By Chris Melchin / July 4th, 2017
|Title||Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls|
|Publisher||NIS America (PS4), Spike Chunsoft (Steam)|
|Release Date||June 27, 2017 (NA), June 23, 2017 (EU)|
|Age Rating||ESRB – Mature|
The Danganronpa series has some of my favorite games on the PS Vita. However, in addition to some incredible games, the series also has some somewhat complex lore, especially if you’re only playing the games. Enter Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls, originally released on PS Vita in 2015, a spin-off set between the two original games and meant to bridge them together. This is a re-review, meaning that I’ll mainly be looking at the technical quality of the PS4 port. If you want a full review of the game itself, you can find it here.
The PS4 version changes relatively little, upscaling the resolution and frame rate, and including dual audio by default as opposed to free DLC. Nothing dramatic has been done, but frankly I don’t think anything needed to be done.
The game visually looks great, aside from a few minor visual glitches. Models and textures have all been upscaled, and look crisp and clean at 1080p even with the PS4’s lack of anti-aliasing, and the game runs at a consistent 60 frames per second. The game switches between four visual styles: the standard in-game graphics, pre-rendered 3D cut-scenes, the paper cut-out style from the previous games, and full anime scenes. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way to turn on subtitles when playing the game in English, nor are there many configuration options in general. I would have liked to see more options, especially a way to increase camera sensitivity, since it ordinarily moves quite sluggishly in manual mode and when aiming. Also, while the 3D models and textures are upscaled nicely, the anime and cut-out style sequences suffer from more blurring that comes with upscaling.
Speaking of minor problems, Ultra Despair Girls has upgrades you can apply to each form of ammo that your gun can carry. Aside from some types, most ammo can hold two upgrades, with some combinations giving more potent results than others. Unfortunately, the game does a very poor job of explaining what these upgrades do. There are three stats for each ammo type, which change with different upgrades, but what each stat means goes unexplained, making it unclear what upgrades do or how the supposedly better combinations are superior to others.
As for the visual glitches and occasional weirdness, the ones I’ve seen are nothing major, and I don’t know if they were present in the original. For example, there are a couple jittery textures here and there that vibrate slightly as the camera moves, and the targeting laser goes straight through non-hostile character models. Although Toko is meant to warp behind you when you’re aiming and move off-screen, she teleports while she’s still slightly onscreen, meaning that if you move the camera slowly enough you can catch her blinking out of existence once she’s at the edge. None of it is anything that affects the experience as a whole, and may be a result of the porting and upscaling job – the Toko thing in particular seems like it could be a result of the slightly different aspect ratio of 1080p compared to the Vita’s 960 x 544 – and ultimately, these are pretty small issues considering how bad some ports can be. It may not be the case with the PC version, since PC ports tend to have more bugs at launch, as well as controls that may not be properly laid out for keyboards, but I played the PS4 version so I can’t say anything about the PC port.
Ultra Despair Girls has a somewhat darker tone than the other Danganronpa games, at least in a more outright way. Part of the atmosphere is the reactions of protagonist Komaru Naegi; while others may see her as annoying with her indecisiveness and tendency to be a coward, I think she’s relatable. She’s an ordinary student, suddenly thrust against her will into a ruined post-apocalyptic city, with robots slaughtering people left and right while psychotic kids try to hunt her down and kill her. Her reactions not only make her seem more normal, but add to the overall oppressive atmosphere of the world. Toko serves as a counterbalance, which helps her grow as the story progresses. While I do see the argument that she’s annoying, I think it works within the context of the game and her personality. Also, while I like the story and exposition through the visual novel sequences, I do think they interrupt gameplay a bit too often.
Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls is worth playing on PS4 if you’re a fan of the series, especially considering the recent release of Danganronpa 1+2 Reload on the system. If you’ve played it before, the PS4 version is really only worth getting if you really want the upgraded graphics and frame rate. It’s certainly good for $29.99 USD, with the same 18-hour game for less than the original version, but only for fans who want to know more about the series’ lore. It’s not as good as the original two games, but it’s a very different kind of experience and a new way of seeing the Danganronpa world and story.
Review copy provided by publisher
DanganronpaDanganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair GirlsNIS AmericaSpike Chunsoft