Hope’s Peak academy is a cherished dream for most people. An illustrious institution responsible for nothing less than nurturing those destined to become the hope of all mankind. Anyone would be honored to attend, and most students have worked and sacrificed their entire lives for the chance. After all, nothing but the very best are accepted at Hope’s Peak. But this is still a high school and even ultimate high school students need a break once in a while. With that in mind, Hajime and 15 of his classmates are going to be spending the next few weeks relaxing and enjoying the sun in the beautiful resorts of Jabberwock island. Sure, the ride over was a little bumpy and has resulted in a bit of amnesia here and there but it’s going to be nothing but smooth sailing from here on out!
When I reviewed the first game, I mentioned that I managed to go in almost entirely blind. I’m really very happy about this, I believe that it truly heightened the experience. I started Goodbye Despair the second I finished Trigger Happy Havoc. By now, I was obviously very familiar with the concept and tropes of the first game, but I had no idea about any of the particularities of the second. Once again, this was the way to go, although I’m not sure anything could have really prepared me…
After learning my lesson in Trigger Happy Havoc, I immediately set the game to Japanese audio, mean logic setting and average action. I didn’t try any of the other settings, so I can’t comment but this worked well for me. More on the voice acting later.
Once again, I played the PS4 version and the mechanics are largely unchanged from the first game, but new ones have been added. I will say the controls seemed much more responsive (maybe I just got use to it after entire game) and I enjoyed the “action” part a lot more this time around. The new mechanics are a hangman mini game (old school shooter type) which I only once managed to complete without taking some damage. It gets pretty ridiculous, but it snapped me at attention and was never so hard as to make me game over, and a logic drive mini game (racing type) which I did fail a couple of times but found really fun to play.
As far as the button mashing aspect goes, the sequel was a definite improvement. There’s also a completely unexpected old school point and click puzzle game in the middle that was awesome. It reinvigorated the gameplay and was one of my favorite parts.
Visually the game remains just as stylish and cool as the previous one. Maybe because I had just finished Trigger Happy Havoc and had gotten a touch of claustrophobia from playing through those oppressively closed off classrooms, the visually open and sunny setting of Jabberwock island felt like a breath of fresh air. I absolutely loved the setting, the sunny, tropical venues, the different themed islands, the somewhat disparate assortment of buildings to explore.
In practice, these still consisted essentially of hallways with single to triple room settings but there were quite a few more locations to explore and the art gives the impression of wide open spaces. I hadn’t realized how much I missed those until I started the game. And can I just say, those private cabins we all had were gorgeous. I can only hope my next vacation is half as luxurious as this. Wait – I don’t actually want my next vacation to be anything like Goodbye Despair…or do I? More on that in the characters section.
This isn’t to say the setting of the first game was bad in anyway. In fact, the last chapter was a throwback to Hope’s Peak Academy (including some fantastically winky 4th wall breaks) and I was genuinely homesick. See this is why I was unhappy with my Trigger Happy Havoc review. How can I properly explain that a game with minimal mechanics, little to no player input, a completely over the top and unrelatable storyline and some of the least realistic characters I have ever seen, resonated with me to the point that I actually *miss* it. I can’t. It’s an experience and you have to feel it for yourselves.
Two somewhat odd new offerings are the 3d walking simulator, and the Tamagotchi clone. Unlike the previous game, you (Hajime) have a visible model and he is the only one in 3d. When traveling from one area to the other, you now do so 3rd person style watching a little 3d Hajime awkwardly bop along a narrow invisible corridor. You can quickly bypass this through various fast travel mechanics but “number of steps” is an important part of the game linked to both xp (which honestly seems useless but I’m a gamer so yay xp), pets (coming up) and unlockable achievements. Honestly all these things are just flimsy fluff that have no actual impact on the game proper and serve to artificially pad gameplay. There’s no real reason to ever walk anywhere unless you retentive. I walked EVERYWHERE. Got some real nice calves to prove it. The 3rd person walking animation isn’t exactly fluid and it controlling Hajime felt quite awkward at first. I got use to it, but I personally preferred the 1st person perspective.
