Back in 2015, I reviewed Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls, a third person shooter that spun off from the point and click adventure games that have been all the rage on the Vita. When I first played it, I adored its creative use of weapons, its creepy atmosphere, and its variety in enemies, with my biggest complaints centering on the camera issues. Having fewer buttons made handling all of the game’s tasks a bit awkward on the handheld, which ultimately held it back from being as great as it could have been. That all changed with the PS4 remaster releasing ahead of the much anticipated Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, allowing a wider audience to enjoy this quirky action title with a slew of improvements. After playing through it again on the big screen, it’s clear that Komaru benefited greatly from the jump to Sony’s home console.
Trapped in the devastated Towa City with an army of Monokuma robots out to kill anyone they can find, Komaru Naegi finds herself fighting off the machines with one of the first game’s survivors, (and part time serial killer), Toko Fukawa. In between them and their freedom are the Warriors of Hope, a group of children who are seemingly responsible for the chaos with ties to series antagonist, Junko Enoshima. Part horror movie and part coming of age drama, tying Komaru’s journey of a regular girl in a world of geniuses to the loose ends of the first two games is done masterfully, still serving as an entertaining backdrop to all of the chaos that surrounds you.
As a remaster, my thoughts haven’t changed much regarding the game as a whole compared to the Vita version. Considering how shooters haven’t advanced much since 2015, Ultra Despair Girls still feels incredibly fresh with its unique use of weapons for both combat and puzzle solving. Using your gun to hack, destroy enemy weak points, push Monokuma robots into water and forcing them to dance among other functions are still equal parts fun and hilarious. It’s always nice to see a dark game that manages to retain a sense of humor. Still, long cutscenes reminiscent of its text adventure roots tend to hurt the flow of the action while the game makes it hard to keep track of what you’re missing for all of those completionists out there. With the improvements made to the controls, the PS4 version makes an already easy game slightly easier, meaning it won’t last terribly long from a game play standpoint.
But there are some key improvements that make the game worth checking out a second time, as well as making it a can’t miss game for PS4 owners who never had a Vita to play the original on. As soon as the game gives you control of Komaru, it’s immediately noticeable how much smoother the game runs on the console. The frame rate has received a boost, making moving the camera and exploring Towa City a much more seamless experience. Komaru, the city itself and the enemy character models look much more vibrant this time around, taking advantage of the high definition boost the game received in the upgrade process. But what was probably the original’s most glaring flaw, its awkward controls when trying to both shoot and move, have been improved with the addition of extra shoulder buttons. Now, what was once a clunky, unintuitive movement method that asked the player to make concessions with comfort is much easier to play. Adopting the Resident Evil model of control is always going to come with a certain amount of clunkyness, but it’s minimized to the point where I barely noticed them during my time with the game. However, aiming is still annoyingly slow, which is by design since one of Komaru’s skills during upgrading is her aiming speed. Hey, we can’t win them all…
With Danganronpa 1+2 Reload and Ultra Despair Girls both on the PS4 and the Danganronpa 3 anime available on demand, there’s little reason to miss out on the entire saga before we dive back into this world in Danganronpa V3. But even without that extra incentive, Ultra Despair Girls is a worthy action title that’s worth checking out. Whether its your first time or your next of many trips to Towa City, the game’s small annoyances can’t take away from this creepy, funny, incredibly dark but never dull shooter that always manages to keep things interesting. Whether you consider yourself an Ultimate Gamer or a regular old player, you’d do well to check this game out and see what all the fuss is about. Who knows? Maybe you’ll jump on the V3 hype train with us in the process!