Imagine being in a school where you are forced to kill your classmates to leave.
The Danganronpa series is one that has been around for quite a few years by now across various forms of media. Originally created as a title for the PSP exclusively in Japan back in 2010, the series spawned manga and anime series due to its popularity. The series was ported to the PS Vita in 2012 for Western audiences receiving rather popular feedback. Now the first two games of the series return, and reloaded, right before the release of the next installment in the series later this year.
Focusing on a murder mystery around Ultimate students that are the best at what they do, Danganronpa feels like a darker version of the board game Clue with aspects of graphic novels included. While this is the case for both of the games included in Danganronpa 1.2 Reloaded, the local for each game differs in providing their own dark and dreary setting.
The first Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc follows Makoto Naegi, and 14 other Ultimates (students who are the best at what they do), as they are invited to attend Hope’s Peak Academy. The story claims that those who attend the academy are destined for greatness; but the group soon finds out this isn’t the case. Once the deranged Monokuma appears, the students learn about the sick game that they have entered where they must kill to leave. This may sound disturbing already, but the only way the murdered gets to leave is if he gets away with the crime.
This concept is revisited in Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, following a new group of Ultimates as they are stuck on an island during a “school trip”. This time, a new cast of Ultimates are here with a new protagonist Hajime Hinata. The students are faced with the same premise of kill to escape, or work together to find a way out of the deadly island.
The gameplay for the series is rather ease to grasp as it revolves around social time and murder investigations. During social times, you can explore around each games local looking for escape as well as communicate to create stronger bonds with the other Ultimate students. During the murder investigations, you search around the map to find clues regarding the murder while interrogating other students on what they’ve witnessed. After completing the investigations comes the most interesting part of the games.
The Class Trials, which are without a doubt the most fun part of the Danganronpa games, pits all living students in a small courtroom where they must decide on who committed the murder. During the trials, you must use all the evidence that you’ve found during your investigations to help prove the innocence of characters while figuring out who the murderer really is. Throughout the trial, you must find faults in the other student’s testimonies with actual fact bullets that shoot holes in their stories. This mechanic becomes even more tense as you get even more truth bullets that you must properly match up with the testimonies. As you progress through the case you’ll face elements such as Hangman’s Gambit, and closing arguments. As you’d expect Hangman’s Gambit is a game of Hangman where you shoot various letters that form clues, while the closing arguments have you fill in a comic strip on how the murder took place. Some of these elements are enhanced in the second game as elements such as agreement bullets allowing you to strengthen arguments.
While the class trials are extremely tense, and fun to take part in, the exploration around the locals can be bland and showcase the aging of the games. As with the original Trigger Happy Havoc, the school area during the exploration showcases how the game hasn’t aged particularly well since the original release on the PSP. While you’ll find a lot of enjoyment as you try to piece together the truth to the murder, various times you’ll find yourself going through large amounts of dialogue that goes on for seemingly forever.
While Danganronpa 1.2 claims to be reloaded, the game lacks any noticeable visual upgrades. Areas still lock rather similar to their portable counterparts, being a little hard on the eyes when it comes to larger screens. While we weren’t expecting HD graphics that would win awards, some upscaling would have gone a long way since it was originally created as a game for the PSP. The audio does make up for this providing a upbeat soundtrack that relieves tension during social times, but also creates an amazingly eerie atmosphere during investigation phases.
Danganronpa 1.2 Reloaded provides an incredible murder mystery/ graphic novel experience that will easily occupy hours of your time. While providing a dark story that provides numerous twists, a cast of interesting characters that all lend their own flair to the cast, and intense class trials provide an enjoyable experience, extended amounts of text that go on forever, dated graphics, and slow gameplay can be a massive turnoff. If you’ve never tried the Danganronpa series before, 1.2 Reloaded provides an excellent ability for players to get caught up on the series before the release of the third game this year. For those who’ve played the games before, you’re not missing too much, but it’s still great to revisit.
- Class Trials Provide Intense Gameplay
- Incredibly Diverse Cast of Characters Make Each One Unique, and Humorous
- Dark Twisted Story that Will Keep You Invested for Hours
- Two Great Games for the Price of One
- Hasn’t Aged Well
- Exploration Can Be Quite Bland During Social Times
*Complementary copy of the game was provided by the developer for review purposes.