As for the Tamagotchi mini game. It’s exactly as it sounds. The in-game menu has a pet selection which brings up an old-school 8bit screen with a pet. This pet grown according to the number of steps taken and you have to regularly clean its room to keep it alive. You can also give it presents. It can grow to be a number of different pets depending on various conditions and if you keep it alive long enough you will be rewarded with items (gifts) and coins. Otherwise it has no impact at all on the game. Of course, I also raised all the pets. I loved this.
Storyline wise it’s really more of the same. I found that the logic difficulty was a little better this time around and some of the mysteries weren’t instantly obvious. The somewhat expanded universe also seems to offer more possibilities even though the number of characters remained the same. We still get some occasional hand holding but this was done by different characters throughout the game and not quite as pointedly. As a result I found the mystery solving aspect much more rewarding and wasn’t trying to figure out how I could personally murder anyone. Well I was but for different reasons. Hey if you’re gonna play, you gotta play to win, am I right? A lot more super black humour and self-aware tidbits were scattered throughout the narrative as well. Danganronpa was never meant to be a drama and the second game relishes a lot more in it’s zaniness. MINOR SPOILER HERE – Also the game completely trolled me by throwing out endless red herrings about Naegi, I could have been mad but honestly, I have to tip my hat. Good job game – you got me! It rocked! – END OF MINOR SPOILER
Possibly having been completely desensitized at this point, I found the execution scenes both more bearable and less memorable. On the other hand, the murders themselves had a much bigger impact on me and more than once I found myself desperately rushing Hajime along through various maps (running – no fast travel) while muttering no, no, no, please nooooooooo under my breath. I’m lucky I live alone.
There’s no denying that I got much more attached to the cast of Danganronpa 2. This is saying something because I really liked the previous cast. If any of you have ever done a little tour of my pintrest, you’re probably already well aware that I have certain *preferences* which have led to no end of heartbreak. Let’s just say I closely stopped myself from tweeting a complete spoiler in a moment of grief. I’ll try to control myself here (no promises). Let’s just say these guys were awesome and I’m going take a great pleasure in introducing them.
But first a note on voice acting. We tend to pay a lot more attention to acting in anime than in games and that’s a real shame. I think a lot of Bioware’s RPG success has to do with the outstanding voice talent they hire. Goodbye Despair has an impressive cast. The game is still only partly voiced and as the characters are all over the top the voice acting is similarly theatrical, but every single character was perfectly cast. Hajime is much less Mary Sue than Makoto and the occasional sharpness of his tone really brings out that more opinionated side of him. The repeated expression each character says is so in line with who they are and really adds to their personalities.
This said, even in such a splendid cast Megumi Ogata really stands out. Megumi Ogata is a legend. Just a few of her credits include : Neon Genesis Evangelion as Shinji Ikari, Sailor Moon as Sailor Uranus, Yu Yu Hakusho as Kurama, Cardcaptor Sakura as Yukito Tsukishiro and Yue and Danganronpa Series as Makoto Naegi and Nagito Komaeda. She was good as Makoto, she’s always good. She was perfection as Komaeda. I went back to relisten to his speeches on several occasions. The slightly offbeat tempo, the voice cracks and vocal fry, the ominously soft tone which unexpectedly spikes up, all of it came together to convey such a quietly menacing and unconventional character, that it threw me completely off-balance with his every word. This performance was fantastic on its own and when compared to Makoto, Ogata’s spectacular range cannot be denied.
Probably more than anything else, these guys is why Goodbye Despair has wormed its way into my mind and left an indelible mark. Once again I took notes as I was playing and I’m adding them in mostly because I want to relive the game even if just a tiny bit!
- Nagito Komaeda : Well helloooo there! We have almost the exact same hair. Is it sad that I find that a character that looks a little like me makes for such a hot guy? He is super friendly – I hope they don’t slaughter him first. They probably will, I will avenge you bestest buddy!
Nagito is the ultimate lucky student (like Makoto was first game around). He is friendly, straight forward and very – result oriented. Every character in a Danganronpa game is going to be unsettling but this guy takes the cake. I have an unhealthy attachment to him. I also have that same t-shirt and as I mentioned the same hair (I’m quite happy with it), so I have been regularly cosplaying as Komaeda. Let me just say – it’s been pretty successful all around.
