Before you begin to read this review, I highly suggest you have prior knowledge of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair. The majority of the Danganronpa Another Episode has references to both of the previous games leading deep into spoiler territory. If you do not heed my warning then I can only hope you do not become the new Ultimate Despair and I take no responsibility for your actions and possibly bringing ruin to mankind.
Danganronpa Another Episode takes place a year and a half after the most horrible tragedy in the history of mankind as well as a few months after the events of the first Danganronpa. You are introduced to the new protagonist known as Komaru Naegi who is the younger sister of Makoto Naegi from the first game. Unlike Makoto, who is known as the Ultimate Lucky Student, Komaru is just a normal girl that was living a normal life until “The Tragedy” occurred and she ended up being a prisoner in an apartment for over a year. Komaru is rescued by Byakuya Togami and given a megaphone-shaped hacking device and told to escape to the city. Before Komaru can escape, she witnesses the town being invaded by Monokumas and ends up getting captured once again, but this time by children calling themselves the Warriors of Hope. This group consists of five students from Hope’s Peak Academy Elementary known as the Li’l Ultimates. The Warriors of Hope are the ones controlling the Monokumas destroying the city and have been attacking all the adults as well as playing a small game of Demon Hunting with select individuals by attaching tracking bracelets to them then hunting them down. Komaru is the newest target for the Warriors of Hope to hunt.
Unlike the previous games that relied on first-person viewing to investigate areas and visual novel storytelling, Another Episode gets rid of the investigation aspect and replaces it with third-person shooting and reduces the visual novel aspect with the addition of animated cutscenes. The graphics have also been changed by modifying the cardboard cutout style of the previous games’ environments and characters. Characters you encounter will no longer have a flat design but be fully rendered models. Buildings will have similar construction to how they appeared in the previous games but with visual updates. A lot of the plot is still done in the style of a visual novel with about 85% of the dialogue being voice-acted. Unfortunately, the pacing between gameplay and story is really bad for the first chapter, but as the game went on, I found myself forgetting about the pacing and being more engrossed in the story.
Truth Bullets are a staple of the Danganronpa series that have been used as a way to present evidence or correcting statements in past games, but in Another Episode Truth Bullets are ammo used for your Megaphone Hacking Gun. The Megaphone Hacking Gun uses eight types of ammo with different functions to help destroy Monokumas, uncover secrets, activate various machines, and even control Monokumas at some point. Some types of ammo can be further customized with bullet bling to add to the ammo count and strength of the bullets.
To keep the feel of solving mysteries from the previous games, you will now encounter puzzles and riddles that must be solved in order to move forward since solving a murder is no longer an option. The riddles are simple challenges that can easily be skipped in most cases but are rewarding if solved. Puzzle rooms are easily recognized by special double doors that lead to a room with red curtains and a Pac-Man style arcade cabinet called MoNoKu-Man. Using one of your special Truth Bullets on the arcade cabinet will give you an overhead view of the next room and the objective as well as what bullets you are allowed to use. The majority of the puzzles can be as simple as destroying all the Monokumas under specific conditions. If you make a mistake you can still progress normally by destroying the Monokumas or you can use the reload option to retry the puzzle. I ended up encountering several puzzles in the later parts of the game that had simple solutions but I could not get credit for the objective for unknown reasons. After about an hour messing around with the problem puzzles I managed to achieve the goal and I believe the solution may be scripted to a specific order of events.
Komaru, the main character in this game, is constantly looking down on herself and wanting to be free of the tragedy that is after her. Komaru realizes she is not her brother but she slowly learns to handle the situations in her own way that may or may not be enough to handle the Warriors of Hope.Toko Fukawa, whom fans may remember from the first game, returns to help Komaru escape Towa City and she has learned to sort of control her split personality problem known as Genocide Jack (Jill). Toko uses a stun gun to temporarily bring out Jill who wields sharp scissors with deadly precision that can quickly decapitate any Monokumas that stand her in way. Jill is extremely handy with her melee attacks and while she cannot take damage, her usefulness is limited to the battery power for the stun gun, meaning you should save her for emergency situations. Unlike the previous game Toko appeared in, she develops into a more interesting character along with Komaru which leads to entertaining banter between the two.
Danganronpa Another Episode does a great job bridging the gap between the first two games. The concept of going from pure visual novel with first-person investigation elements to third-person action with visual novel elements worked really well for a Danganronpa game. The idea of taking Truth Bullets from the class trials to actual ammo for a megaphone weapon is a interesting idea that I would love to see expanded on if another game is made like this for the series. The puzzles and riddles could use a bit of work but were fun when they could be solved properly. I would honestly have liked to see more done with previous characters returning in some way or another but what is seen was very interesting. It was really great seeing Toko go from this horribly judgemental person to someone you can feel empathetic towards and even like having around. I really enjoyed getting to see Komaru as a main character since she is not considered a strong character like her brother and everything about her is relatively normal. I highly recommend this game for anyone that is a fan of the Danganronpa series and to anyone who is curious about the series to start with the first two games and keep in mind that all three games are Playstation TV compatible. Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls is set to release on September 1st in North America and September 4th in Europe.