Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony Review – So Long, Bearwell
Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software (PSV/PS4) Spike-Chunsoft (PC)
ESRB Rating: M
Release Date: September 26nd, 2017
Thank you NISA for supplying a copy for the review
It’s time. A new Danganronpa has arrived. This isn’t like Ultra Despair Girls where it became a 3D puzzle shooter/action game hybrid. But instead, we’re going back to the traditional scenario of 16 high school kids with ultimate abilities trapped in an unfamiliar environment killing each other while you have to figure out who killed who. Don’t worry though, if you’re new to the series, this is a meant to be a new starting point so knowledge of the previous entries aren’t needed. Also, please know that is not to be confused with Danganronpa 3 which is the ending to the previous Danganronpa games.
Unlike the previous entries where the games sort of continuously went on about hope and despair, this game is more about finding the ability to believe in yourself and to keep moving forward no matter how bad the situation is, even if you don’t want to look at the truth in the face. Just like the previous entries of Danganronpa and Danganronpa 2, the game’s story is split into three separate game types. Daily Life, Deadly Life, and the ever unfortunate – Class Trial.
Daily Life itself is split into three acts. At the start of each new chapter, you are given items to help you further examine and investigate the school. During this time, the plot moves forward pretty quickly as the deeper you get into the game, the less there is to look into. Once you’ve finished investigating everything, and a few story events go by, it’s time to relax and have some free time. Of course if you’d like you can skip this part of the game by going to bed if you’d like. But why do that when you get to hang out with its questionable cast?
I’ll be honest, Danganronpa V3’s cast is sort of divisive for me personally. Some characters are just plain boring and don’t do anything like Tsumugi, whereas on the flipside there are characters like Miu who can’t do anything but spout vulgar innuendos. Of course there are some more normalized characters like the sidekick Shuichi or my personal favorite K1B0. I will say though, in comparison to the cast of the other games, there is a level of eccentricity that can’t be topped for better or for worse. You can only to hang with a few people in a chapter so pick wisely. By hanging out with them not only do go into their backstory a bit more, but you gain skills to use for the impending class trial.
Free time ends once the unthinkable begins – the discovery of someone’s untimely death. With this we move onto act two of a chapter known as Deadly Life. Deadly Life is a generally pretty short as you’re going moving from point of interest to point of interest. You’re finding clues on the murder, whether it’s by getting everyone’s alibis or examining a few things like when you were earlier in the chapter. In some cases, it becomes pretty obvious as to how the killing stunt was pulled off, some others not so simple at first glance. Regardless, once you have all of the puzzle pieces- it’s time to find out whodunnit in the class trial.
I’m sure it sounds like Danganronpa hasn’t changed the formula at all, so far. However, this entry of the franchise brings some incredible additions to the usual class trial. Granted, those familiar with the series already know how class trials go. Most of the time, when listening to your classmates debate, you’ll be shooting down any inconsistencies they have or agreeing with what they’re saying using a truth bullet. What makes DRV3 special is that there will be some instances where you will be listening to 3 non-stop debates at once, so you’ll have to be extra attentive as to who is telling the truth and who is lying. It doesn’t stop there either, as now you have the ability to lie. All of your truth bullets become lie bullets as they now mean the opposite. While the game will clearly point out to you it’s time to lie to move the debate onward to find the truth, there are actually a few hidden instances in which you can lie to move the case forward as well. It’s pretty clever honestly.
What’s better is that this entry also continues to improve on the minigames as well. Hangman’s Gambit is actually good for once. Like the other variants you’re still shooting down a letter, but now you have more control over what and you don’t have to micromanage the the screen to keep everything in order. There’s a taxi driving minigame called Psyche Taxi that replaces the previous entries’ logic dive. It’s the same thing but instead of snowboarding and avoiding obstacles, you’re driving while avoiding other cars and you’ll be hitting boxes which will make up the question to move forward. Once the question has been asked you’ll have one lane of the road to choose from to continue as a form of answering the question. The rhythm game has also changed once more although now instead of one bar indicating a beat, each button prompt that appears on screen has their own timer so you’ll have to quickly figure out which you’ll have to push in order. Once that’s been completed you’ll have four words to make a sentence out of to complete the minigame. The closing argument has changed a little too as now it doesn’t actually start until all of the pieces have accurately lined up. So there is no start and stopping if you think you lined up everything only to get one part wrong, then having to fix everything.
Outside of those quality of life changes or new takes on an old formula there are new minigames as well. One being my least favorite minigame in the whole series: Mind Mine. In this you’ll be mining blocks to reveal an image. It’s not just one image either. There are a set of images set away in those blocks and you have to pick which one is the correct one. The reason why it’s deemed bad is because it’s absolutely boring. There’s nothing fun about it whatsoever. Funnily enough, my favorite minigame in the series is also made in this game – debate scrums. Everything about it is created to get you pumped. From the music that starts with the cutscene that goes with it, its buildup is incredible. The actual game portion itself is a good thought exercise. When this minigame comes up, it means everyone’s opinions are split, so you’ll have to take down the opposing opinions in one fell swoop by matching their statements with one of yours but you won’t know what theirs is until they start talking.
All in all, some trails feel like they drag on too long because the characters decide to look at everything from every angle even when it’s pretty obvious as to how the murder is set up and executed. While there is certainly nothing wrong with looking at everything from every angle, the trial would be more than half over until they get on the right track. In some situations, this is a major nuisance— especially when you already have a good idea as to who or even how the murder was done.
As far as graphics go, nothing’s changed in comparison to the others. Other than the overall stylization of the game. The text flying in nonstop debates feel much more alive in comparison to previous entries as now they visually enforce what a character is saying by displaying it visually through the text from time to time. It’s a cool little visual treat. As far as music, while yes, some tracks are reused, the new tracks in themselves are great and feel right at home.
When it all comes down to it, this entry almost feels like a mixed bag. At its core this is Danganronpa no doubt about it. Like DR2, the highs are incredibly high, and the lows are incredibly low. In this scenario though, the developers took everything about the series and just cranked it up to the next level. From the plot twists to the characters, from the beginning of the game all of the up to ending is something incredible. I’ve never played a video game where the final hours made the experience a roller coaster of emotions during it, and then the five stages of grief a few days after beating it.