NOTE: While I try to avoid spoilers whenever possible, this review will contain some EXTREMELY light spoilers for Danganronpa 2. Viewer discretion is advised!
What can I say? Steam sells Danganronpa 1 and 2 in a pack for 10% off so… deal hunter that I am, I picked up both at once. So here’s my take on the 2nd in this bizarre Japanese series.
Pretty much across the board, Danganronpa 2’s mechanics are improved from the first game. Mini-games are (for the most part) better, the awkward first-person navigation of the first game is replaced by a sleek side-scrolling mechanic and while it’s still pretty formulaic, it’s less so than before.
That being said, the upgraded mechanics still can’t surpass the overwhelming feeling of sequel-itis that permeates through this game. You may be on a tropical island this time, but you are still going through free time, increasing your social lin- err… hope fragments… waiting until another kid dies so you can investigate and go through the trials and unlock more of the game world.
You may have a different/improved cast of characters this time around as well as an extremely obnoxious second mascot character to go along with Monokuma but it all feels very much the same. Trials are harder this time around, a welcome change, but they don’t feel all that unique. There’s even a plot point about 3/4ths of the way through the game where a character even points out how the trials so far have had similarities to the trials from the first game. To make matters worse, this plot thread doesn’t actually go anywhere so it feels like the game is just slamming it in your face that you’re playing through the same game again.
Don’t get me wrong here, Danganronpa 2 isn’t a bad game. Far from it, it actually executes the base mechanics much better than the first and the crimes are more fun to solve because of it. It’s just sad that they didn’t do this well the first time when the idea felt fresh and original.
As for the plot, you play as Hajime Hinata as you enter a classroom in what appears to be Hope’s Peak Academy, the setting of the first game. You meet up with your 15 fellow murder buddies and then find out that you’re actually on a tropical island! Yay! A pink rabbit thing called Usami says you all have to become friends and then you can go home.
Big, shocking plot twist though, Monokuma shows up and busts everything up. Bring on the killing game and we’ve got Danganronpa 2. While it’s kind of odd that everyone feels such a strong need to escape from a tropical paradise, the characterization in general has undergone a huge upgrade from the first game. Several characters were boring or even annoying at times, but several characters I actually grew to really care about. One in particular who died later in the game made me actually stop and wonder if this was how the rest of the cases had been trying to make me feel. Perhaps that’s saying that the previous cases had all failed but I still thought the emotional reaction was pretty effective, in my case.
Along with the characters, the mystery of the game is even stronger than the first. Veterans of the first game will immediately recognize that one of your many classmates is actually one of the survivors from the first game however, he looks much different than before and doesn’t seem to remember that all of this has already happened. It’s a strange disconnect that will make you wonder how this game relates to the first one. Worry not, there weren’t any major plot threads left dangling that I noticed.
While I figured out many of the mysteries prior to the end of the game, the discovery still felt satisfying and there were still enough secrets to last through the end of the game in my playthrough.
If Danganronpa 1 left you wanting more, 2 is a marked improvement but if you’ve had enough killing games for one lifetime, Danganronpa 2 won’t change your mind.