Visual novels [as a “videogame” genre] are a weird thing, there can be very entertaining ones, like the school life parts of Persona aaaaand that was it for me until about two months ago. It was then that I finally decided to play the DanganRonpa series. I had no idea what they were, it just looked animeesque with neat character designs.
The game starts with our protagonist, Makoto Yuki, the Ultimate Lucky Student, being scouted to join Hope’s Peak Academy, the most prestigious high school that ever existed and that you have to get invited by the school to attend by being “Ultimate” at whatever it is you do. By “scouted”, I actually mean he got selected at random and that’s why he’s the “Ultimate Lucky Student”. As he enters the main hall, his vision gets blurry, he passes out and wakes up inside a classroom with barred windows feeling disoriented and only remembering that he just arrived to the school. As he investigates the building, he finds 14 other “Ultimate” students, who all were supposed to be there for the semester opening ceremony and confirm that they’re trapped inside the building that they all think can only be Hope’s Peak Academy. Soon, an announcement is heard telling them to come to gymnasium. As they arrived they’re greeted by the most fantastic character in this franchise.
Monokuma, a small bear half white and half black, introduces himself as Hope’s Peak Academy’s headmaster and informs the newly enrolled students that they are now playing a killing game, later known as “The Killing School Life”. To win the game, one student must kill another student without the other figuring out. If you accomplish it, you get to graduate Hope’s Peak Academy and leave the school. At the same time, the rest of the students that couldn’t figure out who killed will be executed as punishment for not solving the case. On the other hand, if you’re found out, you will be the only one executed. The way the others find out “whodunit”, to use Monokuma’s phrasing, is via a Class Trial, where all the alive students must participate. At the end of the Trial, everyone cast their vote for who they think the killer is. This how the Killing School Life begins.
In case you don’t know what visual novels are, they are story driven games that rely heavily on being interesting to keep you, well, interested. They have very little real gameplay moments in them as they’re mostly point and click games, where you only interact with the world at the time of making a decision (there are also hentai visual novels and those keep you interested because of the plot, everyone knows this, but that’s not why we’re here). Danganronpa improves on this tiresome aspect of visual novels by adding actual gameplay elements while allowing to get to know the cast. The game divides itself in three segments: Free Time, Killing Time, and Class Trials.
Free Time is where you get to hang out with the other characters and if you get to know them enough, you get cool abilities to use during Class Trials. Killing Time is the time you get to investigate the crime scene of murdered people and interrogate everyone. Class Trials is where the game gets insane, it’s basically a sequence of minigames to get through to figure out who the killers are. Be ready for the feely feelz that feel feely, plot tweeeeeests, rollercoaster rides and Monokuma doing inappropriate things, like being naked through the whole thing.
I didn’t think I’d like the series so much, and in one month or so, I was done with the 3 main games and the sequel anime. If you feel like trying a goofy game that kind of takes itself seriously but not really, I really recommend the series in general, except for Danganronpa, which should only be played if you are determined to consume everything from this series.
I’m saying goodbye, but I’ll be talking about Danganronpa 2 Goodbye Despair soon enough. For now, stay safe and have a fantastic day, everyone!
Have you played Danganronpa? What do you think about it? Please leave a slice of your opinion in the Comment Section below! The bakers are always thrilled to read you!
Featured image taken from Desconsolados.
“Monokuma” image taken from PcGamer.