E3 2014: More Murderific Intrigue With Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair

Back to the island.

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Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair
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While seated in a meeting room getting the lowdown on Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, the representative pointed toward a poster containing every character in the game. I recognized a few of them from the original game, though most of the faces didn't look familiar. He gestured toward the right corner and said, “There's Byakuya down there.” I pointed toward a boy with a crew cut who didn't have the menacing look of that rich elitist, but it was plausible that he had changed in the time between games. “No, not him,” the representative said. “The fat one next to him.” I did a double take. Byakuya sure gained a lot of weight! And of everything that I learned about the sequel to one of my favorite games so far this year, it's that tidbit that makes me most excited. What has happened to Byakuya in the last year? And how have the other characters changed after the traumatic events from Danganronpa?

Danganronpa contains characters who are the ultimate at something in life. In Danganronpa 2, there's a character who's the ultimate breeder (and carries hamsters around to prove how good he is at animal husbandry), the ultimate mechanic (and I can't even change my own oil), and the ultimate princess (something we can all strive to be). These characters and others are part of a class who are lucky enough to have a teacher willing to take them on an island vacation. That's way better than the teachers I had growing up. Needless to say, Monokuma is waiting for them there (for some reason), and so begins another game of life or death. Or rather, life and death.

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It sounds like a grim concept, kids killing kids and all that, but it's somehow able to inject levity into the tragic events. One non sequitur I saw had the main character remark, while looking at a cow, that it's hard to believe the animal used to be a chicken. Taken out of context, it's completely absurd. But within the confines of the story, I'm sure it will make weird sense. Maybe. It might just always be an absurd aside, who knows?

The structure is unchanged from Trigger Happy Havoc. There's time for exploration where you discover various oddities on the island, moments where you build your relationships with your still-living friends, and then courtroom battles to decide who perpetrated the most heinous of crimes. In the first game, everything was viewed from a first-person perspective while you roamed through the school's halls. Here, you're placed in a 2D landscape and move like it's a platformer. It's a small change, but one that better places your character in context of the setting he's in.

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The courtroom battles have a few twists as well. Your argument can now be countered, so instead of everyone waiting for you to deliver the final word, they'll provide resistance until you prove the truth. Dive logic is a new mode within the trials that, I'm told (because I didn't see it for myself), bears a passing resemblance to Rez. Now, that's high praise considering Rez HD is one of my favorite games ever. I probably shouldn't expect anything at that level. I do know that you cruise into the screen on a skateboard while picking up evidence, but we'll see if it's as good as its inspiration. Fingers crossed!

At the end of the demonstration, I was given a goodie bag, which is a frequent occurrence at E3. I pile every shirt, figurine, and poster I get into a giant box that we give to our users later on. But there's one nugget that I'm keeping for myself. The developers handed me a review build of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, so I can start playing, well, as soon as I finish this preview. Sadly, I won't be able to share my thoughts for a few more months, but I'm super excited to see what the game has in store for me. I love visual novels, so I'm chomping at the bit to put this cart in my Vita.

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