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Danganronpa Decadence review for Nintendo Switch


Platform: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Spike Chunsoft
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Medium: Digital/Cartridge
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: M

It’s kind of hard for me to review Danganronpa Decadence in any kind of normal, objective way. I mean, I’ve played all three of the core Danganronpa games before they got packaged together like this, so it’s not like I’m approaching them from a neutral perspective. What’s more, even though it’s been years since I played these games, they all stand out in my memory pretty distinctly – for better (if we’re talking either of the first two games) or for worse (if we’re talking the third).

On top of that, if you’re like me and the appeal of Danganronpa Decadence is getting to play the new game here, Danganronpa S: Ultimate Summer Camp…well, I shared my feelings on that a few weeks ago. Short version: I loathed everything about Danganronpa S, from its dull, grinding gameplay to its horrible monetization.

All of which is to say: it’s hard to look at Danganronpa Decadence as a package deal when I know its component pieces so well.

That said, a few things stood out for me playing the games again.

First, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is still a great game. In fact, if anything it’s only gotten better with the benefit of hindsight. Even if you go in knowing how gleefully revolting it is – and it feels like it would be hard not to – it’s still incredible (for lack of a better description) to go back and see it again.

For one thing, even though the game is closing in on a decade-old, it still looks incredible. Everything from the insane designs, to the way the game characters and environments literally pop into view, to the splashes of colour all over the screen – the first Danganronpa set a very high standard for the rest of the series that still make it stand out today.

Further, it’s still a pretty riveting game. Danganronpa is what would happen if you crossed Ace Attorney with the Hunger Games (or Battle Royale, depending on your point of reference) with Saw. It’s a gleefully amoral, violent, sadistic murder mystery that delights in presenting you with a cast of horrible teenagers, and then doling out punishments to all of them that far exceed their crimes. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say that it’s about as bleak and pessimistic a game as you can possibly imagine – it absolutely earns its M rating – but because of how it’s presented, it’s impossible not to get sucked in. I mean, you’ll feel terrible about yourself and the game if you stop and think about it for too long, but it’s still an unmatched experience.

On the flip side, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair isn’t quite as amazing as I remember it being. It’s still a solid game, but playing it so soon after the first Danganronpa, you really notice how similar the two are. Sure it’s set on a beach instead of in a school – which, naturally, gives the game more of an opportunity to ramp up its perviness – but the basic gist of it feels more or less the same.

Obviously, that’s not the worst thing: as we just established, the first Danganronpa is amazing, so getting more of it isn’t exactly a punishment. Further, given how successful the first Danganronpa was (by the standards of games that were Vita-exclusive for a very long time), it would’ve been strange for the developers to just abandon that and move on to something else entirely for the sequel. Still, since Danganronpa Decadence is a package deal, playing them one after the other right away makes the similarities feel much more pronounced than they felt when you had a few years between the two games.

While the same could be said for Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, I actually felt much more favourable towards the game now than I did 4+ years ago. While some of those criticisms still hold true – no matter how iconic Monokuma is, having six versions of him as the Monokubs is a bit much – I definitely underestimated just how much knowing the game’s utterly bonkers ending in advance made me view the game through fresh eyes.

Of course, seeing as Danganronpa 3 is a murder mystery at heart, and one of the great things about a murder mystery is not spoiling the ending, you may not want to go in knowing how it all unfolds, in which case much of it will seem like the first two games. That said, the way the story here evolves has enough twists and turns that you can’t help but be drawn along.

Further, one major point in Danganronpa 2 and 3’s favour is that they’re both just as stylish as the first game, but in their own ways. While they may draw inspiration from the first Danganronpa, their settings differ enough that they don’t look like carbon copies. Given how long these three games are put together, having a great look is a nice bonus that helps carry you through a lot of it.

Truthfully, I don’t think that Danganronpa Decadence is the best way to experience the trilogy. These are three very intense games, each with enough crazy twists and over-the-top cruelty and violence that you should probably take a break between each one. One thing that you’ll be reminded of again and again in each game is that they earn their M ratings beyond a shadow of a doubt. But nonetheless, these are still three of the best games the visual novel genre has to offer, and if you’re even remotely interested in playing murder mysteries, they’re all must-plays.

Oh, and Danganronpa S? Just to reiterate, it still sucks.

Danganronpa Decadence provided us with a Danganronpa Decadence Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: A-