There isn’t a series quite like Danganronpa. I mean, there aren’t many series that can lay claim to be a Battle Royale-esque visual novel with elements of a dating sim, but here we are. Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony is largely a reboot of the series; which, given the comprehensive nature of the series’ mythology between two games, one spinoff game, and countless other media tie-ins, is a smart move. Some elements never change though. Over half a dozen talented high school students are kidnapped and forced to take part in a murder mystery – one hosted by the seemingly omnipotent robotic bear Monokuma, along with an accompanying quest for answers.
While the gameplay hasn’t substantially changed beyond tweaks to the class trials, the series has grown enough that it’s able to play with its own internal tropes. This applies to the player characters as well. For the sake of avoiding spoilers, I won’t elaborate with too much detail, but there’s a great deal of subversion worked against what you might bring over from the previous games. For example, there’s a specificity to Kaede Akamatsu: the Ultimate Pianist; as opposed to the by comparison more generalized protagonists of the previous two games. The game’s toying with the relationship dynamics between the characters is akin to the intentional inversions Danganronpa 2 played with on Danganronpa 1’s plot. For that matter Kazutaka Kodaka’s writing when it comes to mysteries has grown from the previous two entries of the series.
Having finished Chapter 1, the plot is far more resilient to scrutiny in regards to the identity of who the killer is, I personally didn’t figure it out until it was staring me right in the face, and the resulting shifts in the plot give me a great deal of hope for the rest of the game.
The gameplay itself has thankfully been streamlined as well. One of the more frustrating elements in the previous games was the difficulty in being able to repeat Free Time events (basically the relationship sim element/skill building) since it required going through a wall of plot replay in previous chapters. Danganronpa V3 fixes that by allowing you to directly replay Free Time events, which is a bigger help than one could imagine with this game. The other fixes come in the form of adjusting the controls to better fit a console control scheme (the previous games were intended for handhelds), as well as tweaks to mini-games like Hangman’s Gambit (no more worrying about letters colliding into each other!), and new games like Psyche Taxi. All of that leads to a fairly intense class trial even compared to previous games.
As one of the new changes, the Monokubs (while not as delightfully ineffectual as Monami in the previous game) are a pretty great addition, at least in creating a break between Monokuma himself and the players. I’ll still miss that annoying pink rabbit/bear though.
That being said: as someone who got into the series via the collection of the two previous games for the PS4, it’s definitely worth grabbing for either the PS4 or Vita. Thankfully the graphics (while not entirely important for a visual novel) are far more gorgeous compared to the previous games. Both the backgrounds and character designs look much better when coming from a TV screen, and the game is a good entry for someone who isn’t prepared for a deep dive into the Danganronpa mythology.
If you’re looking for a game that’s simultaneously hilarious, hopeful, and downright sadistic in equal measure, well buddy, is this the game for you.
Stay tuned to PCU, as we bring you reviews of the other chapters of the game in the coming weeks.
5 Exisals out of 5