Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls comes to the EU and gives Vita players a different kind of Danganronpa experience. We review the third Vita game in the successful series.
There are very few developers/publishers out there that are more committed to the Vita than NIS. With three titles in the last three months and more coming before the end of the year, we applaud them for supporting Sony’s handheld with unique, quality games. The latest to arrive is Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls. Quite the mouthful, and part of the critically acclaimed Danganronpa series. Not a true sequel and more of a spin-off, the game takes place in between the events of the previous two Vita games.
You play the role of Komaru Naegi, who spent well over a year trapped inside an apartment. Once freed, she quickly discovers that the city around her has been thrown into a state of chaos. She, and her rescuer Byakuya Togami, are quickly attacked by an army of bear-like robots who are out to get them. These robots, resembling a weird and creepy mix of panda bears and teddy bears, are being controlled by a group called the Warriors of Hope. To make matters even stranger, the Warriors of Hope are actually a group of children, whose main goal is to take over the city by getting rid of all the adults. And by that they mean murdering them – so that a children’s utopia arrives that is no longer bound by the rules that adults enforce on them.
The plot is ‘out there’, and the subject matter is so controversial and unique that it keeps you intrigued throughout the entire game. This is enhanced by the many plot twists, with characters who suddenly turn against you or acts of cruelty you hadn’t imagined before. The way everything unfolds is different from the previous Danganronpa games though – while the focus in those games was firmly on story development and the mystery unfolding before you, Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls is (in comparison) much more action-heavy. In between the many story sequences, with lots of text to read (somewhat of a staple in NIS games), you’ll now be shooting your way through many parts in which you’re trying to save yourself from the robot bear onslaught.
These sequences, by themselves, aren’t necessarily great. We’ve seen much better third person shooters, even on the Vita, and the main role for these action scenes is to serve as a bridge between two story sections. There’s a clever twist to the action as well, where you can use your gun (a special ‘hacking gun’ that is perfect against robots) to overcome a variety of puzzling scenarios. In most of these, you’ll be combining several skills that your gun has – you can turn machines on and off, stun enemies (by making them dance!) or knock enemies back, for instance.
The audiovisual presentation in Ultra Despair Girls is every bit as striking as its storyline – the cartoon-style graphics really stand out, and offer a nice degree of contrast to the grim subject matter. It’s a story that is all about extremes, and the over the top art style enhances this. Bright pink blood flows freely, making everything that is going on as ‘in your face’ as it can be. Still – what that does is emphasize the story, which is the main attraction here. Perhaps not the best starting point for those who are new to Danganronpa, but a fine addition to the series.