Danganronpa 1.2 Reload is a compilation disc that features both Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair on one disc. I originally played these games on the PlayStation Vita when each one was released, and what drew my attention to them was that I have a great love for visual novels and I am a big fan of games that are very story based. I wasn’t really sure what to expect going into the games a few years back, but the information I had seen convinced me that I needed to experience these for myself. After finishing each one, I was already ready for the third chapter, but at that point it wasn’t going to be for a few years. Well as luck would have it a few years have now passed and Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony is releasing this September! I knew I was going to need to replay the first two games before diving headfirst into the third, and thankfully NIS America was right there to pick up the localization of Danganronpa 1.2 Reload for the PlayStation 4, to allow fans of the series such as myself and newcomers alike to enjoy these fantastic games once again. Read on for our full review.
I normally prefer playing games on the Vita when capable because I am a very big fan of that little system and love the portability, but I have come to terms with the fact that everything is pretty much going to be on the PS4 going forward. When I downloaded the game and finally turned it on I was greeted with the typical Danganronpa song (It was hard to stop smiling during this). You are then directed to a screen where conveniently you can decide to pick either Trigger Happy Havoc or Goodbye Despair. Of course I picked the first game and began entering the world of Hope’s Peak Academy once more.
You start as a normal kid named Makoto Naegi walking up to the school when your vision becomes blurry and you wake up not remembering anything other than that you indeed were inside the school. After some exploring you meet all your fellow classmates who are also in the same situation as you. After introductions you find yourself with 15 other Ultimate Classmates. The reason why all the students are Ultimates is because Hope’s Peak Academy is a government funded school for gifted students in whatever field they specialize in. You start your new life as the Ultimate Lucky Student and live along side your classmates inside the school. Or if only it was that easy. You and your fellow peers don’t know why you’re stuck in the school or where any of the other students are. Eventually after more searching you are greeted by the one and only Monokuma.
Even more confused at this point, Monokuma tells you why you are in the school and the only way to get out of it. Kill or be killed… Just don’t get found out. Throughout the game you find yourself being a mixture of a detective, friend, and even an attorney fighting for the truth to survive. This game allows you to have free time to explore all you want, sleep, or the recommended spending time with whatever classmate of your choosing to get closer to them and fill up your skills. You also have a store where you can use Monokuma Coins (found by randomly searching throughout the areas) to buy gifts for your friends to help improve your skill and relationship with them.
Every area in the game and even the areas you unlock help you in finding the truth out about the school and why you need to get out (Or stay in?). Even though each student has no idea what’s going on including you, you all work together (for the most part) to try to uncover the truth and find a way to escape before despair takes over. The one thing to also really look at is the art style of the game. I loved it and I enjoyed how all of the characters looked, including Monokuma himself. This is one of those games that you need to really pay attention to in order to fully understand the story. Especially when playing the second game. There were moments when I had to go back and re-read what was said because I was so in awe by the story and how incredibly well it was put together.
In the second game, Goodbye Despair, the controls are largely the same that you are accustomed to. In the first, you are always in first person view during the game. In the second, you find yourself switching from 2D to first person quite often when exploring. It doesn’t impact anything, just a different way of traveling and progressing through the story. The art style is exactly the same and each of the characters in the second one have great personalities and have a style that fits them perfectly. You start off trying to become friends with your classmates and to work together to help bring hope to everyone on the island with you. But once again despair comes knocking.
You play as Hajime Hinata who is also the ‘Ultimate Lucky Student’. I must admit when I first started Goodbye Despair I was already asking myself questions and trying to figure out the ending. Which I really enjoyed because when the actual ending was revealed and everything started coming together my mind was blown and I was almost speechless. Which makes me even more excited for Killing Harmony to release and to see just how they are going to tie everything together and improve upon the foundation that have set.
While playing both games I tried to see what the difference was from the Vita and from the PlayStation 4. Although the art style was exactly the same, the actual characters themselves were a lot clearer and appeared to have more details in them. You can tell where they spent more time touching up the graphics and models and where they didn’t. Even for the backgrounds which have a bit of a lower quality to them, it didn’t bother me at all.
During gameplay the controls were exactly the same between both games with only minor things changed in the transition from handheld to home console. It was extremely easy to learn the newer controls. Even during the debates the controls were the same, with both having different battle types but they were easy to learn and understand. And you are able to press a button if you don’t remember something and it will tell you what to do again. That’s something I greatly enjoyed. It involved more thinking than anything else, and challenges players to come up with the solution and answers.
To me these games are part of a fantastic series that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. I found that when I was playing each one, I was so sucked into the story and everything going on in the school or beach that it was hard to actually put the controller down and remind myself that I have to actually live my life as well and I can’t just play these games all day. Even though I wish I could. Another great thing is that there is an anime adaptation available for the franchise. I have seen what’s available except for the most recent because I don’t want any spoilers heading into Danganronpa V3. If you are looking for a game with a great story, art, characters, and makes you feel like a detective, this is the best game out there for that. I’ve played these games to completion twice now, and I would gladly do it all over again. Now we enter the final six month stretch until Killing Harmony! At least we have Ultra Despair Girls to look forward to on the PlayStation 4 in June until then.