By: Uma Smith
The Danganronpa series is alive and kicking once again on the PlayStation Vita with Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls. This time though, we have “another episode” that is of a different approach than its predecessors with its linear third-person action story. It’s far from the usual gameplay, but will this lead its fans to…”ultra despair?”
Whether using the Vita’s buttons or touch screen, you get an intuitive and straightforward control scheme. Ultra Despair Girls uses both the left and right analog sticks for character movement and camera controls, respectively, while the d-pad allows you to change the type bullets you have equipped on a whim.
During action sequences, assignment of the aiming and firing of your weapons to the shoulder buttons make the game easy to control. There are also commands attached to each of the face buttons. Considering there are tutorials included in the game, you’ll find the controls very simple to figure out.
Visually, Danganronpa Another Episode looks pretty impressive at first glance. The character models have quite the degree of detail while the screen is filled with beautiful, crisp colors. However, upon closer examination, you can catch some jagged edges here and there. While the frame rate generally remains steady, there are occasions where you get a slight delay — though this will never hinder your gameplay.
As for the audio, you have remixed tracks from the two previous Danganronpa titles, which are a nice touch and sounds quite pleasant. They do vary in style depending on what is going on. As for the voice acting, they help bring out the emotion from the characters, thereby making the game that much more enjoyable.
In Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls, you assume the role of Komaru Naegi, a schoolgirl who has been locked away for several months. When she is finally released, she finds the city of Towa in ruins with its citizens killed off by a robot army that look like teddy bears. It turns out that a group of psychotic youths known as the “Warriors of Hope” are behind it as their objective is to kill all adults and create a utopia solely for children.
You will have some companions as you explore the city. There is Toko Fuwaka, who is the chief bookworm, serving as your main companion throughout the game. In addition, you have her alter ego, Genocide Jack, who has murderous intentions. The game will have you traveling in a linear path during your journey from one district to the next. You’ll be facing off against an army of these robotic bears as well as solving puzzles and earning upgrades to your characters.
Some players may find a downside here with the cut scenes, which seemingly come up about every five minutes and can run for 15. Although they do offer some good dialogue and help a lot with the story, it may be a turn-off for people that want to get into its action gameplay right away. The good news is that once you finally do, the third-person action is a whole bunch of fun.
You’ll enter environments that are mostly narrow pathways with enemies coming right towards you, and your only option is to take them out with your weapons. There are some elements of puzzles in this game in the sense that you’ll need to use your brain if you want to efficiently dispose of your enemies.
For instance, you can use the hacking gun that alters or even disables the behavior of your foes. On top of that, you’ll also come across some riddles to solve in order to progress. It’s a great balance between puzzles and action being implemented.
One word of warning is that newcomers to the series may be torn if they want to start with this title. Although Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls is a spin-off from the Danganronpa series, it contains spoilers for the previous two titles. As such, newbies may want to play those first if they want to get the full satisfaction from the story.
Players get a new form of “despair” with Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls as the game enters the realm of third-person action. It still has elements from the previous titles that keeps its charm and remains faithful to the series. And although the cut scenes can be somewhat of a drag to sit through, it does provide a lot of worthwhile content and “ultra” gameplay experience in the end