- Hajime Hinata: Wow, Hajime is much less of a pushover than Makoto – this is going to be fun.
Yup, this held up. Hajime is still more or less your general nice guy and the sanest character in the game, but he’s got a lot more bite. He gets testy and occasionally impatient. Usually visual novel main characters fall into two categories 1) the ultra-bland which basically allows the player to substitute their own personalities or 2) the EXTRA – which is the most spectacular character in the story, allowing players to live out the fantasy of being the coolest guy around. Hajime is a comfortable in between. I liked that a lot. He never bored me, but I was also able to relate.
- Chiaki Nanami: She sort of reminds me of Kyoko. Love the hoodie! Seen fan art a lot – bet she’s important. She seems nicer though and has a cute smile. I hope she doesn’t start solving everything, I want to like her.
Chiaki is the Ultimate Gamer and she is one of the characters that serves as a guide throughout the game but she’s much more hands off than Kyoko. It takes a while for her personality to really shine through but when it does she’s quite endearing. From what I gather she’s a fan favorite. A very cute girl with a friendly laid back personality, who’s also obsessed with video games is a favorite among Japanese Visual Novel players? Who would have thought…
- Mikan Tsumiki : Oh she’s cute. Do I have a bandage fetish? Why is she covered in bandages? She seems nervous about something. I mean we did just wash up on a beach with no memories so that’s pretty reasonable but she seems a little too nervous. Those lambs to the slaughter types always turn out to be wolves – I’m calling Toko on this one.
Oh Mikan. She remains a weird pandora box of a character. I’m not sure I got to know her any better at all by playing through all her free time events, but it was a heck of a ride. Mikan is clearly meant to make you and Hajime uncomfortable and she does it really well with her extreme self-loathing and victimizing. By contrast, as the Ultimate Nurse she is one of the most useful characters on the island and is shown to be very efficient. In any other cast she would have been a delightfully ambivalent personality but in this cast…par for the course.
- Byakuya Togami : Dude what happened? I mean I’m not shaming but…Also how? Did I miss something. Wait the last game… What?
The very existence of Danganronpa 2 Byakuya was the first meta wrench in the works the game threw at me. He is still the Ultimate Affluent Prodigy and still quite full of himself but something’s different. I mean of course it’s different. It makes sense that if he’s in this situation again he’s going to be reacting in a different way but actually wanting to protect others? The game kept me in the dark for a long time. I ran through every possibility in my head. My most probably explanation was that the 2 was in fact a prequel and the hardened and leaned out Byakuya I knew was a result of his experiences on the island. I would have to wait the entire game to find out if I was right. Again – epic troll. I salute you!
- Fuyuhiko Kuzuryu : Another hottie. I love the full suit on the beach and that hair rocks. I really like the hair. Ok so Makoto thought huge breasted skirt wearing best girl Sakura was a dude but it doesn’t even occur to Hajime that this cutie pie could be a girl. Progress?? Seems kinda tsun, I’m going to MAKE him love me!
Fuyuhiko is the Ultimate Yakuza and the game more or less blocks us from finding out more about him until roughly the midway mark. Of course I was desperate to hang out with him by then, so good job again game! Of all the characters, Fuyuhiko probably has the arc which shows the most growth and it was honestly touching. I really enjoyed his character a lot and his relationships with the others were in fact surprisingly pretty.
- Gundam Tanaka: omg it’s an emo goth chuuni, we are going to be best friends forever. He’s not bad looking either. Love the manscara. And he has gerbils. I have been waiting for another Minsk for YEARS. Get them boo.
So the official title is Ultimate Animal Breeder but we only get to see him interact with his gerbils so it’s hard to truly appreciate his gift. If you don’t bother to get to know him the Chuuni act can get a little much but one on one he becomes quite endearing, as a certain princess seems to have noticed. In many ways he is one of the more classical VN archetypes, with his somewhat dorky yet unrepentant persona. I feel like he was a bit underutilized in the main storyline.
- Ibuki Mioda: I think I’ve seen her too. She’s a bit like a hyper celesti a maybe? I could see it wearing on my nerves. Super cheerful though so that’s a plus. How does her hair do that? Like the sailor outfit!
