Don't despair, Danganronpa is back!
So, what's Danganronpa about? It's a visual-novel styled adventure game. Taking place from Hajime Hinata's point of view, he, alongside 15 other teenagers find themselves stranded on an Island, where a Bunny named Usami kinda forces them to make friends and gather hope fragments. And then Monokuma, a half-black half-white cartoonesque bear takes over and forces the 16 students to kill each other. When not reading dozens upon dozens of lines of text that advance the story in a mostly linear fashion, you'll sometimes be allowed to explore the Island and chatter with the other students. At least until disaster strikes and one of the students decides to murder one of his peers, then you'll have to investigate and gather clues, in order to solve the mystery surrounding the murder and finding out the culprit... or perish. The story can be very bleak sometimes, but it's also pretty humorous in tone, it's a weird mixture that works relatively well, and the game's art direction works wonders with the game's themes.
...until I finished chapter 3. Then the fanservice stops. And by that time, you've probably made more advances, during your free time, on the individual character's stories. Turns out the second half of the game is phenomenal, the twist at the end is excellent, and I'd say that everything that happens on this second half is even better than Danganronpa 1's story. That said, you will probably find a lot of parallels between this characters and the ones from the previous game, some praised it, since they did it to 'play with the players expectations'. I call it a waste. This kind of twist would be neat on a third or fourth entry, not in the second game. I mean, even the murders share similarities with the ones from the previous game, and it's done on purpose, and while I think the new murders panned out much better than the previous one's, I still think I would've preferred more originality on a sequel. Word of warning: This game reaveals the plot twists from the previous game as if they were nothing, so you'd probably want to play the first game first.
But there's even more new elements. There's the Logic Dives, which are a skateboarding-sort-of minigame, where you must jump and pick the correct roads for answers... it's rather fun to be honest, at least when the collision detection on the road works correctly, some of the jumps later on can be a bit of a pain. Then there's 'rebuttal duels', where you must slash across the screen in order to be able to use an evidence 'blade' to cut a contradiction. It's a bit annoying as well, since sometimes it will devolve into a mashing game, because gamers love those. In conclusion, I think the trials have gotten even worse. I didn't like them before, and I like them even less now. That said, as I've mentioned previously, the murders themselves are much more interesting, so I don't really mind slugging through these sections.
I've read everywhere that Danganronpa 2 is supposed to be an 'even better sequel' but.... as much as I liked the second half of the game, I think the gameplay took a dive for the worse. And as good as the game gets, it starts off on a rather low note. And by no means am I saying the game is bad, because by the end of the game I was having as much fun as I was with the first one, but it takes a long while to get there. It's a fact that the new environment provides a lot more variety on backgrounds and what not, but I really enjoyed the highschool theme from the previous game. Regardless, it's another great Danganronpa game, but the should've spent less time trying to appeal to the Otaku culture and trying to provide 'twists' to Danganronpa 1's characters and murders, and more time being more original.
8.5 out of 9.0.