Oh boy, oh boy, does The Narrator have a story for you!
It begins with 22 students waking up in a Roman-style colosseum, in the style of a certain game. All of them have no idea how they got there, but the thing that seems to be uniting them (for the most part, although one has to remember that characters in sticky situations can be dirty liars) is a Hope's Peak talent and title. Before much more than that can be established, a lovable animal mascot, this time called Monolion (hmm, she wonders why) explains to them the rules of the game—it's the same mutual killing style they all know and love!
Beyond that...with such a group of people, many of whom seem to be openly admitting to masterminding games such as these in the past (that's the cool twist of this game from the very beginning, y'know)...who knows what's going to happen!?
Redemption Game ostensibly began in October 2015, but who really knows what time it is in there anymore? Everyone knows that memories can be misleading these days. Even Narrators are fallible. ...Just don't think too hard about it, okay?
Redemption Game officially wrapped up in March 2016 with a Googledocs mastermind trial.
Tropes featured in Redemption Game include:
- Abandoned Area: Averted compared to pretty much every other Ronpa setting—the Servants interact with the masterminds and seem to have individual personalities even before they're all revealed to be dead victims of mutual killing games and take revenge into their own hands.
- Accuser of the Brethren: Most of the Servants from motive 5, where all the masterminds are followed around by the person who most hates them. Mizuno towards Jun is the most prominent example.
- Afterlife Antechamber: The Orator wants to make it clear this isn't the real hell or purgatory or anything.
- Alignment-Based Endings: Whether the characters are reincarnated or kept in the colosseum to cycle through again depends on whether they were really redeemed over the course of the story.
- All Crimes Are Equal: Downplayed, but there are vastly differing reasons for each mutual killing (some a lot more sympathetic than others) and even so all masterminds are in the same game with the same consequences on the line.
- Anyone Can Die: Actually more hammered home than other Ronpa games; Ella made it to the final chapter and would have been a Karma Houdini for their trap murder, but turned out to be Wrong Genre Savvy and was killed by the final test to see whether the masterminds had changed.
- Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Not even evil necessarily, but masterminds and Servants alike do a lot of terrible shit because of terrible shit that happened to them.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: Actually refers to how the Orator herself comes to the colosseum; one of the masterminds of her game that she thought was a friend attempts to kill her, so she commits suicide by destruction of property rather than necessitating his execution for her murder.
- Big Brother Is Watching: Like most Ronpa games, everyone and everything is constantly being monitored despite the absence of things like security cameras. Orator omniscience and Hive Mind makes this even creepier in hindsight. Yes, she saw every gross and terrible thing you guys did. Everything. And somehow still likes you.
- Black and Gray Morality: Even the outwardly nice ones have all done terrible things. The exceptions seem to be KIYO, who gets the most audience sympathy out of the masterminds and is one of the people considered redeemed enough to leave the colosseum at the end despite her death, and Orator Ameya.
- Body of the Week: Murder mysteries do require bodies in this neat chapter format.
- Bury Your Gays: Zigzagged: the girls in F/F relationships (Sachiko, Arika, Miyako, Savannah) are all dead by the end and don't move on. However, the boys in M/M relationships (Liao, Daisuke, and Mayo) all make it.
- Call-Back: Many characters featured in Redemption Game have also shown up in previous games:
- E.L.L.A in Cloud Coliseum
- Ameya in Archive Of Despair 2,
- Shinta and Kitkat in Garden Ronpa 2
- Masato and Sachiko in Astral Cabal
Even more characters are "wave 2s" with different talents from their original incarnations:
- Isaac and Tori from The Ouroboros Project
- Minoru from Archive Of Despair
- KIYO from Garden Ronpa 2
One character, Arika, was even created to be a child of two characters from Subterronpa. The whole game is like a reunion. And because RG is built on multiverse theory, all those games are canon, too: Masato and Sachiko know of each other in-universe, and Ameya mentions the Minoru from the first Archive, who died before she was born. Not to mention all the Servants from even more games than that...
- The original Danganronpa is also mentioned by some characters as a forerunner to their own mutual killing.
- Archive Of Despair 2 isn't necessary to understand the endgame, since it never officially got to the point Ameya talked about, but players who were in both games would have enjoyed more of the details, such as the chapter 2 victim of that game, Red, taking over Orator duties when Ameya leaves the colosseum.
- Characters Dropping Like Flies
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Oh, tons— Miyako's hanging trap just when she'd nearly gotten free was one, and Shinta sentenced to execution for opening a door, and Kitkat being stabbed over 20 times, and the chapter 5 murders that involved many severed limbs...it's a mastermind game, what do you expect?
- Children Forced to Kill: They're not exactly innocent, but neither are they completely bloodthirsty—the motives are still necessary every time.
- Cycle of Revenge: The Servants ended up a screaming mass of anger after the horrible things done to them in their games, and ended up visiting the same thing on their masterminds, over and over again. The cycle is interrupted when the Orator proposes a compromise in the rules, and is on the verge of falling apart by the end, where the masterminds win their escape from the colosseum by getting their victims to forgive them, which frees the victims as well.
- Darker and Edgier: The usual Danganronpa formula, which features a collection of innocent victims and only one mastermind, has been replaced with a cast full of masterminds plus one power role whose role and motives are still in the dark! Needless to say the murders are going to be easier to swallow and the entire cast more irreverent.
- Death by Despair: A partial motive for Savannah's death—despite being unarmed in more ways than one she charged into an ongoing murder, having already said she didn't want to survive the colosseum anymore. Surprisingly not a motive for the Orator.
- Death by Irony: The Itos are notorious for water deaths, so it takes everyone by surprise when Shinta's execution leads to a firey explosion instead. Bonus, it was written to be intentionally misleading so you think he's splashing around in water until the climactic moment.