Ibuki turned out to be such a sweet loud unicorn. The ultimate musician, they went for the artsy alien vibe with her. I really enjoyed her unwavering optimism even if she is occasionally hard to follow. I mean Gundam isn’t exactly a fountain of common sense either. Ibuki gives out this ultimate (ha) just do you vibe. She’s unique and unafraid to be so, and she appreciates others as such. A surprisingly tender hearted personification for this franchise. Needless to say, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop the entire time.
- Sonia Nevermind….her name’s nevermind. Well that’s a great sign. I’m gonna call her whatever. Barbie princess girl fanserve for the part of the audience that’s into that. Basically pop star girl but blonde. Wonder what her English voice is like.
Well guess who’s a prejudiced jerk. That’s right, yours truly! Sonia is the Bomb! I’m so sorry for judging you princess, clearly I was just jealous. Let’s be best friends. Seriously, not only is Sonia a fairly interesting and blissfully sane force throughout the main story, getting to know her will reveal a complex unexpected girl who makes the title of Ultimate Princess sound like an impressive hard earned accomplishment rather than a bitchy moniker. I want to move to the Kingdom of Novoselic now. Sounds like my kind of place.
- Hiyoko Saionji: who’s a little kid with a super foul mouth. Haven’t watched south park in forever. Does it still exist? Do kids know what it is? I like her Psycho face. You got my attention, I want to know more
Hi Yoko is the ultimate traditional dancer which seems like a pretty narrow niche. I liked the adorable little girl who acts like a sadist and talks like a sailor shtick. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really go much beyond that. One of the shallower characters the game has to offer, she does work very well as a plot element. If you have to sacrifice getting to know someone, this is who I would choose.
- Akane Owari: um… I think you lost a button. I’m ok with it, just maybe you hadn’t noticed. I forgot what I was doing…
At first glance, Akane could be Aoi 2.0 but the comparison stops there. Yes Akane is the obvious traditional fanservice babe but instead of going with the standard sweet and agreeably dim personality, she is characterized as aggressive even occasionally violent and narrow minded rather than outright stupid. She doesn’t tend to overthink things but she can be surprisingly insightful and to the point. She is in fact a very stereotypical jock type but I’ve almost never seen the archetype used on a clearly very feminine character. Her backstory was unexpectedly serious and explains her mindset and behaviour perfectly.
- Peko Pekoyama. I think I found my waifu! Emotionless Red eyed girl openly carrying a deadly weapon, no red flags here. She just seems like too obvious a murderer, she’s probably the safest bet here. I’m gonna stick with her. I wonder if there’s bad endings in this game and you can get killed if you hang out with the wrong peeps?
There aren’t any bad endings but that would have been neat. Peko is the ultimate swords woman because ultimate assassin would probably have been too obvious. Despite or maybe because of her generally expressionless demeanor she’s really very lovely and her backstory was beautiful. Hajime had a little crush on her and I had a HUGE one. Even so, we both ended up cheering her on in her own pursuits. Oh pekoyama, I really hope you’re happy now.
- Kazuichi Soda: oh shark teeth and pink hair. Good combo. Pretty cute too. I’m collecting quite the harem, I probably shouldn’t get too attached to anybody. Loud in your face but sort of harmless type. Reminds me of Leon. If he doesn’t get killed first we are gonna be best buds and who knows…
Soda is the ultimate mechanic and aside from Mikan the only one to truly put his ultimate skill to good use. (Well there’s another contender but that would be rather spoilery) personality wise he was rather polarizing, at least in my house. I live by myself. It means one minute I loved him, one minute I hated him. I guess that implies he wasn’t boring…Win!!! He’s a bit wimpy and unreliable which made him rather relatable. I really enjoyed his story about how he messed up his home dye and accidentally ended up with pink hair which he hates.
- Mahiru Koizumi: oh she has the same name as the hot guy in the Melancholy of Haruhi Shizumyia, I wonder if she’ll be a troll. Not sure when this happened but I’m kinda diggin the bright red bowl cut. Love the freckles, waifu no3 or is it 4 nOw… Seems nice
The ultimate photographer who only takes Sears portraits. For all intents and purposes she should have been the ultimate big sister. Completely no nonsense and just a touch tsundere, I found myself releived to know someone was there that I could count on. I wish the free time events had given us a bit more details about her home life.
