Overall score 89

As we approach the release date of Danganronpa V3, a push is being made to help those interested in jumping into this series, more opportunities to do so. A series that was only available on Playstation Vita, is now more accessible with PC and PS4 releases. The first two games in the series have already made the jump and now the third game, Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls, is available on PS4 and PC too. A bit different from the other titles in the franchise, but I still consider it a must-play for those into the series.

Danganronpa Another Episode twists up the adventure game formula of Danganronpa by utilizing a more action and engaging approach. Instead of a first-person visual novel text adventure with class trials, DRAE is a third-person action shooter with puzzle elements. It’s definitely a very different experience from what the first two games offered. You can check out my review of the original Vita version here:

THE GOOD: Even with the gameplay being highly different, the feel of Danganronpa is kept well intact. You do get those text boxes and character sprites for a majority of the storytelling, but there is also that thrilling atmosphere that the series is well-known for. There isn’t much of the murder mystery aspect here, since the story is more about survival rather than solving a murder. However there is still an interesting cast of characters you’ll come across and plenty of despair to be had.

Perhaps my favorite thing about DRAE is the puzzle aspects that revolve around the shooting mechanics. The gun that you use across the game has various ammo types that serve their own unique purpose in how they affect enemies and the environment. Many of them felt well thought out and satisfying to solve. This also applies to certain enemy types as well, like there’s a short process to undertake in order to beat specific enemies and bosses. It’s not what you’re used to, but it’s also quite different from what you’d expect from a third-person shooter game.

The presentation of DRAE is also one of the highlights of the game. Not only presented in the visual novel style, but there are also animated cutscenes and 3D cutscenes. Quite a clash of styles, but I never felt like it was overwhelming or chaotic. It gave the game a unique flair in style and it really stood out to me overall. Also, the fact that a good portion of the story is voiced helps push the presentation to an even greater level.

THE BAD: Just like with Danganronpa 1•2 Reload, there’s not much different from the original in terms of content. There are the improvements you see with the platform change, like increased visuals and framerate. I found DRAE got the most benefit from the improved resolution. The game looks quite sharp and runs very smooth. Although, when it comes to the cutscenes in the game, they are still presented at Vita quality and aren’t as sharp looking as the rest of the game. Not a huge surprise, but it is noticeable.

My biggest issue with the jump to console though is that the controls weren’t as great as they could be. Over the Vita, the Dualshock 4 has more buttons available and third-person shooters have been done before on a console. The game on Vita was certainly limited in terms of controls, so I was hoping the jump to a better controller would improve the experience. Unfortuantely, it didn’t.

My main issue with the controls of DRAE is how the buttons were mapped, mainly for centering the camera. You can choose to have an auto camera that will always follow behind you or go with manual for controlling the camera yourself. I played all of DRAE on Vita with manual camera controls and continued to do on PS4. It could’ve been better on PS4, but for some reason they mapped the center camera button to clicking in the right stick. On Vita, it was hitting the right trigger when you’re not aiming your gun. Felt more natural to me to have it there. So that choice felt very odd to me, even more so because when you play the game on a Playstation TV, the right trigger is used for camera centering as well. My point is, it felt fine the first time, so it’s confusing to me as to why they went with the choice they made. There’s also more triggers available on the DS4 controller, so you could’ve still had a center camera button on one of the triggers, while keeping the aim and shoot buttons on triggers as well. Even better, they could’ve mapped the dash button (which is still the circle button) to a trigger as well, or even to clicking in a stick, which is what many other shooter games do. Since they didn’t, it remains to be a hassle to run while moving the camera, which got even more worse due to where the camera center button is placed. So I’m just baffled as to how a third-person shooter game felt worse on console than it did on the handheld. A button mapping option or even multiple control options would’ve been helpful in solving this issue. Still, for as much as I found it weird, I did eventually get used to it. However, I still stand by my statement that the game controls better on the Vita/PSTV, than it does on PS4.

OVERALL THOUGHTS: Even though it is a different type of game, I enjoyed Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls just as much as the traditional ones. I certainly felt doubts about the change in genre when the game was originally revealed, but DRAE ended up being one of my favorite titles for the Vita. So when the Danganronpa games were beginning to get ported over to better platforms, I was really looking forward to DRAE’s release, due in part to the better controller. Unfortunately, the choice made with the center camera button really stuck out to me because it’s in such an awkward spot and I felt that the devs failed in really taking advantage of what the DS4 offered. Although, this is coming from someone who has already played the game entirely on a certain control scheme. So perhaps the problem won’t be as big for a newcomer. Other than that, everything about this port was well done. The increased resolution helps show off the game’s style better and the smoother performance allows for a more pleasant experience. Hopefully with the jump to PS4, Danganronpa Another Episode gets more attention. It’s a title I’ve really enjoyed and I would very much like to see the Danganronpa Team create another game like it. If you’re into Danganronpa, this is very worthy installment in the series that I consider a must-play.

Editor’s Note: Review is based on the PS4 version of game, which was provided digitally by the publisher.

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