Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls (PS Vita) Review
Not so much?
Towa City is a dangerous place. A bunch of children have decided to overthrow their adult oppressors, and to aid them in their quest, they have filled the city with hordes of murderous Monokuma robots. Armed with the powerful Hacking Gun, high school student Komaru Naegi must fight back against the Monokuma army, in the […]
Towa City is a dangerous place. A bunch of children have decided to overthrow their adult oppressors, and to aid them in their quest, they have filled the city with hordes of murderous Monokuma robots. Armed with the powerful Hacking Gun, high school student Komaru Naegi must fight back against the Monokuma army, in the hopes of finding her way out of the city alive.
Taking place between the first and second Danganronpa games, Ultra Despair Girls is a departure from the visual novel whodunnits of the series, instead bringing us more of an action adventure experience. Players take control of two characters: Komaru Naegi, the younger sister of the first game’s protagonist, and Toko Fukawa, a series regular who is known for having a second personality that just happens to be a violent serial killer. Komaru is armed with the Hacking Gun, a weapon which fires a variety of Truth Bullets that can be used both to defeat enemies and solve puzzles – in essence, it’s a stripped-down version of the guns and gadgets used in the likes of Ratchet and Clank. When the going gets tough, it’s possible to temporarily switch to Toko’s murderous alter ego, who can cut her way through enemies using her trademark pairs of scissors.
It’s an interesting departure for the series, but unfortunately, it’s one that doesn’t feel very well implemented. Komaru isn’t designed for close-range attacks, but the clumsiness of aiming the gun and the speed at which Monokumas can spring out of nowhere means that a lot of time is spent just running away trying to get a good shot. Toko is clearly meant to be a last-resort character, as she is overpowered but only able to be used for short amounts of time – overall, it feels like it would have been better to make her a more balanced character. If the aim was to make the player turn each corner with as much dread as the characters must be feeling, then the developers have certainly succeeded. The puzzle sections are fun (and who doesn’t enjoy forcing their enemy to dance), but it’s not quite enough to make up for the pain of combat.
Without going into the specifics, it’s enough to say that Ultra Despair Girls maintains the dark and murderous tone of the series. Whilst it’s interesting to uncover the story that links the first two Danganronpa games, however, when it comes to pacing, this game does drag a lot. Sections of gameplay are often punctuated by repetitive chats between the two main characters, leaving the player unsympathetic to their plight and desperate to get on with the main story.
Whilst the music, character designs and cutscenes are all in keeping with the style of the earlier Danganronpa games, Ultra Despair Girls obviously has something new in the form of its third-person 3D environments. Towa City is quite bleak and utilitarian in appearance, but since this reflects the tone of the game, it’s not that much of an issue – although players may well get bored with the amount of backtracking required, especially as new areas don’t look that different to old ones.
Ultra Despair Girls may mark an interesting foray into new territory for the Danganronpa series, but whilst it stands as a curiosity, it might have been better for the developers to stick with what they know. Had this been a shorter, more polished game, it would have been a great addition to the series, but instead what we’re left with is something mildly entertaining that definitely outstays its welcome.