Difficulty in Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair doesn’t become a factor in the game’s run until you reach the trial phase of each murder mystery. Before that the game plays out entirely same regardless of the difficulty the player selects. The calm before the storm plays out exactly the same, the murder discovery, and the search for clues all play out the same regardless of your selected difficulty.
But when all the clues have been investigated and the player funnels in with the rest of the characters to begin the trial, is when the difficulty begins to shape the adventure for you. While not entirely present in the game’s first chapter, as it plays out roughly the same regardless of difficulty because of its role as introduction to trial mechanics, there are still some nuanced variation based on difficulty selected.
Using “Kind” difficulty as a baseline, Danganronpa’s normal mode, the game’s logic takes the front seat of difficulty as trying to figure out how clues play into each other and attempting to make leaps of judgement take front and center. The game gives you limited options to choose from in debates, narrowing down your choices, and gives a pretty decent amount of time to think things through before committing to a decision. Additionally mistakes are punished with damage to the player’s life points, but quite a few mistakes can be made before the player completely fails.
“Gentle,” the game’s easy mode, really eases up on the player, reducing the debate options even more, nearly making time a non-factor, and stripping most mini-games of their difficulty in the trials. On the other hand “Mean,” the hard difficulty, takes it in the other direction by giving the player a lot more options to choose from in debates, requiring the player to apply logic to the matter at hand and really find out what the answer is instead of firing blindly. The difficulty also cuts time by a lot for the player, requiring them to be quick with their decisions. Many of the various mini games also spike in difficulty, within the realm of reason, requiring the player to be more active and play closer attention.
Overall difficulty modes in Danganronpa 2, dont affect much of the player’s experience, but instead give the player slightly more nuanced control over how they want to affect the logic of the trials. Do they want to proceed smoothly within the trial, or want to have to think hard about proceeding from topic to topic within the trial.