By Justin Guillou / September 19th, 2014
Every day in the game, you wake up, meet with your classmates for an early morning meal and then find something to do for the day. This is where you can hang out on the island, speak to the other students, buy gifts and care for your Tamagotchi-like pet. Before you get too excited, the pet-raising mechanics are fairly slim — you have to keep it alive by cleaning it every so often and, occasionally, feed it items you get throughout the game. You can earn experience for both the pet and yourself by walking around and examining objects. Once Hajime has reached a certain amount of steps on the island, it can evolve and may give you more items and Monocoins to be used to buy more gifts. Spending time with the other students is the way you can get to know them and gain Hope Fragments. The Hope Fragments can be traded in for abilities to make the Class Trials easier for you. Upgrades include more health during the trial, or better shooting abilities among many others. By leveling up, your capacity for equippable abilities increase. So, if you want to equip more abilities for the trials, you better burn those calories and go on a massive jog.
When one of the students gets murdered and their dead body is discovered by three other students, Monokuma will make an announcement, and you will be able to investigate the environment where the student was murdered. Hajime will begin gathering clues or truth bullets by examining any suspicious objects in the area. You can also get some clues by talking to the other characters. Once you have gained enough information, the class trial will begin. These parts feel more like a minigame compilation than, say, trials in the Ace Attorney games. There are several different things you will be doing to figure out how the murder played out. The first is the nonstop debate which is similar to Ace Attorney’s cross examinations, mixed with elements of an on-rail shooter. You listen to what everyone has to say and, if they say anything that contradicts a piece of evidence, you can aim at and shoot the statement with a truth bullet. There will also be purple statements known as white noise which can also be shot at for a time bonus. If you reach the end of the debate without doing anything, it simply repeats until the time runs out. You can fast forward through the debate with the O button. This is actually really amusing to do since all the characters try to do their best impression of Alvin and the Chipmunks, but time goes down much faster. You can slow down the debate by using the R button, but that drains your Focus Gauge, and it can take a while to recover at times, so do not spam it.
Sometimes, when you present a piece of evidence, someone will try to argue with you, which will start a rebuttal. In these sections, you have to cut through the other person’s words. You do this by using the D-Pad or swiping on the touch screen. I didn’t care for this section. I appreciate the attempt at a literal take on arguments, but this was too much. Sometimes, during the trial, Hajime needs to piece together a large amount of info at a time, so he has to perform a Logic Dive. These sections have Hajime on a board going through some sort of digital tunnel while dodging obstacles and going through the right paths to find the truth. These parts played like a much more fast-paced version of Knuckle’s Chaotix‘s special stages, and were actually really fun. To end a trial, Hajime must go through the PTA or Panic Talk Action. This is a weird rhythm game where you have to hold the X button in tune with the music and lock on to their statements to destroy them. I found this part very confusing at first, but eventually I got used to it.
There is one more segment to the trials I didn’t mention yet. Why you ask? *WARNING RANT INCOMING* If there is one thing about these trials that bring the game down, it is the segments known as the Hangman’s Gambit. These occur when Hajime needs to figure out a specific object, so he starts thinking, which triggers the minigame. A bunch of letters travel across the screen, and you have to match the same letter together and then either swipe or press Triangle to use the letter to spell out a word. Sounds simple enough, right? There is a catch. You have to use the letters in the correct order, otherwise you lose health. ALSO, if two different letters collide with each other, they explode, and you lose more health. Even worse, the letters that appear are random, so, say you missed the letter you needed. You have to wait for it to appear and, sometimes, it just will not appear in time. In the later Class Trials, the screen is filled with letters, making it so hard to keep track of everything. You will be trying to get one letter then next thing you know, four to six other letters just collided with each other and you lost a bunch of health.
Sure, I played the game on the Mean difficulty, but it is still absolutely ridiculous at times, and, when I finally finish up the section, I just barely have enough health for the rest of the trial. What makes these sections really irritating to me is that the word you have to spell out is incredibly obvious. The game has you try to figure out way more complex stuff through a dialogue choice menu, yet, in order to come up with the simpler solutions, you have to play Hangman’s Gambit. It can be frustrating when you figure out the murder weapon before Hajime does and know the answer, yet have to suffer a silly minigame just so he can catch up to you. These sections are unnecessary and slow everything down significantly. I am aware you can speed this minigame up with the O button, but that just makes your timer go down faster and the letters move faster, which means I am more likely to lose even more health. I’ve done enough rambling on this, so I’m moving on.
Danganronpa: 2 G0oodbye Despair is a relatively lengthy game. It will probably take you around 30 hours to see everything. When you beat the game, you unlock a couple of bonus modes. One allows you to just live your life on the island without all of the killing and drama. Another is a novel to give you some more insight on the backstory of some of the major characters. Overall, Danganronpa 2 tells a really compelling story, but is unfortunately held back by some silly segments in the class trials. The game may start off fairly tame, but, by Chapter 4, you will be on the edge of your seat, and the last parts of the game are quite the emotional roller coaster. Spending $40 on this one may put you in despair at first, but it will all be worth it in the long run!
Review copy provided by the publisher
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