder third person shooter without unnecessary complications. Moving Komaru around is done with the analog sticks and you can shoot with the shoulder buttons. The directional buttons are used to select which truth bullet to use, which comes in handy when wanting to select a truth bullet directly from your screen instead of opening the selection wheel and selecting from there.
Obviously, even though the gameplay is very good on its own, it is the story which will steal the attention of players, and ignite their curiosity for whatever happens next. The tale is a gripping and intriguing one, so much so that you almost feel bad for skipping cutscenes which you already have seen, just to enjoy that dialogue once more. The story is developed incredibly well also thanks to the wonderful graphics of the game, which although nothing extra ordinary, do their part in aiding the game’s effectiveness. Strong, vivid colours in the opening sections of the game show how light hearted the atmosphere still is in the first few hours of the game, while darker colours take over slowly as the story progresses, showing how the game changes little by little to a more sinister tale. The voice over actors are also incredibly talented, with the likes of Komaru being given a personality almost straight from the game due to how well the voiceovers were acted out. It is not appreciated enough, but people lending their voice to story heavy games such as this deserve as much credit as the ones developing the game, as they ultimately give the personality and the tone of the story to the characters.
Staying true to the Danganronpa franchise, Ultra Despair Girls provides an incredibly dark story, worthy of the series itself. Playing this game and observing the amazing storytelling makes me want to play the first two titles as well, something which I will definitely take into consideration after slashing my ever increasing backlog of games I have yet to play and beat. While not a true sequel to the first two titles, Ultra Despair Girls surely satisfies the appetite for a franchise game, and with Danganronpa 3 announced and on the way sometime soon, this title makes for a very welcome entry while waiting for the next.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.