The real meat of Danganronpa 1.2 Reload’s gameplay comes in the form of its Class Trials. Once you’ve searched the crime scene and other significant locales for clues, you’re thrust into a makeshift courtroom with the other students and must use the evidence to highlight contradictions and build an irrefutable case against the culprit. In these, you’ll fire your evidence, known as Truth Bullets at weak points in student statements, play Hangman to piece together clues, and put together a comic strip puzzle to show how a murder took place. Each and every one of these never feels overly complicated, and the difficulty scale across the cases helps to build your confidence with each and every new mechanic the game throws at you. Toss in a thumping techno soundtrack, a ton of neon coloring, and swift camera movements and you’ll find yourself completely immersed in the tale unfolding before your eyes. After the first case, there’s no refuting the immense feeling of satisfaction when you discover the truth, and the games continue to deliver this consistently throughout their duration.
Unfortunately, these Class Trials only make up about a third of the game, so if you’re not a fan of visual novels, the remaining elements on offer may feel like a bit of a drag. Free Time sections, in particular, suffer from this. In order to pad the story out, you’re given free reign to speak to whichever students you want. It’s almost an attempt at Persona’s social system, but it’s far too shallow to feel rewarding and newcomers will likely sleep through these to skip to the next major story point.
My main issues with 1.2 Reload largely revolve around its polish and presentation, or lack thereof. While I appreciate these were by no means meant to be a remaster, blurry backgrounds and textures popped up all too often. Character models made the transition to the bigger screen and more powerful system alright, but you’ll definitely see indistinguishable details in the environment that really tarnish the experience as a whole. Factor in a good handful of typos and grammatical errors that I can only assume have occurred during translation and not been caught, and Danganronpa 1.2 Reload yearns for that extra bit of polish to really do these games the justice they deserve. If you can overlook these presentational shortcomings and embrace the wacky characters’ hilarious dialogue, especially the insane, sadistic, pun-loving bear Monokuma, then Danganronpa 1.2 Reload is well worth checking out.
Throughout the 30+ hours I’ve poured into Danganronpa 1.2 Reload’s two games, I’ve discovered an absolute gem of a video game series that rewards players not with action-packed gameplay, but superbly-written, sinister tales that had me hooked from start to finish.
Score: 4/5 – Great
• Both games’ stories are still fantastic and compelling from the get-go.
• Two excellent casts of colorful, interesting, and unique characters.
• Monokuma is a hilarious, evil mastermind.
• The presentation just isn’t there.
• Free Time sections feel shallow and won’t appeal to those outside of the dedicated fanbase.