We’ll say this about Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls — it’s certainly is another chapter of the popular franchise.
A continuation of sorts of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair — PS Vita titles recently released as a bundle on PS4, by the way — Ultra Despair Girls ditches the 2.5D, point-and-click nature of the franchise and instead is a 3D, over-the-shoulder shooter. This makes it difficult to recommend to anyone but die-hard fans of the franchise.
To start, Ultra Despair Girls will make little to know sense for those unfamiliar with Danganronpa itself. One of the game’s leads, Toko Fukawa — otherwise known as Genocide Jack — returns from Trigger Happy Havoc, and while she endeavours to explain the events of the original, it’s largely glossed over. While Toko and new lead Komaru Naegi are engaging, enjoyable characters, the real charm of the franchise is in the cerebral nature of its investigations. Here, you shoot varieties of Truth Bullets at endless Monokumas (though other enemies eventually rear their ugly heads), clearing narrow corridors and obscenely large rooms before getting a handful of exposition-spewing cutscenes.
First presented as a PS Vita game in 2015, Ultra Despair Girls sure looks it. While the re-released Danganronpa titles had similarly muddy cutscenes, even core gameplay in Ultra Despair Girls looks bland and sparse. Camera control feels cumbersome and clunky, and a full complement of Truth Bullet types — even though you’re Metroided quite early on and have to play with only two types for a long while — make for clumsy weapon switches when you’re already struggling to track baddies. It’s a shooter for shooter’s sake.
There’s a bit of fun to be head in head-shotting (or, really, eye-shotting) enemies for bonus in-game currency, but that too gets old.
Genocide Jack provides a much-needed respite from the shooter, offering limited-use invulnerability and melee combat instead. Here, wonky camera control doesn’t matter and you’re left free to shred anything around you.
Limited collectibles and a strange mini-game in which you use CCTV to plot a safe course around enemies helps to break things up, but it’s not enough. Ultra Despair Girls is repetitive, clunky and worst yet, overly long. An animated film that gathered up all the cutscenes would have served as a better continuation of the world of Danganronpa.
This one’s for obsessives only; all others need not apply.
Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls was reviewed using a promotional code on PS4, as provided by the publisher. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.
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