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Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair Review

Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair Review

Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair Review

Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair Review. "Definitely deserves the attention of the PS Vita audience. A game that oozes style."


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Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair definitely deserves the attention of the PS Vita audience. Despite a small number of gameplay shortcomings, there’s a lot to love in this game. The fast-paced trials, the eclectic cast of characters and the sheer uncompromising style of it all makes Danganronpa 2 a trip worth taking.

Developed by Spike Chunsoft and published by NIS America, Danganronpa 2 is the second game in the Danganronpa series to be released in the US. I enjoyed Spike’s previous work on the DS puzzle thriller 999 as well as its follow up Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward. Both games emphasize a visual novel style that accompanies a weird but engaging storyline. The Danganronpa series is a clear evolution of these earlier works.

The Story

The story in Danganronpa 2 is bizarre to say the least. The player controls Hajime Hinata, an unassuming new student at the prestigious Hope’s Peak Academy. However, once he steps through the doors of his new school, he blacks out and wakes up to find himself trapped on an island paradise along with 15 of his fellow classmates. A strange talking teddy bear named Monokuma explains that the only way for any of them to escape the island is for one of them to murder a classmate without any of the other students discovering the culprit. If the murderer is discovered, he/she will be executed in front of the remaining students. If the murderer escapes detection, everyone else will be executed, making the murderer the only survivor.


Now, this is where some prior knowledge might be handy, as Danganronpa 2 is a direct follow-up to Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc. There are many characters, events and even plot twists that directly relate to the first game. Danganronpa 2 explains the minimum before barreling forward towards an insane conclusion. It is highly advised that players first play Danganronpa before tackling the sequel. While this can be seen as a negative, Danganronpa is a story-based series, so starting at the beginning is advised anyway. I will do my best to avoid spoilers for both games in this review.

The Characters Are Great

Each murder breaks the gameplay into chapters, but in between the murders there is ample free time to bond with fellow classmates. As you learn more about them it quickly becomes apparent that these characters are not two-dimensional. Each student has been accepted into Hope’s Peak Academy due to a special talent. As a result, the students carry labels such as The Ultimate Gamer or The Ultimate Princess. Each character is compelling in some way and their personalities were a pleasure to experience. The Ultimate Manager, Nekomaru Nidai, stood out as the highlight for me. He is boisterous, friendly and manly, spelled with a capitol ‘M’.

During these times of peace, and highlighting their well-rounded personalities, fellow students will confide a host of fears they have if you can gain their trust. However, this trust can be seen as double-edged as each murder becomes more shocking than the last. You can also use the free time to explore the island or play the Monokuma ‘Yachine,’ a strange device which gives out prizes in exchange for coins. These prizes can, in turn, be used to further your bonds with the other students.


Investigative Mode and Class Trials

When a murder inevitably occurs, the gameplay shifts into investigative mode. It’s here that the game really shines, as players collect clues about the murder in order to piece together how it was committed and by whom. This is a well-crafted aspect of the gameplay, forcing the player to think critically about how the events could have occurred.

That being said, some of the murders are insanely complex, and the answers are often obtuse and strange. Late in the game, the murders take on a near mystical quality due to the amount of preparation and foresight needed to commit them. While answers do ultimately reveal themselves, it’s oftentimes due to player perseverance rather than insight. This is much more prevalent in Dangonronpa 2 than it is in the first game. Having beaten the first game already, I was surprised at how complex the murders could be right off the bat. It’s almost as if the developers viewed Danganronpa 2 as a continuation rather than a sequel. While I’m sure the murders in Danganronpa 2 can be solved without playing the first game, it certainly will be more difficult if you haven’t.


The Class Trial is the third portion of any murder. It’s an intense, fast-paced discussion where players use the clues they’ve gathered and their own insights to correctly determine the culprit. The Class Trials are the other highlight of the game, as players pit their wits against those of the murderer in order to survive. Most of the Class Trial involves Nonstop Debates in which characters debate while the player looks for logical inconsistencies or statements that can be backed up with evidence. The latter is a new addition to Danganronpa 2. In the first game, players could only ‘break’ false statements with clues. In Danganronpa 2, players can ‘agree’ with statements and provide evidence to reinforce them. It adds a new layer of challenge to an already intense scene. At times the situations get overwhelming, but there is little punishment for taking your time and the game offers hints for players who are stumped.

The other sections of the Class Trial are less successful and consist of a series of mini-games. Logic Dives are moments wherein Hajime ventures into his mind to try to deduce the answer to a particular puzzle. The answer is usually obvious, however, and this gameplay feature isn’t strong enough to be played enjoyably for any length of time. Additionally, the hit detection can be a bit off at times, which led me to my doom more than once.

The Hangman’s Gambit is a version of the game Hangman. This is my least favorite mini-game, as it is too hectic and imprecise to be played well. It also isn’t very fun, which is its biggest sin.

The Rebuttal Showdown is just like the basic trial, except only one character is arguing. This mini-game is passable, but slicing through a false fact takes too long and often means redoing the segment.

Finally, the Bullet Time Battle mini-game is a rhythm game where players press buttons according to the beat. This can get difficult at times, but usually it’s just a matter of pressing the right button.


Despite the mini-games, I still found the Class Trial to be engaging. The Nonstop Debates are fun, the music is excellent, and the characters shine as they play off each other. I enjoyed how many of the clues I had uncovered seemed meaningless until midway through a trial, when a character in a debate would say something to give it meaning. However, having all the pieces fall together and figuring out who did it before the game reaches that point is even more satisfying.

Oozing Style

Finally, I have to mention how stylish this game is. Both games in the Dangonronpa Series ooze with style. The music is upbeat and catchy to the point of having found a permanent place on my phone. The characters are unapologetically anime, with spiked hair, strange outfits, and bold personalities. While some of the environments can be bland, others absolutely pop. Monokuma Park is one of these wild environments – a twisted version of Disneyland that will introduce players to two of the most purposefully obnoxious buildings in the entire game.


Final Thoughts

When all is said and done, Danganronpa 2 is best viewed as a continuation of the first game rather than a sequel. The gameplay faults in both games are very similar, but the outstanding style and outlandish stories are what make the Danganronpa series enjoyable. If you’re interested in a murder mystery game with strange characters and an even stranger world, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair is an easy recommendation. However, try Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc first. The story will make more sense that way, and the murders will be a bit easier to get into. I recommend checking out a trailer to see if the game looks appealing. If it does, you’ll probably find a lot to love.

Final Grade: B+
Eccentric characters and an even more eccentric world
Class Trials are extremely enjoyable
Outstanding style both visually and musically
– Mini-games take away from the action



Kyle Brown

Kyle Brown

Kyle enjoys all things games. From video games to pen and paper games, his interests span the mecca of gaming. When he isn't playing games, he can often be found making them. Kyle is currently in the Game Development specialization at Michigan State University, and he hopes to turn it into a career in the games industry. Â Kyle's favorite adventure games are The Walking Dead Season 1, Danganronpa, Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward, Tales from the Borderlands, and Machinarium. His gaming interests aren't focused exclusively on adventure games, however. Some of his favorite non-adventure games are Final Fantasy VI, VII, and XII, Mass Effect, Dark Souls, Shadow of the Colossus, The Last of Us, and The Unfinished Swan. Â When not gaming, Kyle loves to watch movies and read in his spare time. His favorite movie is currently not known, as he cannot pick from his growing list of favorites. His favorite book is Ender's Game, with Ready Player One as a close second. Kyle is currently trying to bring back the word 'radical', and his friends wish that he would stop.

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