+The art style and soundtrack make the game a living graphic novel
+New mini-games are a blast to enjoy
+The Monokids are absolutely adorable (how is that possible?)
+A new cast offers in a new enjoyable approach to an already well established theme
+Would make a solid VR experience
-Cases seem dull and repetitive after the first few trials
-Lying, while interesting during cases, doesn’t change the games overall ending
When I’m usually asked about the games I’m playing, it’s because I’m playing something with an entirely weird name, and Danganronpa as a series, just happens to be one of those franchises, which I’m not ashamed to talk about. The answer I always give pertaining to its overall premise? Murder. The fact the game is about it’s Battle Royale-style and Hunger Games styled themes.
Just like the the themes of Battle Royale, which the series seems inspired by, Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony follows closely by putting students into a locked in zone where they must discreetly kill one another in order to survive. Without an ability to connect with the outside world, the students are forced to take on this SAW like game that’s been placed before them, while trying to outsmart a sentient teddy bear named Monokuma. His entire reason? He just wants to have fun at the expensive of the lives of the students he has trapped.
To even escape the school, the students must get away with murder, they must do so without being caught, and if they are? They’ll be executed and leave those whom are innocent to play the game on their own. Just like the previous games, I’ve always found this unique use of CLUE, Battle Royale, and CSI to be one of the best parts of the entire series.
The world is bizarre, solving each murder is even more-so bizarre, but so is the dark humour that comes with it. Unlike it’s predecessors V3: Killing Harmony isn’t shy about it’s story, nor is it shy about the bigger picture that the game itself has. By and large, the best aspect of the game, is the fact it’s a surprising twist compared to the rest.
Unlike its predecessors, Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony is more mainstreamed. Cases are easier to solve, murders aren’t near as surprising, and the idea of finding out who the killer was isn’t near as hard. The best highlight of them all, was the games opening case, the very first one, which players are forced to solve. To be blunt, it was the hardest, the most fierce of them all, and it wasn’t shy about making player search high and low to solve its puzzles. After that first case? It all seemed to slow down, become to easier to solve comparison to those in the previous titles.
Though not all has changed. Danganronpa V3, follows through from the first two games. Just like its predecessors, this one consists of class trials, each of them play off as mini-games that require you to use your head as well as your fingers to solve them. The main portion of it is interrogating/debating with other students. The words from each of the other students will float about the screen, changing both direction as well as speed, and these are where players are forced to discover key words that players must identify before shooting them with a Truth Bullet.
These words words will help players break their arguments, forcing them to either refute or agree with the facts and evidence before moving onto the next topic. From there, things get a bit heated as debates quickly turn into a mass panic, and several voices, discussions, and bits of evidence are called forth while in the trial room. But don’t think things haven’t changed. Debates have a new feature. While working to tell the truth or agreeing with you, you can also commit perjury by lying. You no longer need to use evidence or logic in order to solve a case. You can lie about it, and push the discussion towards a new topic.
Fortunately, this neat feature isn’t something you always need to use in order to move through your debates. But the uses of lying also brings in an ethical and moral dilemma. If lying is the ultimate ways towards a plausible truth, is it wrong, or is it okay for you to do so through your playthroughs or should you take into consideration the complications it can cause? Lying, as stated, is almost always optional. If you do choose to take advantage of lying, you may want to take note that the games overall story may change.
What’s more interesting is the fact that no matter the choices you’ve made, they all lead back to the same point. The end result is always the same. But it does make it rather enjoyable to know that no matter what you do, there are multiple paths, multiple points to that single end point. Among these new mini games comes my favorite. Psyche Taxi, one that sounds just as you would imagine. Players take control of a car, while taking control of the car, players must drive it continuously through letters to form questions, and pick up passengers whom have the answers you are seeking.
There are others such as Debate Scrum where two sides of opponents are pitted against one another over a specified topic. In order to compete, they shoot rocket-keywords at one another, which the other side has to push back with in order to match them up. As you do, players are forced to help bring others to their side in order to find the truth, and stack up all of the evidence they’ve found.
Small things like this are rather fun, enjoyable, and add to the games overall appeal that players will find enjoyable. That doesn’t exclude the fact that the game isn’t just highlighted by its classic mechanics. It’s soundtrack and art styles are spot arm. Let alone are they charming, they’re also quite well done. Allowing players to enjoy a unique story requires two things outside of gameplay mechanics and a solid script: Great animations and sound.
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony does all of them well. The music itself is something that seems like a natural extension of the game itself. The songs all fit their themes perfectly, making each situation even more enjoyable due to the immersion that the songs can cause. Songs such as Climax Reasoning 3 and Class Trial Cosmic Edition fit in quite perfectly and offer up an atmospheric upbeat to the game. While the music itself has been solid and quite enjoyable, it also helps bring the cast to life as the game unfolds.
Characters such as Kaede, the Ultimate Pianist, is an enjoyable one. Kaede is one of the most straightforward characters out of the cast, your main protagonist, and the women whom works side by side with 16 other main characters. Each of these characters are an “ultimate student” whom excels within a specified field of study. You have characters such as Shuichi, the ultimate detective, and even colorful characters such as Tsumugi, the ultimate cosplayer and Kiibo, the ultimate robot.
Thanks to their personalities and their traits, mesh up well, offering each of these characters a unique twist to the story that unfolds. The only downer to the experience? The extremely limited time players are given in order to build relationships with the cast. It’s short, it’s very short, but the upside? The cast members are solid. They re enjoyable, and they do not feel wasted through any of the games mini games, sketches, or cutscenes. Even with some of the content being completely optional, the games are solid, they are great, and they do not take way ones enjoyment to keep going. This is what makes the game fun, enjoyable, and hard to even put down as the jokes keep on rolling out, giving the game a more anime-style feeling to them.
With murder and mystery being the games key themes, Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, isn’t just a itle for mere amusement. It’s one that has relevancy thanks to in-game nods to franchises such as Full Metal Alchemist, Astro Boy, and a select few other anime related titles. Luckily, it all fits in tone with the game itself, giving the game its own unique sense of life.
With how they have the game carefully built, it works out, and it takes the series to a whole new level, allowing Danganronpa V3 to stand out among the rest. It’s a game that’s all about exploration, memorization, and players being able to put each puzzle together as they try to survive.
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony – PC, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Publisher: NIS America
Release Date: Now Available
Cost: $59.99 and $39.99
While some of this game seems like a giant murder mystery, it will, to some, seem like an extravagant game of CLUE where everyone is the potential killer, and it’s up to players to become Mr. MaGoo in order to solve the crime. Unfortunately, it’s formula is one that’ll leave you almost ready for tears as the inevitably that someone is going to die is set before you with constant reminders of ones own mortality.
Our review is based upon a retail version that was provided to us by the games publisher. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
Final Score: 8 out of 10
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.