Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony is…..did you really think I was going to give away the ending to this review at the start of it? Well I’m not, yes that could be classed as teasing you but this game does what I just have and much more. Prepare your mind because it will be subject to a lot of twists, turns and lies.
The new killing game begins, Monokuma has returned to once again pit the Ultimate’s against each other in a kill or be killed game. The battle between Hope and Despair once again takes center stage, will you cling onto truth, faith and the belief in your friends or sink down into a pit of lies, distrust and hate. 16 students have been thrust together into a school environment, told they must take part in the game or be exterminated.
Each student is an Ultimate which means they are especially proficient in a certain field. Kaede Akamatsu is the Ultimate Pianist, Shuichi Saihara is the Ultimate Detective, Kirumi Tojo is the Ultimate Maid etc. This provides a variety of characters differing in looks, personalities, behaviours and traits. Every character I’m invested in, I can relate to them in some way, definitely not all because one or two maybe a bit, out there.
Over the past year I have been introduced to the visual novel genre and have played a number of titles so far, Steins Gate 0, Root Letter and Danganronpa 1 & 2 just to name a few. In terms of interaction and gameplay they are usually limited, it’s more about the story and character development. Danganronpa V3 from a gameplay perspective is fun, dependent on who you are it may become monotonous but I feel the title does a lot to prevent that from happening.
Chapters are split into three sections, daily life, deadly life and the class trial. Daily life is all about the exploration, story development and friendship building, take some time to build a relationship with the other students, search each area and continue the story. Deadly life occurs after a death has taken place, during this segment you investigate the murder trying to amass all the evidence possible in order to bring the culprit to justice.
The Class Trial is the boss fight of each chapter, you are in a court type scenario, standing in a circle with the other students each discussing the murder and trying to figure out “whodunnit”. A vote will take place at the end, choose the correct person and everyone besides the culprit survives, get it wrong and everyone except the culprit dies. This provides the motivation to investigate all you can and work out what happened. Splitting the chapters in this way breaks up the potential monotony of doing the same things over and over by having certain aspects and features split into different segments. I left each segment in anticipation of what will happen next.
Class Trials have a plethora of gameplay features and mechanics that switch things up where needed to keep the momentum going. There are 9 minigames in total that you can experience, Nonstop Debate in which you must butt in at the right time during a debate with a piece of evidence that either goes along with or contradicts a statement made. Psyche Taxi has you drive along the road with the goal to pick up enough letters to fill out a question then drive into the correct answer, rinse and repeat to complete. Argument Armament is a one on one debate that is a rhythm type deal, click the right button at the right time to take down your opponent’s health.
Not once did I feel myself getting bored or complacent with what I was doing. Instead I had to force myself to put the controller down because apparently sleep is something that humans need. If it weren’t for needing sleep I would have happily completed this game in one playthrough, never wanting to stop because I just needed to see what each character would do and where the story will take me.
Upon completion of the core experience, four bonus modes become available. Year-round Space Variety Love Show: Dangan Red Salmon Gang is a dating sim mode in which you take the other students on dates and build relationships with them. The Card Death Machine sees players collect cards that are based on characters from the three core series Danganronpa titles, these cards can then be used in the next two bonus modes. Super High School Level Development Plan is set in an alternate timeline in which none of the characters in the previous and current game(s) died, the player moves around a board with the use of dice rolls, interacting with other characters .
Dungeon of Despair: Monokuma’s Trial is a dungeon crawler which benefits from the cards obtained in Card Death Machine, the cards which have been levelled through the board game mode are better and allow for easier progression through this mode. These make up the most endgame content seen in any of the series games to date.
What does the game credit is its incredible diverse look for each character and the aesthetic for the number of locations you come across. A visual novel of course relies heavily on telling it’s story through images and limited animation, because of this it is important to at the very least look good. Fortunately, the game looks great, its hand drawn art style combined with a wide colour palette is easy on the eyes and assists in setting the tone for every scene. Dark colours are used to amplify the message of despair, when all hope is lost and bad things are taking place.
The Danganronpa soundtrack is back and it is oh so good. Masafumi Takada returned to compose V3, many familiar tunes coming back with some new additions. Addictive, hard to get of your head, catchy, the music is all of these things and so much more. Capable of making me sing/hum/duh duh dun along with it all day along. Voice acting is present albeit limited, reserved for the class trials mainly and various scenes throughout. Many conversations will see characters say one word, give out a sigh or groan etc when they speak.
GAME DESIGN & INNOVATION: 9/10
It is more Danganronpa but with that extra polish and care into ensuring a great experience all around. Filled with characters that can capture the heart but also stab it too. Expect the unexpected and then nothing can surprise you. Every time I thought I knew who the culprit was the game throws a curve ball, I was constantly on the edge of my seat, figuratively not literally because I would have fallen off said seat. Its bursting at the seams with content which certainly make it a worthwhile investment.
OVERALL: 8.7/10 – GREAT
Reviewed by Rhys Baldwin.
(Disclaimer: CONQUEST received a review copy of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony on PS4, however this does not in any way affect the scoring of a game or our thoughts on the game itself. We believe in total honesty and being transparent with you.)