The Danganronpa series first debuted back in 2010 for the PlayStation Portable as a Japanese exclusive before finally releasing in the US on the PlayStation Vita in 2014. Alongside that came the release of the second game as well, but while waiting for the upcoming third game that has already released in Japan, Spike Chunsoft decided to try something quite a bit different with Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls, which has now arrived for PS4.
Previously handheld exclusives, Danganronpa has been gradually making its way to other platforms, starting with PC last year. A few months ago brought a collection of the first two games to PlayStation 4 and now Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls is getting similar treatment by being ported to home consoles.
While Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls released after the second game, it actually takes place between the first two games. As with most series, you really should play the first game at least before jumping into this one due to some potential spoilers and just the ability to more greatly appreciate many nods to the first game while playing. However, the good thing is that this game can still be enjoyed by someone freshly jumping into the series due to it having completely different gameplay.
Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls follows the lead Komaru Naegi, sister of the first game’s protagonist, who has been trapped as of the start of the game. Before long, she gets freed and thrown into a crazy game where she is just trying to stay alive as the Warriors of Hope are trying to take out all adults to make the world a paradise for kids only. Komaru is quickly teamed up with Toko Fukawa, who has a crazy split personality known as Genocide Jack, with them trying to escape with their lives.
Those that are used to the RPG based gameplay of the mainline series are going to be shocked when starting up this game, as it is nothing like that at all. Instead, Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls features a third person perspective with you walking through the different areas of the game with only your trusty megaphone hacking gun to protect you from the hordes of creepy bear enemies known as Monokuma that you will face throughout the game. This adds a bit more of a horror based setting than the rest of the series, though it’s far from anything like Resident Evil.
The gun based combat is pretty standard, with you pulling out the gun with one button and firing with another. The aiming can be a bit clunky at times, especially when you’re facing an army of enemies at once, but it should work well enough most of the time for you to get by without many issues.
Using the gun in battle may start off very basic, with you simply shooting to attack the Monokuma, specifically aiming for their weak spot, but there are a number of upgrades you will obtain by advancing through the game. It is just fine to stick with the typical method for most, but I can’t say how satisfying it is to attract all the Monokuma in an area by using the Dance attack on a Siren Monokuma and then cause a Bomber Monokuma to explode and take out the entire group.
This actually is something you will have to do throughout the game in the numerous challenge rooms you come across, which have different victory conditions. The most common of these is to take out all enemies at once, which typically involves using a Bomber Monokuma to blow up the area. These never really get too challenging to figure out, but they are still quite enjoyable to figure out regardless.
While you will be using Komaru for most of the game, you can also switch to Toko’s Genocide Jack form in battle very sparingly as well. This limited form has her running wild with melee attacks, which is quite a change from the shooter gameplay of Komaru. Genocide Jack can be used as long as you have battery juice, but as soon as it drains, you will automatically revert back to Komaru. It may be disappointing to not be able to use her that often, but she is a big help when facing many enemies at once and manages to keep the game well balanced.
Between both Komaru and Genocide Jack, there are upgrades you can unlock as well, which can help you in different areas. Komaru has two of these, one of which are new skills. By finding skill books in the game, you will be able to equip new skills, such as the ability to auto-aim and such, though your level depends on how many you can actually equip at one time. There are also shops that you can buy new Bling Bullet upgrades for your bullets that you can mix together to get better stat boosts on the different bullet types you can use. Genocide Jack’s upgrades are also found at these shops, where you can increase stats such as how quickly she attacks.
Like many games ported from the PlayStation Vita to PS4, you can definitely see its handheld roots holding it back quite a bit. The visuals are obviously lacking quite a bit compared to other similar games released on current-gen consoles from the start. They aren’t bad by any means, with the anime style coming across quite well, but it’s still nothing to write home about either.
The environments you explore throughout the game are pretty small and linear, with little room to go off track. There are some collectibles to find throughout, such as the hidden kid constellations, but they are almost always right where you have to walk by. It definitely would have been nice to have seen what Spike Chunsoft could have done with this type of game on a console from the start, rather than the restricted handheld that isn’t as long as its RPG counterparts.
While Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls moves away from the RPG gameplay, it still maintains the visual novel storytelling aspect. There are a number of cutscenes in the game, but most of the story is driven by simple conversations that have character art over a static background, which can get a little long winded at times.
The PS Vita did not sell as well as Sony had obviously hoped, keeping many people away from the Danganronpa series, but thankfully NIS America has been bringing it to PS4 and PC in the US now, with the latest being a bit different. Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls offers rather basic, yet still fun third person shooter gameplay in a more horror based setting, which is definitely worth checking out for any fans of this very unique franchise ahead of the release of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony later this year.
The Danganronpa series may have seemed a bit daunting in the past due to its RPG gameplay, but now Spike Chunsoft has created a solid gateway game with Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls. Featuring various bullet types from those that cause enemies to dance or those that knock them back, there is plenty of fun to be had here in this often very creepy game.
7.0 Creepy Monokuma Out Of 10
Release Date: June 27th, 2017 (US)
Available Platforms: PS4, PC
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Disclosure: Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls Was Provided By The Publisher For Coverage Purposes