In the never-ending battle between Hope and Despair, Danganronpa returns once again in another killing game!
Released in 2010 on the PlayStation Vita, Danganronpa has been a widely popular series within Japan. Spawning off a sequel, a spin-off, an anime series and manga, Danganronpa returns once again in the third installment for the mainline series.
As someone who has played the previous titles on the PlayStation Vita, this title has been on my radar for a while now. As a follow-up to the main series, I am happy to report that this game will certainly a blast. Fans will be enthralled into the awesome comedic writing and clever murder cases. The only thing I would say is that if you’re new to the series, I would strongly recommend checking out Danganronpa: Happy Trigger Havoc before reading this review. While V3 does explain some context about the universe, the experience alone is not the same without having played through the first two games. A lot of jokes and key plot points rely heavily on the players having mustered through these two games.
If you get the chance, feel free check out our review and/or pick Danganronpa: Happy Trigger Havoc up on either Steam or PSN.
In any case, if you have played the first two games then you’ll definitely know the formula by now. In Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, a group of 16 incredibly gifted high school students are pitted against each other in a killing game. Led by a psychotic monochromatic bear (known as Monokuma), students must secretly plot to murder each other in the hopes of escaping their high school setting.
Once the body of the deceased is uncovered, from there, students are forced into a class trial to determine which one of them is the killer. Using whatever evidence they may have collected in their investigation, players must use their intuition and knowledge to help narrow down their list of potential culprits. Vote correctly, then that student (a.k.a, ‘The Blackened’) is executed and the remaining students get to live. Vote incorrectly, then everyone else besides ‘The Blackened’ gets punished.
Mustering through some fairly awkward voice acting cues, the story still remains quirky and awesome.
At the start of Danganronpa V3, I found that there were a lot of elements in the story that annoyed me. First off, having played through the series with the english dub on, I was a little taken back at the voice acting. I don’t know what it was with me at the time, but personally, I found the voice acting for the main characters (and monokuma) to be rather annoying – so annoying in fact that I even contemplated switching over to the Japanese. Having played through these games with an english cast, I still ended up ignoring my gripes and sticking with this audio setting. I can say that after a while, it didn’t bother me as much nor deter my experience from the game itself.
Much like the first two titles, V3 features a diverse cast of characters, all of which who contain their set of personalities and backstories. From ultimate magicians, to ultimate inventors, each character has their own set of incredible talents that play a part in the narrative. Like the originals, there are a few characters you’ll probably hate initially. But after a while players will soon might grow to appreciate them for their own bizzare and quirky ways.
Though with that said, that is still one of curses for a game series like Danganronpa. With the time you may spend with characters, be warned that there is still a very likely chance that they may end up dead by the end of the chapter.
While the game for the most part is a visual novel, there are two main segments in which you’ll particapte in. These are School Life and Class Trial. In School Life, these segments allow for players to explore the school campus, interact with students and spend time with them until a murder happens. After that, Class Trials will have players investigating crime scenes, gathering evidence, interviewing students for alibis. You’ll also be participating in a non-stop debate to narrow down the most likely culprits.
Thrills! Chills! Kills!
Throughout the trials, players will have to fire across pieces of evidence (otherwise known as Truth Bullets) to point out any contradictions in their statements. Choose correctly, and you’ll proceed on with the investigation and unravel more details about the case. Choose incorrectly, then you’ll proceed lose some health and will be forced to retry that segment.
As always, the murder trials in Danganronpa V3 are masterfully written. In addition to the non-stop debates that the series has become known for, V3 reintroduces the one-on-one ‘showdown’ debates. This is where players must debate with a specific character to uncover their contradictions.
It wouldn’t be a proper sequel if there weren’t any new mini-games added to the mix. Along with those segments, V3 also introduces Mass Panic Debates. In this mini-game, players must listen over three people, as they frantically talk over one another to defend themselves from these murder allegations. Another mini-game Brain Drive, which has players driving to collect letters to answer questions about the culprits motive. And finally, Excavation Imagination has players mining through coloured blocks to uncover an image linked to the murder case.
What I’ve always liked about these mini-game segments is that each one has been designed to play into the soundtrack of the game. Given this design choice, this has really helped in creating this sort rhymatic/up-beat mood into it all. As players hit whatever corresponding button the screen or drive along the mental highway for letters, it’s hard not dig the techno jazzy tracks to what would otherwise be a fairly mundane mini-game. If it was any other game, it probably would be too distracting. But for a series as weird as Danganronpa, somehow it just works.
It does pain me everytime to see one of my favorite characters either murdered or found to be the culprit. But Danganronpa V3 is a brilliant entry to an otherwise fantastic series. Not only do I recommend this game to fans of the series, but I also recommend all three games to anyone curious enough to try it. While the gameplay may be minimalistic, the story is enough to keep players enthralled for days on end.