When Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony was revealed, I was apprehensive as the stories that began in Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair finally came to a close in the Danganronpa 3 anime. Thankfully, Danganronpa V3 freshens up the series with new characters and mechanics, and a jaw-dropping first case.
Don’t you worry, readers, because I have no intention of spoiling any of the game for you. I will talk about the setup of the game though, and our new protagonist Kaede Akamatsu. Previous games are referenced and Monokuma being present means that this takes place in the same world as previous games (and the anime), but for the most part this is a standalone story which expands the overall Danganronpa lore.
Sixteen ultimate students find themselves kidnapped and trapped in the “Ultimate Academy for Gifted Juveniles”, where they’re forced to participate in a “killing game” so that they’re able to escape. If murders don’t occur in a timely fashion that’s to Monokuma’s liking, then everybody will be killed anyway. If you, like me, were worried about if a new Danganronpa game could be as good as the others then let those worries be put to rest, because this entry could possibly be the best one to date. It’s the one that’s shocked me most, for certain!
The core gameplay is the same in that you have free time to bond with other characters, murders to investigate and class trials where you need to find out who the murderer is, and it’s hard to tear yourself away once you’ve started a new chapter. Danganronpa V3 boasts a colourful, unique cast and so picking who you spend your free time with can be a little difficult, especially as any of them could be dead soon. I had a handful of favourites I chose to spend my time with though, and a few I just couldn’t warm up to because, well, they’re not very good people, really.
A few new elements have been included with a bunch of new mini-games during class trials being the most notable. There’s a mindsweeper-inspired game, a driving game where you need to collect letters and answer questions correctly, and a rhythm-battle game similar to ones that were included in previous games — the difference here is you’re chipping away some cool-looking and personalised armour to expose the murderer.
Interestingly, you can also lie and agree with statements now, giving you more to do than just pointing out contradictions. There’s a lot more to wrap your head around this time, but you’ll come to grips with them quickly. Just know that they work well and don’t make the game feel bloated in any way! Of course, there’s a free time mode after you’ve finished the story so you can make the most of your time with everyone. There’s a couple of other fun modes too, but I’ll let you get to those once you’ve completed the game.
This is the first Danganronpa game made for both PS4 and Vita at launch, and it looks much nicer on PS4 than the Danganronpa Reload collection. Creative character designs come to life with crisp, high quality 2D sprites, and the 2D environments are detailed for the most part — some items seem a little blurry, but overall it’s far better than the notably low quality environments of the previous PS4 ports. I had a chance to try it out on Vita too, and it seems to look and perform incredibly well on the little handheld. You can’t go wrong with either version.
Danganronpa has always excelled when it comes to character design, and each character’s looks accurately depict their personality. It’s a gorgeous, incredibly stylish game, and its CG images, dynamic class trials and art provide a feast for the eyes. I had to fiddle around with the audio options a little so that the music wasn’t overwhelming the fantastic voice-acting and, as expected, the soundtrack is amazing. A bunch of remixed tracks and new tracks come together for the future of the series, and they’re as electronic and catchy as ever.
Danganronpa V3 will shock you with its clever twists and turns every step of the way, and it had me wholly engrossed. The new cast are brilliant, the cases are heart-breaking and complex, and the story rarely gives you time to breathe. It’s a whirlwind of emotion that only you can solve, and it won’t make it easy for you. If you were worried that Danganronpa should’ve ended with the anime, then you’ll be happy to know that Danganronpa V3 is the strongest entry yet. What’s next for the series, you ask? Well, you’ll need to play and find out.