Almost ten years after its PSP debut, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair is making its debut on the Switch. The first thing you may notice about Danganronpa 2 is its writing. The humor is so reminiscent of youth. It’s tongue-in-cheek and just a bit too self-aware. You also get a full cast of your typical characters: the busty teen with a slight attitude and plenty of confidence, a round-faced pervert, and the one guy who is the perfectly friendly blank slate. Initially, Danganronpa 2 did not feel like the game for me. The way it pokes fun at fanservice (while still providing it) is a little too bold, and the highly sexualized jokes about teenagers did not hit for me. Luckily, its investigation and trial systems stand the test of time.
For those unfamiliar, Danganronpa 2 opens with the protagonist Hajime Hinata discussing the school of his dreams. Hope’s Peak Academy is where students go when they are the best of the best. From the child of a Yakuza to an Ultimate Gamer, these kids are the creme de la creme.
Unfortunately, our hero can’t quite figure out where he belongs in this school. Things only get worse once he and his classmates find themselves stranded on an island with no memories. Things go from bad to worse when a trip about friendship becomes a fight to the finish. In order to get off the island, people need to be killed. But you can build friendships and improve relationships as well. This is a visual novel after all.
Like I mentioned, I had a hard time finding the good in Danganronpa 2. A lot of the humor that the series is known for no longer suits my tastes as much as it might have when the games first came out. Luckily (for me at least) after a few hours of gameplay, the first murder happens and the real fun begins. That’s when Danganronpa 2 kicks into gear on the Switch.
Honestly, the trial mechanics in the game go above and beyond. They have a lot of moving pieces. There’s a system that never stops. Literally. You’re given a timer and have to find the lies and misinformation during a set time, and then work hard to defend your point within another short timeframe. I found myself incredibly lost during those first moments, but the change in pace was very welcome.
Despite my constant mistakes and pervasive feeling of inadequacy, I at least knew what I was meant to do. The game is very kind with instructions, and you can pause the trial to check controls or give yourself a very much needed breather. Danganronpa 2 throws a lot at you. From truth bullets and swords, the game requires you to be constantly alert as you interact with it. Having constant animations and music and moving dialogue so suddenly in a 2D visual novel was a lot, but I sure did enjoy it.
I don’t believe I’ll ever fall in love with all of Danganronpa, but I enjoyed how timeless Danganronpa 2’s investigation and trial mechanics work. The writing is incredibly smart, despite feeling dated and childish. Regardless, after a decade, I’m happy to report that Danganronpa 2 is still the same wild and unexpected murder mystery visual novel on the Switch.
Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair releases on the Switch either separately or in the Danganronpa Decadence bundle on December 3, 2021.
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