Danganronpa series is well known for its memorable cast of characters and a story with many twists and turns. The main games are predominately visual novels but with Another Episode, the developers have attempted to create a third person spin-off with the same stylish visuals and art style for which the series is known for, but lacking the investigation and trial system from the past games.
Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls expands on the story featured in the first two Danganronpa games. If you haven’t finished or played through the main games, you will be spoiled by the story because it directly links to the events from the past games. The story is set half years after the events of the first Danganronpa and before the events in Danganronpa 2. You play as Komaru Naegi, sister of Makoto Naegi, the main protagonist of the first Danganronpa. You will learn more about some of the story events featured in Danganronpa 1 as well as what happens before the events of the sequel. Komaru Naegi is joined by Toko Fukawa who fans might remember from the original Danganronpa. The main threat in Ultra Despair Girls is not an evil bear Monokuma but an army of crazy lunatics who call themselves ‘Warriors of Hope’.
The gameplay in Ultra Despair Girls is purely third person with a camera that is over the shoulder of the main protagonist while the mechanics closely match that of a third person shooter. The game retains its key stylish visuals so atleast it is something that is still kept by this spin-off. The story doesn’t really offer the same thrill and high stakes but it is serviceable and the game mostly acts as a fan-service for those who have played the previous two games. On its own, it is honestly a mediocre experience but if you are invested in the world of Danganronpa, this elevates the game somewhat from mediocre to good.
You play the game as a third person shooter with two different characters to control: Komaru Naegi and Toko Fukawa. You can use your special hacking gun for Komaru to control or destroy the army of evil Monokuma bears that are created to destroy humanity. These bears are controlled by the Warriors of Hope as you later come to know in the story and they serve as the main enemies in the game. They are pretty dull enemies and can be easily killed or controlled through the hacking gun. Toko Fukawa, meanwhile, has a different type of attack with her stun gun that lets you control her other personality, Genocide Jack. She adds some much needed change to the main gameplay loop.
If you are fan of the story elements, you will find plenty of it in this new game. The story segments are all well made giving the same ooze and style as the original games. This is what elevates the game from a standard adventure game to something that the Danganronpa fans can relate to. It features cameo appearances from some of the Danganronpa cast as well as everyone’s favorite Monokuma and his several different alterations like Kurokuma and Shirokuma.
There is also an upgrade based system that lets you gather Monokuma coins to upgrade the guns and abilities for the two main protagonists. You can get the coins from killing the evil Monokuma robots and the more you collect, the easier it is for you to unlock the abilities. The different gameplay experience offered by the two characters combined with the upgrade system is a welcome addition to the game. You will also learn new powers that can be used with the hacking gun to perform different actions on the Monokuma robots, e.g controlling them or making them paralyzed.
The game isn’t really that difficult if you just play on the normal difficulty setting while you have the option of multiple difficulty settings, there isn’t much of a replay value. You can get a slightly different outcome for the ending but there is essentially only one true ending to the game.
Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls was initially released for the PS Vita followed by a PC release. The PS4 version of the game is based on the PC version and features high resolution artwork and visuals compared to the PS Vita version. While the game looks nice in motion, some of the UI still feels low quality, however thankfully the artwork scales up well to the HD resolution.
Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls is an action-adventure video game developed by Spike Chunsoft for PlayStation Vita, PS4 and PC.
While not offering the same thrilling story and memorable cast of characters, Ultra Despair Girls is a fun spin-off based on the popular Danganronpa series that is somewhat held back by its gameplay.