Danganronpa has quite a bit of history considering its rise to popularity once it was localized, to how it achieved a cult status after originally releasing as an exclusive in Japan. The game was praised for its thrilling story full of twists and the use of Ace Attorney styled investigation and trial system that allowed the players to present evidence and facts to find the real culprit behind the scenes.
Danganronpa 1-2 Reload is a re-release of the first two Danganronpa games for the PS4. This is also the first time the series has made its way to the PS4 ahead of the launch of Danganronpa 3. This re-release is neither a remaster, nor a remake, as confirmed by NISA. It is a simple port of the original two games that were localized and released for the PS Vita. In that sense, there is not much of improvement here aside from higher resolution and the fact that this combines the two games into one package.
If you have never played any of the past Danganronpa games then you are in for a treat because the first experience with these games is memorable and will be remembered for a long time. Unfortunately since I have already played these games, all the twists and surprises were spoiled for me, nevertheless, it was great to visit Hope Peak’s academy again on the bigger screen and having to revisit some of the familiar scenarios and classic characters revoked some nostalgic memories.
Danganronpa is a murder mystery at its core but it is supplemented by a writing that not only adds humor but creates a sense of tension during some of the key moments. The best part of the game is arguably its great support cast that slowly begins to grow to the players. There are more than enough characters here that throughout the course of the games, we will have a couple of favorites and personally speaking, getting attached to a character makes the experience more memorable as we are now more invested in what happens with them.
The game’s story is set in a school called Hope’s Peak Academy which features the titular character, Monokuma. This half white and half black mechanical bear is the main character that makes or breaks the game. He also has a mystery behind it that will take the players through a journey full of surprising twists and betrayals. Describing the story of the game is hard without spoiling some of the key moments however it is important to mention that while the entirety of the first game is set in a single location, which is the academy, it slowly begins to open up as we progress leading to more locations to explore.
While Danganronpa 1 is entirely set in the Hope’s Peak Academy, the developers have changed things a bit with the release of Danganronpa 2, which takes place on a remote island at an unknown location. The story premise for Danganronpa 2 remains the same with the return of some fan favorite characters. Monokuma also gets a sidekick with a female version of Monokuma called Monomi. These two characters attempt to spice things up a little so that the game doesn’t feel repetitive after playing the original.
The gameplay loop in Danganronpa is fairly simple where the first half deals with the introduction to the characters and making sure players have the chance to establish relationship with their favorite characters until a murder occurs. Murdering someone and getting away with it is the basic story premise in Danganronpa as the characters are trapped in a world where they can’t escape until they kill someone and manage to get away with it. So on the basis of this, any character is usually murdered in a brutal fashion and the player is left alone to discover the truth behind their murder, making sure to catch the culprit.
This leads to the second gameplay loop which involves investigation in a court system. The player has to present the facts and evidence he has gathered to help locate the real killer and this is perhaps the most fun part of the whole game. It might get repetitive the second time around leaving not much for the replay value, but there is no denying the fact that playing all the trials the first time is a memorable experience for the player. Once the culprit is caught, it gets punished in an absolutely brutal way that makes for some cheesy but gory moments although it is still strictly animated violence, but some of the deaths were indeed disturbing to me.
Danganronpa 1-2 Reload is one of the finest visual novels released in the current generation. It is also helped by some great localization and while the game slowly gets predictable and repetitive as time passes, the fun factor remains the same, which makes it an enjoyable experience overall.
Danganronpa 1-2 Reload Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Danganronpa 1.2 Reload is a combination of the first and second game for release on the PS Vita, along with new features. NIS America will publish the game in March 12, 2017 in North America and Europe for PlayStation 4 with a deluxe edition and the regular one.
Danganronpa 1-2 Reload is the perfect visual novel to play if you like murder mysteries. It has surprisingly great writing for a visual novel originated in Japan and it is a must play for fans of the genre.