So there I was, PlayStation Vita in hand, and the sole game I bought the system for completed after a few months of playtime - that game being of course, one of the greatest games/JRPGs of all time: Persona 4 Golden.
But this left me in quite the quandary... I literally purchased a Vita for a single game (P4G). What do I do now? Do I just shelve the system at that point? Let it collect dust? A $300+ purchase for a single game (still worth it imo)?!
I figured there had to be something else on the system worth playing, so I took to the internet. And every list I came across, whether it have been a GameFAQs board, 4chan, or some other video game forum, this game kept popping up.
Having played and enjoyed the first Phoenix Wright game at the time, and being no stranger to the visual novel genre, I figured, sure, why not give it a shot? So I ordered both this game and its sequel for relatively cheap...
I still remember popping this game cartridge into my Vita and playing through parts of the prologue... and my initial impressions were that I made a mistake...
Goofy, weird, "very anime", bizarre... "I didn't do my homework on this one... God damn, this game is throwing waaaay too many characters at me all at once. Ultimates!? What the hell is this game!? OK, I think I'm done."
However, and maybe it was the lack of other games I had to play at the time, but I went back to it shortly thereafter. I couldn't just stop playing and give up on it in the damn Prologue section of the game!
I pressed on... and I am so glad I stuck with it. While it didn't immediately grab me, even after the first death, and the easily identifiable first killer, I did start to settle into it and accept its bizarre setting and world.
However, it wasn't until the first Class Trial that I was starting to become more and more impressed with the game's concept and ideas. And while I thought the first trial was obvious who the killer was (and it was), the game still ended up throwing me a curveball with a certain character's motive... I'll leave it at that though, as I don't want to drop any spoilers... but I was blown away by its presentation and eventual realization as things began clicking into place. It was very effective for me; I personally felt betrayed!
From there, I just kept liking it more and more - the game's whackiness and mystery fully winning me over.
Now let's talk about the "weird bear" gracing this game's cover - I am usually one to despise the JRPG mascot character, but there is something about Monokuma that "just works". This evil, little monster is a legendary antagonist throughout this game. At times hilarious and silly, and at others, surprisingly monstrous - his voice actor really helps bring the charisma and zaniness of Monokuma to life. All in all, Danganronpa would NOT work if it wasn't for him. He is the heart and soul of this franchise over anything else! Which leaves me to think that Monokuma has to be easily my favorite mascot character from any game I've ever played...
Now, before I wrap up this review, I'd be remiss if I didn't bring up what made me fall in LOVE with this game and franchise - and it is what occurs in Chapter 5 and then continues on throughout the rest of the game... an absolutely incredible shift as the mystery starts to unravel. From the music changing (you know what moment I'm talking about if you played it), to the character's change in focus, it had me beyond hyped!
And let's just talk about the music for a second - this game is full of bangers! There are so many badass tracks in this game that just fit this universe so well. It is so good in fact, that I've listened to the soundtrack outside of the game quite frequently. I'll list out a handful of my favorites below my review.
In summary, this is one of my favorite visual novels and it turned me into a Danganronpa fan... don't judge a book by its cover (or in this case the prologue) and play it! If you have a soft spot for mysteries and trials in games, like I do, and can handle some anime whackiness, I think you'll love it too!