Monday, June 26, 2017

Danganronpa Another Story: Ultra Despair Girls (PS4)

For this review I'm going to mainly stick to the pros and cons of the PS4 port while going over in minor detail the direction of the story, and how it relates to the happenings of the first Danganronpa game. No spoilers though, and no mechanics breakdowns outside of what is new. If you want to catch up on the full scope of the game be sure to check out this link to my PS Vita review of the same game (https://thegaminginferno.blogspot.com/2015/08/danganronpa-another-episode-ultra.html) ...

Ultra Despair Girls is a series diversion that changes up almost completely Spike Chunsoft's initial investigation driven vision of the goings on at Hope's Peak Academy, and the murderous intent behind it's very existence. In doing so this sequel of sorts becomes something else entirely. It does away with the old judge, jury, and execution formula to bring into light ultimate despair in the form of an action oriented fight for survival. That very fight for survival involving the aftermath of a world plunged into global destruction, and chaos as a result of Hope Peak's ultimate program. In retrospect it's a catastrophic event climax that doesn't seem all that impossible in the real world that you, and I both currently live in considering the similar upheaval of social values we are all seeing to this date. Outside of the existence of Monokuma, and the antagonists of course ...

When it comes to plot points the protagonist this time around is surprisingly a character thought to have been killed off in the first game outside of the view of Hope Peak's student body predicament. That character being Makoto Naegi's sister, Komura Naegi. When the game opens up we are given the first of several lengthy anime cutscenes where Komura's involvement in the whole Monokuma mess is explained away. It seems after Makoto's disappearance Komura was abducted, and imprisoned at a Towa City facility. Towa City being one of the only clean air cities left on the planet. A sort of safe haven for survivors of the apocalyptic fallout of society. In the most awful way possible Komura finds out the status of the world outside of her prison, and through a tumble into the metaphorical rabbit hole she begins to see how hopeless things really are. Along the way she meets up with her newly discovered saviors the Freedom Foundation as well as the the childish antagonists that are the Heroes of Hope, and her unexpected partner Toko Fukawa who happens to have been the infamous serial killer Genocide Jack from the first Danganronpa.

Needless to say the prologue setup has return players digesting a lot of new info while following closely Komura's desperate fight to stay alive. Once she teams up with Toko after meeting up with the Heroes of Hope, Komura uses the partnership to ultimately undo the deep seeded plot set into motion by some other hidden individuals of interest. The fight this time is more physical, and action oriented with both Komura, and Toko using their special skills to fight off those who are hunting them down.

As far as said "skills"go Komura is gifted a hacking gun early on which fires various types of bullets. These enable her to combat the Monokuma robots, and interact with different environmental devices in order to reach the next chapter through embedded completion requirements. One thing I noticed during my playthrough is that using the hacking gun in this particular version of the game actually feels slightly smoother than it did on the PS Vita in that you have the option to make the camera auto-follow Komura, or to set it to manual so that you can more precisely control it through the right thumbstick. Switching between bullets also seems more easily done in that you can quickly swap between them directly using the DPad, or pre-select it before approaching an enemy or object by pressing "SQUARE", and highlighting/selecting with the DPad inputs. I will say that while the auto-camera makes staying on target easier you will find that at times the snappy nature of it can make targeting enemies on the fly a little difficult. In the manual sense the camera focus trails behind as it's movement is separate from the characters left thumbstick movement. Thus once again unnecessarily complicating something that could have been assigned to a single thumbstick. As you progress you will unlock new hacking gun skills, and will be able to apply different bullet types to enhance the performance of the new weapon/tool that is the hacking gun. Let me not forget that to use the hacking gun you first have to aim with "L2", and then fire with "R2".

Controlling the homicidal companion that is Toko/Genocide Jack also comes with a set of limited, but effectively aggressive perks. Unlike Komura's unlimited supply of ammo her Genocide attacks rely completely on a stun gun battery meter. Once she's triggered by pressing "TRIANGLE" while in control of Komura she will become playable for a short while. Her basic slash attack is done with "SQUARE" while her evasion move is done with "CIRCLE". Holding down "SQUARE" will also release a more powerful slash attack. Along with these basic tools of destruction Genocide Jack can also activate an ultimate attack by pressing "TRIANGLE"or "X" when her scissors meter is filled. To fill this meter up you basically have to kill Monokumas. Once Genocide Jack's stun gun battery runs out you will return to playing as Komura with her hacking gun. Thankfully battery power-ups do drop from downed Monokumas, so you won't be without Genocide Jack for too long.

The combat scenarios in Ultra Despair Girls include a mixture of fights against Monokuma bots as well as bosses that harbor weak spots. The bosses, in particular are controlled by the child antagonists known as the, "Heroes of Hope", and come into play as certain parts of the story open up. Along with the combat comes some puzzle solving, and sleuthing which is done in the less busy portions of the game. The puzzles include a sort of stealth show in which you'll have to navigate carefully through a room while efficiently dispatching any Monokumas lying in wait. As usual progress, as a whole is chapter based with each chapter containing an accompanying title, and plot direction.

The presentation ...

Visually, Ultra Despair Girls on the PS4 is a step up from it's former PS Vita version, in a minor sense. The presentation as a whole seems like less of a direct port, and more like it was molded to fit the PS4 format. The anime cutscenes are full screen as are the short lived CG scenes that drop you into the gameplay. The controls, and menu navigation which are the core of the interactive part of the game seem simple and easy to use. My only complaint, if any is that the camera controls are made more complicated than they should have been, and are messy at times. When in control of Genocide Jack this is glaringly obvious as the camera that follows cannot keep up with her actions, especially when set to Auto. Thus making for a frustrating fight. There is a way around it though, and this is to set the camera to manual, or equip the special item that helps to focus on enemies.

If you are wondering about the soundtrack it is the high quality that you'd expect from a NISA and Spike Chunsoft game, and is the same soundtrack that was included in the original PS Vita game. It also comes complete with English, and Japanese voice-over options that you can change at the start. I should also mention that you can select your preferred difficulty from the start as well. This includes "Genocide Mode (Easy)", "Komura Mode (Normal)", and "Despair Mode (Hard)". The first two are available during your initial playthrough, but "Despair Mode" must be unlocked through a full playthrough.

The verdict ...

Despite the continued camera functionality issues, and awkwardness thereof Ultra Despair Girls on the PS4 does seem more inviting on the PS4. In fact if I had to choose a version I'd probably pick the PS4 version of the game. It's seems more polished, if slightly so, and looks quite impressive on the big screen. The only time I wouldn't recommend it is if you have not played the first game. This isn't really one of those standalone experiences. It references a lot of the previous games' story elements, so prior knowledge does play heavily into what is going on. At the same time though it does kind of use flashbacks, and files to catch you up on things. If you can I'd say play the first Danganronpa, and then do this one. It'll make more sense that way. Ultra Despair girls will be released on the 27th of June, and will cost you an affordable $29.99 for a physical or digital copy. For the price, and the plot Ultra Despair Girls scrapes by with a "bear" minimum recommendation from yours truly.

1 comment:

  1. how do you change the voice to japanese

    ReplyDelete

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