Welcome to the Killing School Trip!
The events of this game take place after Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Danganronpa: Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls. Both games are referenced and connected to this title, even though this was technically the 2nd game to release. To get the most of and to best understand this game’s story, playing the first installment of this series is the best option. This game does deal with some mature content that maybe uncomfortable to some individuals.
The story of the game takes a slow start. It is almost misleading, as it sets up for a trip of bonding between the cast of 16 characters, including the new protagonist Hajime. The new bunny mascot character, Usami, promotes hope and peace. Each bonding experience yields Hope Fragments. That is, until Monokuma’s big arrival. He takes over, and the trip then becomes about murder, survival, and despair!
It takes a structure like that of the first installment of the series, but with a new cast and new location. Rather than being confined into a school, the characters have freedom to travel across a set of tropical islands connected by bridges. I was not a huge fan of this systematic “open environment”. The amount of locations is greatly expanded, but the game is still linear. So now it will take longer to get from Point A to Point B. The two methods to ease this are: the fast travel from the map or the directional pad that would cause auto running to the next location that could be entered. As locations were unlocked, they were often only important for the single chapter, making the variety feel even more pointless.
As for the cast, they are a group of not entirely fresh faces. Some of the designs of the new characters blended in too well with what I knew and remembered of the first cast. This ended up making characters from the new cast less memorable. Not just the designs of the characters, but even some of the personalities types were similar, making them more of a clone than an original addition.
As mentioned before, the game play is similar to the first. Each murder will need to be solved to survive. After gathering all the evidence, the trials will begin. In the first trial alone, a lot of the different mini-games of the trials are thrown at you. This makes it all more important to play the first game. That way there is some understanding of what is about to happen. Before any trial begins, there is a chance to buy abilities that can help and review the evidence. Abilities are acquired by going to Monomi through the Handbook and purchasing skills with Hope Fragments. And do not feel the need to memorize the evidence or write it down. During the trial, by pressing Square, it will pause the trial and give the list of evidence.
The simple mini-game you first discover is Non-Stop Debate. This one shows up the most and is usually the most present in the trials where a topic will be discussed and argued. To get through this section, Hajime must figure out the correct Truth Bullet that will shatter the yellow lines of dialogue that is false. Or for this installment, there are also blue lines that, rather than refuting their statement, you will agree with. Added to this section will be the white noise that will need to be cleared for the Truth Bullet to reach its target.
Next is the Hangman’s Gambit. This title made some annoying changes to the previous system. Rather than letters floating into the screen, they will come from the sides: left, right, up and down. Moving letters will need to be matched with a like letter before they can be added to the word or phrase. If two letters that do not match connect, then they will burst and cause damage. This means that even if you know the answer, you still might not get out of this section unscathed.
Panic Talk Action, or PTA, replaces the previous Bullet Time Battle. Still, the work of it is similar. This is a rhythm based section that, by going with the timing, will break through the opposing character’s shields. Once the shields are broken down, words or fragments of words will be marked on the screen, each connected with one of the 4 buttons: Triangle, Square, Circle, and X. Pressing buttons in the correct order to get the proper combination of words will end this sequence.
The Closing Argument makes a return, too. The object is to fill the missing panels on a comic book strip system of pages depicting the current investigated murder. Something to note during this phase is to hover over the bottom empty space to get a hint on what the image will need to be. Another thing to look for in this sequence is if any of the images given are already in panels – it is then easy to tell that they will not be the ones you need. The images are given in sets, and once all the usable ones are placed, the next set will appear.
There are 2 new additions to the trials: Rebuttal Showdown and Logic Dive. The Rebuttal Showdown is a one on one argument. The Truth Bullets are now a sword. The argument is set into phases. The opponent’s white argument statements will need to be cut through. When the yellow statement appears, using the correct Truth Sword will cut through their argument, literally.
Logic Dive is like snowboarding. You’ll control Hajime down the path that will eventually split with the answers to a question. Choosing the correct answer and path will take Hajime to the next question. If the wrong path is chosen, it will cut off and transport Hajime back to choose the correct path. There will be obstacles in between questions that will need to be navigated to move forward as well.
In the first 4 cases, there was always at least one element that stood out as odd or overly complex to me, like a motive that cannot be determined unless you play the mini-game and unlock the true ending of that mini-game. Even some of the case arguments I ended up having to do trial and error to find the correct rebuttal. It was this area that started to make me more frustrated and even made me bored with the game. I had a lot of interest in the mystery and piecing together the evidence, but even when I knew the right answer there was no clear statement to address it with.
Even elements of the story started to feel over the top and out of place. While the original game and story were already an odd and unusual tale, this game dials it up even more. The game ends up feeling more random than it needs to be. Even some of the character relationships seem to come out of nowhere with bonds that were never present before. The final trials feel the closest to the first in terms of being logical and making sense. It even gives some reasoning to the ludicrousness of previous events. Still sprinkled with some of the added over the top quality that this game had, those chapters still played out the best in my opinion. I just wish that tone had occurred sooner to make me more invested in the ending.