Hey everyone, I have officially completed Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls! The game will launch exclusively on the PlayStation Vita on September 1st in North America. I want to thank NIS America for providing me with a review copy for Ultra Despair Girls.
From start to finish, it took me 18 hours to complete Danganronpa Another Episode. I didn’t know what to expect going into the game, I felt a little worried that the story would suffer since it wasn’t a traditional visual novel type game like the last two Danganronpa games. Well, my worries were completely put to rest after playing a few hours of Ultra Despair girls. The game feels almost exactly like you’re playing another visual novel set in the Danganronpa universe, and that’s, despite the fact that now it’s in full 3D. Like previous entries in the Danganronpa series, you will see tons and tons of text, but unlike the last two games, Ultra Despair girls offers full voice acting for nearly every line of text you see in the game. I personally feel that having nearly every line of text be voiced is, great! I loved Danganronpa 1 and 2, but one thing that always bothered me, was the fact that so many lines of text weren’t voiced at all, so the fact that Ultra Despair girls goes that extra mile and provided so much voice acting, is a major plus in my opinion. I can also report that the voice acting is excellent! Every character in the game is voiced well, and none of the characters voices feel out of place. I have to give credit where credit is due, Ultra Despair girls has one of the best dub casts from any Japanese game I have played this year.
When you boot up Ultra Despair girls, you will be presented with a few difficultly options. You can choose from Genocide Mode, Komaru Mode and Despair Mode. I personally went with Komaru Mode since it strikes a good balance, it’s not too hard and it’s not terribly easy. After picking your difficultly level, your off to experience Ultra Despair Girls. You will be presented with one of the games main protagonists “Komaru Naegi” The way the game introduces you to Komaru is via a fully animated cut scene, which looks jaw dropping! Seriously, I think they should make an anime out of this game. The game explains that Komaru was imprisoned, so she’s forced to spend each day in a room, with no contact with the outside world. Soon afterwards, something knocks on her door, and she believes it make be someone trying to rescue her, sadly it’s a Monokuma that breaks down the door. Komaru has no other choice but to run, thankfully she stumbles upon Byakuya Togami, which is also known as the Ultimate Affluent Progeny. Byakuya and a few generic members of future foundation attempt to suppress the small Monokuma army that’s trying to kill Komaru. Byakuya hands Komaru a weapon that was made by future foundation, this weapon allows the user to take the fight to the Monokumas.
Towa City has been taken over by an army of Monokumas, and the group behind all this despair inducing chaos are known as “The Warriors of Hope” The Warriors of Hope consists of 5 members Masaru, Nagisa, Jataro, Kotoko and Monaca. One thing will become apparent from the start, each member in the Warriors of Hope are insane! They despise adults, so much so that they go around and slaughter them with no mercy. The writing in Ultra Despair Girls is impressive, the more time I put into the game, the more I started to see that each member of the Warriors of Hope have their own motivations for killing adults, it’s not just because they think it’s fun. I won’t ruin anything, but you will come to understand why they have been driven crazy, at times I honestly felt sorry for them.
Ultra Despair Girls takes place before the events in the second game, and while it isn’t required you have previous knowledge of what took place in the first game, your experience will be greatly enhanced if you pick up and play Danganronpa Trigger Happy Havoc. If you don’t have the time to play the first visual novel, then I highly recommend you watch the 12 episode anime that way you know exactly what occurs before the events depicted in Ultra Despair girls. Everyone who has played the first game, will pick up on and notice several hints from the first game. I don’t want to spoil too much, but I can confirm that you will meet a few relatives of the games first cast.
Now let’s discuss the game play. Thanks to the weapon that Byakuya handed you at the start of the game, you will have several truth bullets at your disposal. At the very start, you will have every truth bullet unlocked, but that doesn’t last long, you will soon have them reduced down to two. The most basic truth bullet is ‘Break” you will use this a lot to engage and neutralize any Monokuma threats. Additionally, if you’re able to hit a Monokuma in its weak spot, which is the left eye, it will result in a insta kill. You also have access to the “Move” truth bullet, which allows you to move certain objects, like cars. Gradually as you progress throughout the game, you will gain access to more truth bullets, each one has its purpose. The game itself plays like a third person shooter character movement and aiming your weapon feel fluid, and it’s always satisfying when you take down a ton of Monokumas charging you. The game has a great variety of Monokumas to defeat. You will encounter Beast Monokumas, Guard Monokumas and a few more. The fact that the game constantly throws new enemy types at you, keeps the game feeling fresh.
Joining you on your journey throughout Towa City is Toko Fukawa the Ultimate Writing Prodigy. I won’t spoil her character, but if you played the first game, well you know she has a big problem with her split personalities. The game actually lets you play as Toko, and it’s an absolute blast! With one type of the button, you switch to Toko and you unleash hell upon the hordes of Monokumas. Toko is much more effective at taking the enemy out with her fast and brutal attacks, but the game doesn’t give you an unlimited amount of time to play as her, instead you have a battery meter on the screen, once the batteries deplete that’s it, you switch back to Komaru.
Throughout the game, you will see the relationship between Toko and Komaru grow. Komaru starts the game off feeling scared, and all she wants is to leave the city and get to safety. I actually felt a little annoyed since Komaru cries so much, and she’s reluctant to actually fight. Thankfully Komaru starts becoming more brave as the game progresses, and overall I loved her character. It’s pretty hard to come up with something negative about Ultra Despair girls, though I will say that the arcade machines in the game get annoying since you’re forced to play them frequently.
I spent most of my time with Ultra Despair Girls on the PlayStation TV, and let me tell you, the game looks flat-out gorgeous! I have never seen a better looking PlayStation Vita game before, I have a large collection of games on the Vita, and I have yet to find a game that looks better graphics wise to Ultra Despair Girls. The character models are smooth and sharp looking, and thankfully I didn’t experience very much frame rate slow downs in my 18 hour journey. I do want to point one thing out though, if you like multitasking while you play Vita games, you won’t be able to do it here. While playing Ultra Despair Girls, I tried multiple times, to open a few different apps, sadly they all prompted me to close the game down before accessing them. I honestly don’t know why Ultra Despair Girls forces you to shut the game down if you want access to other apps, for example your friend’s list or messages. I think it might be because the game pushes the Vita to its limits.
Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls, is my personal game of the year so far, and it’s my favorite PlayStation Vita game. If you enjoyed the Danganronpa visual novels, I think you’re going to have a blast with Ultra despair Girls. The story, combat and characters makes this one of the most memorable games I have played in a long time. In, my opinion it’s a must own title. I give Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls a well-deserved 10/10