Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls
Top Critic Average
A disappointing spin-off from the excellent mainline games, and although the script is as sharp as ever the move into action game territory just does not work.
Slow pacing, boring mechanics, and a small cast of unlikeable characters makes this a tough experience to enjoy – even for fans
Though Ultra Despair Girls' action components stumble at points, the superb narrative and character development make the rest of the game a riveting experience.
For fans of the Danganronpa series who've never experienced Another Episode, I can't recommend it enough. The shooting gameplay may be stiff, but the world draped around it is more morose than much of series past. Yet despite these darker visuals, there's an even more lighthearted tone than ever before. Komaru and Toku are a delight, and have a witty banter between the two even while trying to survive a death game.
Ultimately, Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls just didn't click for me the same way previous games did. Sure the narrative still has some strong moments, but it's punctuated with third-person shooter gameplay that doesn't enhance my engagement with the narrative the same way the first two visual novels did. If you're a series fan, there's a good, text-heavy, hands-off narrative to be explored here, but the gameplay sections really dragged it down for me.
While this allows for an interesting look at a cross section of Japanese gaming culture, and its creators' views on gender and gaming demographics (with which there may be a problematic relationship for more progressive Western gamers), it doesn't necessarily make for the best game. Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls is fantastic if your interest is learning what happened to some of the characters between Danganronpa 1 and 2, but as a third-person shooter it's only generally passable but not particularly engaging. Though fans of the series will find a lot to love in the story, it has a particular niche appeal (and I really adored it), but as a complete gameplay experience, it isn't for everyone.
Danganronpa’s break from the visual novel genre doesn’t produce the best results. It was definitely an experiment worth trying yet the action gameplay does little to hold up its side of the bargain. Once again, it’s the story and character development that really drive the experience, serving up plenty of fan service. For that reason, I’d easily recommend Another Episode to those who adored the first two games – newcomers, on the other hand, may struggle to see the appeal, especially when wading through shooting segments just to watch the plot unfold.
Some pacing issues and a lack of memorable characters prevent Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls from attaining the lofty heights set by its predecessors, but it’s still an adventure that’s well worth taking.
A wonderfully wicked title that will satisfy new players and scratch the itch of those returning to the series.
Die-hard Danganronpa lovers: add seven points to this score. For everyone else: Score: 85/100.