Back in 2017, we learned the Danganronpa team was working on Zanki Zero: The Last Beginning, a new adventure. The game can feel really different! After all, you are trying to help people survive in a hostile environment, complete missions, and explore dungeons. But, while the story and mechanics are very different, there are a lot of elements that feel familiar and harken back to Danganronpa, which might help people in their Zanki Zero: The Last Beginning escapades.
The initial setup can feel a bit familiar. Zanki Zero: The Last Beginning features a small group of people who find themselves trapped on Garbage Island. They have no contact with the outside world. There seems to be no way to escape. Missions are doled out and must be completed, if they want to occasionally be given the supplies they need to survive. The quests here are more like “build a toilet,” “find machine parts,” or “create a kitchen,” rather than, “kill your classmates without being caught to survive.” Still, we have eight people who initially all seem to have no idea what they are doing there and why. They don’t know each other, though Sachika seems familiar to our initial lead character, Haruto.
The implementation of mascots who seem to know more than they are letting on helps with building a similar atmosphere. The survivors receive missions throughout the day from the two hosts of Extend TV, Mirai and Sho. They aren’t as antagonistic or cruel as Monokuma, but can leave people with some harsh tasks, send them into uncomfortable situations, and reveal harsh truths. If anything, Mirai might bring to mind Usami (or Monomi). Their interruptions at plot points and insights are like less anxiety-inducing Monokuma Theatre segments.
The adventure elements found in Zanki Zero: The Last Beginning can get you thinking too. A lot of it feels like a turn-based, first-person dungeon-crawler. You will visit islands that drift up next to Garage Island and get to go through ruins on them. Battles take place in real-time, with characters in your party attacking when you press the square button when adjacent to an enemy. But as you go around, you will have to investigate areas and solve puzzles. Switches might need to be pressed. Items you have picked up might need to be left to trigger a door. There are things like books and posters to check for insight into the areas around you. Paying attention to what is around you and looking closer can feel like the investigation segments of Danganronpa, though things aren’t quite as in-depth.
Zanki Zero: The Last Beginning is also good at setting people on edge and making you suspect that something else could be going on here. The Danganronpa series is known for its twists, where people you meet in the beginning can seem as though they fit into one sort of box, but after a while you realize they were a totally different person all along. There are other factors at play, and you only are being drip-fed elements of the story. One of your first hints that this is going to offer the same surprises happens within the first fifteen minutes. Every one of the eight clones has an X-Key, a piece of tech in place of their belly button where their mind and memories are held. Minamo, the police officer, tells you all that Sachika’s looks different. When Haruto and Sachiko are alone a few minutes later, her attitude changes and she shows her X-Key. It’s the first thing designed to set you on edge, with more secrets to come.
The atmosphere surrounding Zanki Zero: The Last Beginning may leave people feeling nostalgic. This game from the Danganronpa creators definitely has the same kind of attitude to it, what with it also involving a group of eight strangers trapped in a place they can’t escape as they learn the truths about themselves and their surroundings. The stakes are just as high for them. There are event mascots issuing missions that must be completed along the way, in the hopes everyone might survive. People who loved the adventure series may find themselves drawn to this survival game too.
Zanki Zero: The Last Beginning will come to the PlayStation 4 and PC in North America and Europe on April 9, 2019, and the demo is immediately available. The game is immediately available for the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita in Japan.