Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls – First Impression (Very Impressed)
[Before I give my full impression on this game I must make it clear that I haven’t played any Danganronpa games until now. This is my first Dangan game so I’ll be speaking from this game’s perspective with no knowledge of story before or after the events of this game, so just keep that in mind.]
Now that that’s out of the way, let me get into the great story that is Dangaronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls. As I stated before, I’ve never played a Danganronpa title before this so I was completely clueless as to what kind of game I was getting myself into. Though within minutes of me starting up the game, I was instantly hooked.
The story is centered around Komaru Naegi who escapes from being imprisoned within a two bedroom apartment barred within an apartment complex for a year in Towa City and finds herself in the middle of an unusual invasion of demented hell-born children who call themselves the Warriors of Hope who seek vengeance on all adults (Demons are what they most commonly reference the adults to) and cyborg bears by the name of Monokuma’s who are actually controlled by the children of the Warriors of Hope to help them with their task of bringing certain death to all “demons”. Though she’s not alone in this invasion – Upon her sudden escape that was briefly halted by an unkind elevator, she runs into Byakuya Togami, a member of the Future Federation, who was actually sent to rescue her and gives her a Hacking Gun (Megaphone) to protect herself from the Monokuma’s and any other possible threats within the city. It’s from here that the Future Federation hold off the barrage of Monokuma’s coming after her from all angles, giving her enough breathing room to escape the complex and attempt to leave the city & get out of harms way. Though that plan was short-lived after she was captured by the Warriors of Hope (the same group of individuals who imprisoned her in the barred apartment) and inducted Komaru into their “Demon Hunting” game where she was then placed back into the city and forced to survive through all a horrific series traps and waves of Monokuma’s set in her way.
The story itself is laid out very well, as I’m not one who particularly goes for novel-based games through the story and the characters within the story definitely do a great job with reeling me in and keeping me entertained and intrigued in wanting to know what happens next. Komaru’s personality shines through as someone who’s very gullible and passive yet has a hidden strength within her that thrusts her into the driver’s seat whenever she truly needs to take control and handle business. Within the first chapter she encounters another character by the name of Toko Fukawa who seems to have a split personality by the name of Genocide Jack that’s pretty much demonic and insane in every way. Though Toko is able to keep her split personality in check with a single stun gun blast to the head so that she doesn’t resort back to her “serial killer” ways. After taking down a fleet of Monokuma’s upon a rooftop, both Komaru and Toko join forces and travel together in an effort to break free from the “Demon Hunt” game that the Warriors of Hope have thrown them into and escape the city and all its despair.
As you follow the story you’ll quickly notice how Komaru and Toko compliment each other very well as Toko is usually uptight, blunt, and straight to the point while Komaru is more soft spoken, patient, and more observant of her surroundings. Kumaro manages to keep Toko’s sanity in check while Toko is there boosting Komaru’s confidence and keeping her mind on the task at hand whenever she starts to doubt herself or their objective. Though it doesn’t stop there…. as they balance each other out within combat as well.
Kumaro is armed with a Megaphone/Hacking Gun which shoots varied assortments of Truth Bullets that can destroy and/or immobilize Monokuma’s and provide support for moving and/or operating specific mechanisms within the game to accomplish certain specific tasks. Toko on the other hand is all melee, wielding only a pair of scissors to slice and dice those Monokuma’s into tiny bits of metal confetti. You can freely switch between the two with the touch of a button though it’s recommended that try your best to have Komaru do most of the Monokuma thrashing as having Toko do all the work will definitely play a factor in later portions of the game. Health-wise, Komaru runs off of a standard heart system a la Zelda, as she starts with 3 hearts and from there can level up through taking down Monokuma’s and upgrade to more hearts for more health. Toko however is invincible once she goes into Genocide Jack mode, though her rampage is limited. Genocide Jack runs off 3 batteries that start to drain the moment she switches into battle and once all 3 of her batteries are drained, she’s instantly switched out with Komaru and forced to recharge, in which she’ll at least need one full battery fully charged before coming back in to assist Komaru again. Leveling up will acquire you specific skills that can extend the time you can stay in Genocide Jack mode so be sure to stay active in taking down as many Monokuma’s as possible to level up and obtain those upgrades. Combating between the two took some getting use to at first though once you get use to it, it becomes second nature as to when to switch to Toko and when it’s good to just let Komaru head-shot everything in sight.
Though the story of the game plays out like a novel, at the core Ultra Despair Girls burst with third-person combat/puzzle action that pits you against hordes of Monokuma’s coming at you all at once while being tasked to escape from a room by completing specific task that may or may not have to do with the Monokuma’s at all. Each Monokuma Unit ranges in level of difficulty as they each have their own skills and attributes that make them unique to the others. There are 8 Types of Monokuma Units that you’ll run into that will all challenge you in different ways… such as Bomber Monokuma’s who toss 1 to 2 bombs at you each time in an attempt to paint the streets of Towa with your bloody insides and Siren Monokuma’s that set off an alarm that alerts other Monokuma’s to your area from the moment they see you. Knowing the differences between each Monokuma and how to shut them down is essential to your plot of escape and survive within Ultra Despair Girls. Leveling up is also essential to survival as the higher you level up, the more skill points you gain that can be used towards gaining more abilities to your characters or simply raising the stats of you’re characters as well. The higher your level is, the better access of attributes and abilities you’ll have.
As a whole, the game was developed very well. Having balanced the incredible third-person action/puzzle game-play mechanics with the intriguing story hosting captivating characters that truly bring the story alive. You’ll find it quite easy for yourself to get lost within this game once Kumaro’s innocent heart grows on you and has you rooting for her to push through her doubts and prevail through the despair set before her. Toko also manages to bring in a bit of comic relief with her sudden daydream spats she has of Byakuya to where she actually daydreams of Byakuya enslaving her as his own “pig” to command and stay by his side. Yea, you’ll have to play through the first chapter of the game to catch the reference but trust me…. it’s hilarious. Being the Danganronpa game that I’ve ever played I must say that I’m truly considering venturing back to the prior titles to give them a try as well, as I’m interested to see how well this story links up to the previous titles. If you’re a fan of the Danganronpa series, you’ll definitely want to get your hands on Ultra Despair Girls as this game is said to take place between Trigger Happy Havoc and Good Bye Despair. If you’re not a fan of the Danganronpa series, you have until September 1st to get ready to become one as Ultra Despair Girls delivers a fantastic third-person horror action/puzzle experience wrapped within an amazingly written story that only Spike Chunsoft could come up with.
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