Danganronpa 1.2 Reload review (PS4)

Danganronpa 1.2 bring two former Vita titles to the PS4 in one bundled package with updated visuals. How well do they fare on the PS4 after all these years?

I have to admit, I’m hopelessly out of order when it comes to the Danganronpa series of videogames. You’ll probably forgive me that I didn’t start out the initial Japanese release on the PSP, but when I started playing on the Vita my first Danganronpa game was Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls – actually the third game in the series. I enjoyed it a lot and bought the first two games on the Vita, but while playing them I learned that an updated version was coming to the PS4 and I decided to wait for that to arrive first. At last, the wait is over.

Included in Danganronpa 1.2 Reload are the first two games in the series: Trigger Happy Havoc and Goodbye Despair. And they’re great – even better than Ultra Despair Girls I would say. In Trigger Happy Havoc, you’re a high school student at Hope’s Peak Academy – a school for gifted youngsters. One day you find yourself in the school, locked in and part of a sadistic game – you’re to be held there for all of time unless you murder another student and get away with it.

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Getting away with it involves class trials, in which the surviving students try to figure out who the killer is. What unfolds is part murder mystery, part thriller – and it’s a wonderfully crafted story. Both of the games in this collection lean more towards the visual novel end of things than Ultra Despair Girls does, but the story quality is all the better for it. The same is true for Goodbye Despair, although that game shifts its backdrop to a tropical island paradise.

Another constant in the Danganronpa games are the Monokumas, sadistic teddy bears with a twisted sense of humor. I felt relieved to see how familiar these games and their characters felt after playing Ultra Despair Girls first, and can’t wait for the upcoming sequel later this year. Part of that is also due to the brilliant soundtrack and music that all Danganronpa games have. The music especially does a wonderful job of supporting the moods and plot twists that the game keeps throwing at you, and the melodies tend to get stuck in your head long after you finish playing.

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The port to the PS4 isn’t a straight up conversion – environments are now rendered in higher resolutions and the framerate has been improved as well. The stills feel like they’ve been ripped straight from the Vita version though, and while they look wonderful on the Vita’s small screen they feel a bit ‘low res’ on a giant television.

Would I recommend grabbing this collection if you’ve already played through the Vita games? Probably not, as they’re lengthy games and the surprises in the plot are best enjoyed the first time around. If you’re new to the franchise though, then this is a perfect starting point – especially if you don’t own a Vita. Whatever platform you play on though, you owe it to yourself to check out these games if you enjoy a good story-driven experience. Two of the best in the genre, and great value now that they’re bundled.

Score: 8.5/10

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