Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Nov 272020

One series I’d been intending to try for ages is Danganronpa. Murder mysteries, investigations and trials, it sounded like my sort of thing, but I never got around to it.

Well, one of this year’s Celebrating All Things Spooky contest winners chose a game for me to review as his prize, and he picked Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc.

In Danganronpa, you play a boy named Makoto who is selected to attend an elite school, but when he gets there, he finds himself trapped along with his classmates and forced to participate in a deadly game. They’re told that if anyone can successfully kill another student and get away with it, they will be allowed to leave. If not, they have to stay there forever.

Of course, it isn’t long before a student turns up dead.

Similar to games like Ace Attorney, Danganronpa is essentially a cross between a visual novel and an adventure game. There are long stretches of time that are solely story-driven, but at other points you’re set loose to explore and investigate.

Once you’ve gathered all the evidence for a case, the “class trial” begins. Unlike Ace Attorney, these trials involved much more action. Pieces of evidence become “bullets” that you shoot at contradictory statements while the text is on-screen. I’m not crazy about my ability to solve a case being dependent on my shooting skills, but the game gives you enough time that it isn’t too reliant on fast reflexes.

At other points you’ll have to shoot letters to spell out a key word to answer a question, and there are also rhythm game confrontations. Of everything, the rhythm game parts are the ones I liked the least, but I endured them.

(Fortunately, if you lose all of your health and get a game over, you can restart from right ahead of where you failed.)

In between each case, you get a few “free time” sections. These sections let you pick a character to spend time with and learn more about them, which also unlocks optional skills to help you in trials.

I liked the characters, and I enjoyed solving the cases (especially as they got crazier and more convoluted later in the game), but what I really loved the most was the overarching mystery. Why are they trapped at this school? Who is the mastermind behind Monokuma, the robotic bear overseeing the game (who fortunately isn’t as annoying as I feared, considering my general dislike of “cute” mascot characters)? What is really going on?

I loved thinking over every clue and developing theories about the overarching story. Sure, I predicted some things that weren’t revealed until the game was almost over, but it was still fun to watch them finally come to light.

Danganronpa also did a great job of building up an “anyone can die” atmosphere. By the second case, I was already looking at each character anxiously, wondering if one of my favorites would survive through to the next one or not. It made everything feel that much more suspenseful.

Aside from one particularly annoying point in a case that involved a drawn-out debate to prove something that could have been resolved with a single sentence, I had a great time playing Danganronpa. I’m not going to start the next one immediately, but I’m looking forward to playing the sequel when I finally do get there.

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  4 Responses to “I Finally Plunged Into the Suspenseful Mysteries of Danganronpa”

  1. Glad you finally played! This game is a real trip… the whole series is just crazy. I’m glad you didn’t find Monokuma annoying, and I think they did a good job of balancing out his annoying tendencies, though it is a very fine line.
    Also, the 10th anniversary was just this week, so great timing on finally playing it! I look forward to your thoughts on the later games when you get to them.

    • Well, I found him somewhat annoying at times, just not enough to really bug me. (Certainly not as much as that rabbit!)

      Yep, I actually finished on the anniversary itself, which was quite fitting. 🙂

  2. […] need to play the rest of the Dangranronpa series. So far, I’ve only played the first one and enjoyed it, so maybe I’ll get around to the rest before Engima Archives comes […]

  3. […] in 2020, I played Danganronpa and said I was looking forward to starting the sequel… although it took me over 2 years to […]

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