Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls is a third-person action-adventure game developed by Spike Chunsoft for the Playstation Vita. It is a spin-off of the main Danganronpa series, as well as a connecting game for Trigger Happy Havoc and Goodbye Despair. It was released on September 1st, 2015 by publisher NIS America.
Komaru, with the Hacking Gun and an attacking Monokuma Bot
You play as Komaru Naegi, younger sister to the main protagonist in Trigger Happy Havoc, Makoto Naegi. The game opens with her apparently living on her own, though we learn soon that she's been a prisoner in her room for over a year. Having no idea of what happened to the world outside, she lives in an apartment alone, going about her daily life and trying to stay sane. Unfortunately, her life is suddenly turned upside down (again) when the door to her prison is destroyed by none other than Monokuma, one of the main villains in the series. After escaping, we are introduced to a surviving member of the previous game, who gifts Komaru a megaphone that can apparently destroy the Monokuma robots that are suddenly attacking the city. After learning about some about the city, as well as being introduced to our partner for the majority of the game, we are treated to a chilling introduction to the Warriors of Hope, the true villains of this particular game. These children are controlling the Monokuma attacking the city, in the hopes of creating a paradise for children by killing all the adults - who are dehumanized by being called 'Demons' - and ridding the children of their influence. We learn over the course of the game that the Warriors of Hope are haunted by events in their past - effectively trapping them with their own 'Demons' who they are attempting to destroy.
There is a lot more story to it, but expounding anymore will take much longer than I feel is appropriate for this review, as well as spoiling major plot points from both the previous and subsequent game. Suffice it to say it's a very well-crafted game that holds many twists and turns before the finale.
The graphics are very similar to the games it's spun off from, though with added 3D models since a good portion of the last few games were 2D. I'm glad they stayed true to the previous games in terms of graphics, though the game gained a lot with the introduction of the 3D modeling. The controls are, sadly, somewhat finicky at times, making it very troublesome to hit the moving target at times. I don't believe I found any way to fine-tune the aiming, but I jumped right into the action without really spending time in the settings so I might have simply missed the option to make aiming easier. At any rate, I've yet to really run into any issue with the fine-tuning, so it's not really a complaint.
As for gameplay, it's fairly straightforward. You are attempting to escape and survive in the 'Demon Hunting Game' put on by the Warriors of Hope. With the help of your partner, Genocide Jack, you move through the city, fighting Monokuma, the Warriors of Hope and, ultimately, Despair. The series revolves very heavily around the concepts of Hope and Despair, so the writing touches on the swing connecting these two emotions. The writing sometimes comes off as...contrived because it reuses the 'It's hopeless I can't go on' trope more than a few times, followed immediately by the 'I might as well keep fighting' trope almost immediately after. However, given the overall story, the writing makes sense in this regard since the story as a whole is built on the connection between the two.
You can alternate freely between Komaru and Jack, though Jack has a time limit based on the battery life of the stun gun. Jack is invincible, which makes her ideal for large groups of Monokuma, but keeping an eye on the battery meter (as shown above) is important to keeping yourself from running out of battery life and leaving Komaru high and dry when you need backup. This resource can be replenished by defeating Monokuma, or activating Monokuma machines, scattered around the City. Both can drop batteries, hearts to replenish Komaru's health, or Monocoins, used to buy upgrades to Jack's abilities or 'Bling Bullets' which modify the ammo used in the Hacking Gun.
Lastly, randomly located within the City are 'Game Rooms', which function as a challenge room. You are given a group of enemies and a goal to achieve within the room. In the image to the right, the clear condition is destroying all of the Monokuma in a single explosion. The Shield Monokuma turn in unison and you're only able to use the Knockback Bullet. For this, I had to sneak up behind the Bomb Monokuma on the right and shoot him with Knockback, blasting him down the room and he blew up all the Shield Monokuma. These rooms add a level of strategy to the game, and helps break the monotony of running between very similar locales.
I have a long way to go before I've finished the game; I'm just now in Chapter Two, and I'm almost certain there are five or six chapters within the game. So I won't be seeing the end of this one for a while. But, if this one is anything like the previous entries, and all that I've played so far suggest it's very similar, the journey to the end will be a twisting and chilling one. I would definitely recommend this game for anyone with a Vita or a Playstation TV, because this game - as well as the other two - is one of my favorites on my Vita.