- Dead All Along
- Deadly Game: Both the Mutual Killing and its placement in the colosseum, which hearkens back to a different kind of deadly game. To a lesser extent the Ludi, which includes events like battling chimeras and defusing bombs (along with cooking contests and rap battles)—events that injure characters but never kill them. The Catacomb runs may also count, since they're mini-adventures that result in all manner of 'deaths' (at the end of the run you just wake up outside, good as new but without loot.)
- Disproportionate Retribution: The Servants want to get revenge on the masterminds for killing them and their friends, but by the time the masterminds get to them they're dead as well—in at least one case a Servant (Mizu) actually killed his mastermind and he's still the person waving around torches and pitchforks. So since they're already dead, might as well force them into the screaming legion for eternity!
- Don't Fear the Reaper: The Orator who seems to be running this torture-filled purgatory thing is actually a perfectly nice person.
- Dwindling Party: The plot progression is thus: people are killed, people are executed, no one wins a trial, and eventually the person behind it reveals themselves when the cast is small enough, get it?
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones
- Evidence Scavenger Hunt
- Evil Me Scares Me: The final test of redemption is seeing their old selves at their mastermind trial in a mirror before remembering they're dead, which pretty much everyone is upset and ashamed by.
- Fair Play Whodunit
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Most of the masterminds, and a fair chunk of the Servants as well.
- Go and Sin No More: The redeemed masterminds are allowed to exit the colosseum—even though they won't remember the lessons they learned there consciously, it will stay there 'soul-deep,' so they might not end up perfect people but they won't revert the second they're out of there.
- Gotta Kill Em All
- Gotta Ship 'Em All: Happening in-universe—there's even more than one couple who considers themselves engaged. All's fair in love and mutual killing!
- Hell Is War: The colosseum is a pocket universe specifically created by mutual killing victims to torture dead masterminds. It wouldn't be a fitting punishment if it wasn't the ultraviolent mutual killing, right?
- He Who Fights Monsters: A big theme of the game.
- Hive Mind: The Gray Servants most of the time, especially when reacting to Ludi or violence against an individual Servant. Happening less and less often now that Servants are unveiling to get personal revenge or just talk. The Orator turns out to be jacked into it to, explaining a certain someone hearing voices.
- Involuntary Battle to the Death
- Karmic Death: The masterminds all end up dying before their time as punishment for their crimes; most at their endgame trials, even more slightly after that. Jun lived long enough to start a family before he was killed by one of his own survivors. The Utadas lasted the longest, and were one of the worst crime-wise, but still, mind control couldn't keep them safe forever. Much worse is ending up in a colosseum afterwards...
- Laser-Guided Karma: This is what happens to people who run Mutual Killings, guys. Also includes the endgame: the people who had redeemed themselves and gotten their victims to forgive them were allowed to move on and reincarnate into better lives. The ones that didn't yet manage to get there are stuck going through the game once more at least.
- Love Redeems: In the end, everyone seems like a better person for their relationships, even Masato, who was so devoted to the un-redeemed and double-dead Isaac that she wanted to stay behind in the colosseum.
- Misery Builds Character: Well, you can't deny that almost everyone finished up mutual killing a better person than they were at the beginning.
- Ontological Mystery: Like all Ronpa games.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: The point of the game and the motivation of the Servants.
- Plot-Triggering Death: It would be very boring for the story if no one actually died, right?
- Power of Trust: The endgame was a compromise between the Orator, who felt that the cast could redeem themselves, and most of the rest of the Servants. This is why this story is the one being told and not the previous cycles...
- Psychopomp: The Orator acts as kind of a reverse one, taking them back across the ocean to their new lives.
- Public Execution: It's a Dangan Ronpa game, it's pretty much required!
- Redemption Equals Life: The final event before the mastermind trial involves every character proving their regret—only one character failed and they were decapitated for their trouble. More literally, the characters were dead from the very beginning, and endgame involves the penitent ones reincarnating.
- Redemption Quest: The name of the game!
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The whole game, on behalf of the Servants. When they start showing up en masse, punishments range from "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Eye Scream to mind breakage to...the occasional nice chess game.
- Santa Clausmas: A Christmas-themed Catacomb run around IRL Christmas makes the Narrator become very...festive. Others, not so much, mostly because they have no idea what day it really is.Shinta: "Ella Lemnos is ruining Christmas,"Ella: "It's December tenth."
- Save the Villain: Despite Ameya's manner of death and her position as another victim of mutual killing, this is her driving purpose as the Orator.
- The Corpse Stops Here: Subverted—a body can only be announced if it's found by a certain amount of people who aren't the killer, so the discoverers are usually free of suspicion. In the chapter 5 case, Masato allows Ameya alone to examine Isaac's body because of this.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: After the revelation that all the characters are dead, Ella's presence in the coliseum (a kind of afterlife) is more shocking in hindsight. They may have been an unrepentant android but they must still have a 'soul' or something along those lines, and apparently it's possible for androids across the universe to come in as Servants too.
- Win Your Freedom: Unlike most Ronpa games, this doesn't involve just avoiding being a direct killer or victim, as Ella finds out.
- You All Meet in a Cell: In this case, the cells are literal, even though everyone gets their own. Later the cells are established as their bedrooms for the duration of Mutual Killing! Gross.
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Ameya to the masterminds, and Red/Rufus, the endgame Orator Secundus, to Ameya.
- You Wake Up in a Room
- You Can't Go Home Again: In the rules it says anyone that gets away with murder can go home, buuut the Narrator doubts it's happening. Especially since they have been revealed as coming from many different universes. Endgame explains that they'll be reincarnated into a new universe, and postgame involves pretty much everyone coming together again as bettered people.