With the release of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony right around the corner, Danganronpa 1•2 Reload is here to introduce a new batch of people to Hope’s Peak Academy. Whether you are new to visual novels or to the Danganronpa series, Danganronpa 1•2 Reload is the perfect place to start.
Included in the collection are Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair. Each game released previously on PSVita and PC (they both released on PSP in Japan) but this is their first time on PS4.
In Trigger Happy Havoc you take the role of Makoto Naegi, a high school student who wins a nationwide draw to attend classes at Hope’s Peak Academy, a high school of elite students who are the “Ultimate” of whatever their field is. Upon arriving, Makoto and his fellow classmates pass out and awake to find they are unable to escape. They are presented with their only means of escape, kill another one of their classmates and get away with it.
Goodbye Despair picks up with a new student, Hajime Hinata, as well as a new class as they travel on a class trip to a tropical island. Little do they know that once again they are thrust into a new killing game by Monokuma. Their only escape, you guessed it! Kill one of your classmates and you are able to escape the island.
The gameplay in both included Danganronpa titles is a mixture of a visual novel (think Zero Escape) and court simulation (think Pheonix Wright). Each game consists of 6 chapters that are broken down into 4 phases. During the “Daily Life” phase, the story is told to you through text similar to other visual novels. During the next phase, “Free Time”, you are able to explore your surroundings at will as well as hunt for collectables. It’s also during “Free Time” that you are able to deepen your relationships with your fellow classmates and learn more about them. Be careful who you get to know though, as the unpredictability of the narrative could mean they could be the next victim or murderer.
When a murder victim is discovered, the game shifts to “Investigate” mode, where you are tasked with tracking down all of the clues needed for the final phase, “Class Trials”. You’ll investigate the crime scene as well as search other areas for clues by examining any objects to obtain “truth bullets”, which act as your evidence. Class Trials have you debating the facts of the crime against your fellow classmates while you use truth bullets to piece together the details of the crime, with each game having it’s own modes for progressing the trial.
Like a good book, one aspect that both Danganronpa games absolutely nail is their pacing. The slower pace during the daily life sections builds up the suspense while the Class Trials move the story at a quick pace in order to build the tension as you get closer to uncovering the truth. Many times over the course of my previous playthroughs and during this review I found myself glued to my television as time flew by. Even if this was my 3rd playthrough of each of these games, I still consistently found myself invested in the story and on the edge of my seat.
If there is one thing Danganronpa 1•2 Reload is not lacking, it’s content! Trigger Happy Havoc alone takes roughly 20-30 hours to complete the main game while Goodbye Despair takes 30-40 hours to complete. Add in Monokuma plushies to find and the ability to raise your own Tamagotchi-esque pet in Goodbye Despair as well as maximizing report cards, unlocking the gallery options, music tracks and cinematics and you have a tonne of things to do across both titles. Factor in the price of $39.99 USD and you have yourself one impressive package.
The writing across both games is top notch as well! Each student has their own unique personality traits that make them stand out from the rest and are all likable. Monokuma is a standout, as he takes every advantage to be adorable, while also being a terrifying villain at the same time. The localization team is also to be commended as the translation is well done and isn’t trying to change too much of what makes these games special.
One of the Danganronpa series’ greatest assets is its character designs and art. The hand drawn character designs from Rui Komatsuzaki blend well with the pre-rendered backgrounds and really pop on the PS4 version. While this is consistent with the previous releases on PC and Vita, for some reason playing on PS4 on my television felt special. Everything looks quite clean and with the exception of a few textures, the look overall looks just as good, if not better than when I first played it on Vita.
When you are free-roaming in the environments, the control scheme is almost identical to the Vita version, except the main difference this time around is there are no touch controls. Even lacking touch controls, the PS4 version still controls great. The only issue I ran into was that you are still unable to invert the vertical camera, though that isn’t a deal breaker, especially since it isn’t used too often and this was also true about previous versions.
The audio in both games is well done across both titles; each having excellent voice acting, sound effects and music. Whether it’s Monokuma’s signature laugh, Kyoko’s stern voice or Nagito’s crazy speeches about hope, each of the characters are well voiced both on the English and Japanese sides. Like other visual novels, as text plays out, different sound effects play and while some of them repeat throughout the story, they do a great job of immersing you. Further enhancing the audio is Masafumi Takada’s amazing soundtrack across both games. The soundtrack really adds to the game’s atmosphere and is great to listen to even outside of the game.
As far as what’s new in this collection, there aren’t really any new features or modes. While people who have the game on other platforms may be disappointed by this, there is still a tonne of game in this collection. The trophy list has been condensed into a singular list resulting in the game having a single platinum trophy across both games.
As far as game collections go, Danganronpa 1•2 Reload is a fantastic package. While it doesn’t necessarily bring new options or features to the table after it’s PC release, the value of this package is undeniable, especially at the collection’s low price tag. If you’re new to visual novels or to the Danganronpa series, this is the definitive place to start! This collection is well worth the price of admission and is overflowing with content. I can’t recommend this collection enough!
NIS America provided a PS4 copy of Danganronpa 1•2 Reload for review.