- Nekomaru Nidai: whoa is that you Mondo, you’ve prettied up. Love the accessories darling. Ok well this has officially gotten out of hand, it’s a good thing the Bears around so there’s at least one person not in my harem. This guy is surprisingly friendly, I really like him.
And I continued really liking him more and more. Nekomaru is the ultimate team manager and as such is all about taking care of others…awwwww. if you avoid getting to know him one on one, his main game arc is probably the most bonkers and he remains a fun and engaging character whose presence you’ll enjoy and possibly question. If you do go out of your way to chat though, you’ll get a glimpse of an unusually serious Katawa shojo story that will tug at your heartstrings and make you yearn for a Nekomaru anime.
- Teruteru Hanamura: alright maybe this is actually Mundo s little bro. The Pompadour hairdo is really very cutesy when you take a good look at it, looks hard to maintain too. I wonder why Japan thinks it’s menacing. Dudes who spend a lot of time on fancy appearance are automatically badasses. I mean, yeah obviously but why did only Japan notice.
Because I am an Eagle eyed expert at these games by now,, I picked up on the fact the teruteru is the ultimate chef. He’s also clearly meant to be the comic relief. He’s a silly, oversexed dork whose made rather likable by his unashamed embrace of his exentricities. I wouldn’t mind being friends with this guy. One somewhat unpractical narrative choice is that his personal back story is very relevant to his behaviour in the main storyline and if you don’t get to know him quickly enough you’ll miss out on the significance of certain scenes.
- Monomi AT first glance I would say she’s a little less annoying than the bear. Ordinarily the saccharine attitude would have been cloying but in this game I figure it’s a fake or I will soon be grateful for any kindness I can find.
I think my first impression of Monomi held true for the entire game. Like Monokuma, she’s a framing device and doesn’t take any real part in the story. She shares exposition duties with the latter for variety I suppose. In the end I neither liked nor disliked the character. It probably wouldn’t have changed anything if she wasn’t there.
- Monokuma oh not this pooface again. I could’ve used a new bad guy. I gotta admit he makes for cute merch. Should I get monokuma plushie? The dog will be sad if I don’t let him eat it.
I didn’t talk about Monokuma in my Trigger Happy Havoc review because he’s not really part of the killing game. Although I found him often annoying, there’s something undeniably menacing about his presence. For pure chill factor he’s better without usami around. After two games he has grown on me considerably.
And that’s everyone! As you can see, through a mix of personal predisposition after the first game and character designs surprisingly tailored to my tastes, I quickly found myself completely smitten with just about everyone. It was rough…I almost spoiled the game for the poor people following me on twitter by sending out a series of angsty tweets after certain events. It’s a good thing this game is such a devil of a good time or I would certainly have fallen in despair.
Finally, once again, you have a gift giving mechanic which is somewhat frustrating and random but it will allow you to get to know characters better. Unlike the first game, I also finished island mode for this one and got to know every single character’s backstory. It’s unfortunate that this is probably impossible to do in a single main game run through, it really adds a lot to the experience.
Yeah I know, it got long again. I think I did a little better this time, don’t you? Really I’m quite happy with this considering I’m back in mourning for the loss of my beloved husbandos and a certain waifu as well. Curse you game! I will never forget you guys!.
TL;DR: Danganronpa 2 Goodbye Despair is even awesomer – play it!
What this vn taught me: I have horrible taste in partners.
Suggested drink: Tropical breeze
- Every time Monomi shows up out of nowhere – take a sip
- Every time Nagito mention hope – take a deep breath
- Every time you get summoned to the central island – take a sip
- Every time Akane gets mad – take a sip
- Every time Kazuichi gets shot down – feel bad for him
- Every time Saionji says something really offensive – take a sip
- Every time people are suspicious of you – take a sip
- Every time Monomi and Monokuma fight – fast forward
- Every time you predict the next victim – Nooooooooo!!!!!