Developed by Spike Chunsoft and released through NIS America internationally, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair is the sequel to February’s Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and follows the story of Hajime Hinata, a student about to begin his time at Hope’s Peak Academy, where only the best of the best are allowed in. He walks through the door and is quickly introduced to the rest of the Freshmen class as they try to figure out why they can’t leave. We’re then introduced to Usami, a talking stuffed rabbit, who reveals that they’re all on a tropical island separated from society. After passing out from shock, he’s woken up by one of the students and then spends the next few hours formally introducing himself to the rest of the class. Just when Hajime begins to think everything is fine, the sky goes dark and they’re all summoned to the central island where Monokuma, the antagonist from the first game, tells the class that the only way to leave the island is by getting away with murder.
If you’ve played the original game you know what to expect, but for those unaware, here’s the spoiler free jist. Monkuma gives a motive in which a student would be compelled to kill, someone is killed and then they hold a class trial, in which the group has to figure out who the killer is. If the right person is found guilty, then they are executed and the days go on. If the wrong person is picked, everyone except the killer is executed and they get to leave. Imagine if Battle Royale was solved through debate.
The story is absolutely phenomenal and right on par with the original in my opinion. With great characterization that really makes you feel for each of the cast members, tons of unexpected twists and turns and and a lot of heart and humor, you really get drawn in for the entire 30 hour story and don’t want to put it down until you’re finished. NIS America does a great job with their translations and dub, though it was a nice touch to be able to switch to the Japanese voices if I felt so inclined.
In terms of gameplay it follows very closely to the original, though it adds in some interesting additions that really help the game feel like a proper sequel. For one, while you can fast travel, a lot of your traveling is done via a 2D side-scroller, which looks really cool while in motion. The first person areas return, and have a lot more interaction points and hidden objectives scattered throughout than before. Exploring areas gains you experience which you can use during the class trials, so finding and examining everything is important in this game. During free time you can bond with the characters, which give you hope fragments that you can use to gain new skills. On top of that, there is a Tomodochi-esque virtual pet that you can take care of, which will net you extra items and gifts you can use in the game.
During the class trials, most of it has remained the same from the original, but they added in a couple new or updated features to make it more interesting. You still mainly use “truth bullets” aka evidence to shoot down contradictions, but now there is a rebuttal system in which you engage in a one on one debate with another character, a logic dive, in which you traverse a Tron-like area to piece together clues, and the Hangman’s Gambit and Bullet Time Battle (Now called Panic Talk Action) have been updated to be more interactive a provide a deeper challenge. All of these changes are welcomed, and really feel like a natural progression of the series.
Outside of the main game, there is an island mode, in which you build items and bond with classmates for 50 days, Magical Girl Miracle Monomi, a 3d brawler in which you take out enemies using Monomi and Danganronpa IF, a translated light novel that details a what if scenario from the first game. All add tons of hours and replayability to the game, so chances are, this will be a game you play for a very, very long time.
All in all, Danganronpa 2 is a fantastic sequel that features great writing, great characters, tons of replayability and lots of new features that fans of the original should enjoy. If you like murder mysteries or need another reason to turn on your Vita, than this is the game for you.