DanganRonpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls is the third game in the DanganRonpa series. However, unlike the first two games, Another Episode takes a departure from the usual visual novel gameplay and instead is a more action-oriented third person shooter starring Komaru Naegi. So how does it fair against DanganRonpa 1 and 2? Let’s find out but first two disclaimers.
WARNING! Minor SPOILERS AHEAD! Please play the first two games if you want to absolutely avoid potential SPOILERS!
- There were no Japanese dubbing options during my review. However, a Japanese dub will be released as DLC on Day 1.
- Unfortunately, I could not play the game to completion as I encountered a gamebreaking bug. At the end of Chapter 2, I saved the game without even starting Chapter 3. As a result, I could not load my save. My save file is not corrupted. The game simply loads my file but returns me to the previous screen.
With that out of the way, let’s get on with the review!
As a mid-quel to the two DanganRonpa games, it’s expected to see familiar faces and cameo appearances from the first two games. Throughout the game, you’ll have a chance to encounter and meet familiar faces, or recongize the relatives of familiar faces. It’s always good to see a familiar face in a despair ridden world.
The shooting gameplay plays a lot like most third person shooters, so there’s nothing groundbreaking in terms of control. You are also given an option of manual or auto camera control that’s great for gamers who may not enjoy the camera automatically rotating them into unwanted angles.
So where does the third person shooting element shine? It shines with the types of “truth bullets”. Nope, it’s not the same type of bullets where you break lies. These are the type of bullets that send a hacking program using the Megaphone Hacking Gun, which forces the Monokuma robots to perform certain actions such as Break or Dance. There are other bullets that help you get through obstacles such as Detect or Move.
This adds a puzzle element to the third person shooting gameplay.
What is this girl thinking?!? I can’t stop watching...
The game brings together an unlikely pair: Komaru Naegi aka Makoto’s sister, and Toko Fukawa/Genocide Jack. Playing as Komaru gives you the third person shooter experience while playing as Genocide Jack gives you a hack and slash gameplay. It’s fun to go wild and cut everything down.
However, don’t expect a complex system of combos or specials as the hack and slash element is pretty bare bones. But it’s fun to break those Monokuma.
I played the game at the highest difficulty available: Despair. However, I never felt a strong sense of challenge nor overwhelmed by the enemy. And if situation felt a little desperate, I switched to Genocide Jack to easily wipe all the enemies out. If you wish to enjoy the story, you can set the game at the lowest difficulty, and use Genocide Jack to cut through everything.
On top of being easy, the game does a lot of hand holding.
Normally, I would say this is not a bad thing, however, being that the game focuses on the third person shooting, this becomes an issue. While you are trying to move forward in a 3D environment on the prowl for Monokumas, you are constantly interrupted with cut-scenes and long-winded speeches. This can really break the flow as the game takes a few minutes to explain things before letting you proceed further. Keep in mind, the maps aren’t too big.
Also, during animated cut-scenes, there is no option for subtitles. So sometimes, the game will jump from text dialogues to animated cut-scenes, making an uneasy transition. Not a big deal but an option to turn on subtitles would be nice.
When you find certain hidden items such as books, you get bonus dialogues on the conflicting tastes in literature between Toko and Komaru. So this really doesn’t help the pacing issue.
This leads to another issue...
The biggest disappointment from Another Episode is that I don’t feel the same sense of despair or desperation as I did from the first two games. The game is constantly explaining how everyone is in despair or that something terrible happened to them, but the game rarely shows it. As soon as you hear it, you can easily ignore to proceed at shooting Monokuma and experiencing pointless exchanges with Toko and Komaru.
Anything they do show, you really don’t get to know the characters before they’re quickly killed off. It’s hard to care for someone you don’t really know, when all they did was tell you they are in despair. Nice knowing you, whoever you are?
To make matters worse, the characters all talk in a very vague manner. So, the dialogues can become more of an annoyance rather than enjoyable.
I love the first two games, and I want to love DanganRonpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girl but I find myself being disappointed. The game still retains some of the DanganRonpa charm but at the same time, it doesn’t quite hit the right notes. While the gameplay can be fun at times, it’s hampered by pacing issue and endlessly vague dialogues.
As a big fan of the series, it’s worth playing the game once just to get more out of the DanganRonpa lore. But for anyone else, I can’t say I would recommend it.
You’re reading TAY, Kotaku’s community-run blog. TAY is written by and for Kotaku readers like you. We write about games, art, culture and everything in between. Want to write with us? Check out our tutorial here and join in. Or follow us on Twitter @KoTAYku.