DanganRonpa 2: Goodbye Despair is a Japanese game by Chunsoft that came out in July 2012 but came out on Steam as of April 18, 2016. Considering translating this graphic novel is essentially like translating 3 books, it only makes sense this $30.00 game would take so long.
So what is Dangass RonPaul 2? Well, DanganRonpa, translated to “winning an argument with a bullet,” is about a bunch of high school kids being trapped on an island and being forced to murder one another. This isn’t just another rip-off of the Hunger Games, however, as once a murder occurs, a class trial is held. If everyone votes for the killer, the killer is murdered in turn, but if they vote for the wrong guy, everyone but the killer is killed and they get to leave the island. Yeah, it’s tough to get much darker than that, and that’s what this game is all about: despair. They mention hope and despair so much I’d recommend you take a shot for each time it’s mentioned except you’d probably die, too.
The punishments issued to the murderer are always ironic to their special talent, as well as nearly impossible and nonsensical. And with stating this: please keep in mind, the game is Japanese. Things are going to get weird. Fast. Whether it’s the general humor, overly sexualized perverted jokes, Monokuma’s standup, references to Japanese culture, or how making a friend makes them give you their underwear, something is going to fly over your head or leave you weirded out. Your job at this point is to simply accept it.
Each student has unique characteristics along with a special talent, except for tall, dark, and boring; the main character. While playing as the stale end of a loaf of bread, you wander around the island until a murder happens, which by that time you’re shooting sentences, surfing in your brain, and trying to make sense of murder cases that make your fellow classmates look like classic Sherlock Holmes villains. Piecing together this information and coming to logical conclusions is fun at first, yet towards the end of the game everything becomes impossible, as the game expects you to provide evidence on one statement even though different evidence provides the same information. The weight of a column proves it and the body couldn’t be moved within 10 seconds, but no, let’s look at how the bloodstain didn’t move, that’s the real evidence.
True, this game might not a traditional game, it’s a collective of minigames and a Tamagotchi inside of a graphic novel. That being said, it’s a well done graphic novel. The art style, although anime-esque, is unique and will most likely age well, as everything is set up to look flat like a pop-up book or props on a stage play. The music enhances the moment at hand with styles, often electronic, that you could consider downloading on your own time. Merely disturbing moments often become haunting as you’re forced to make a comic about your friends being murdered to a beautiful, yet unsettling tone. The English voice acting is impressive, ignoring the “talent” that is Monomi’s voice actor. The writing, themes, and characters aren’t perfect, but they are close to it, worthy of being at the level of a mystery novel. The point is, some part of the game, a labor of love for artists of all kinds, is going to grab you and take you for a ride. For a game about despair, this game is full of heart.
Is the game worth $20? You bet your goddamn ass it is, I’ve bought disappointment for $60 and it doesn’t feel fun. The game is silly, ridiculous, and at times depressing. But you know what? It’s an experience, that’s what most graphic novels are and most of them suck so bad it’s impossible. Do yourself a favor and get the Ultimate Graphic Novel: DanganRonpa 2 as it redefines the visual genre into something gamers can look forward to.