- A big thanks to Spike Chunsoft Co and NIS America, Inc. for providing a PlayStation 4 edition key of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony in exchange for a review.
- Disclaimer: Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony (DRv3) contains major spoilers to Trigger Happy Havoc Danganronpa and Danganronpa 2 Goodbye Despair. It is advised to play the previous games.
- The following pictures are taken from the Steam PC screenshot gallery as I was having difficulty getting screenshots on the Playstation 4.
This review is divided into two seperate pages: A comprehensive look into DRv3 and the Beyond the Review: My Final Thoughts on DRV3. The second page reviews the ending of DRV3 in great detail, readers discretion is advised.
I’ve been a long-time fan of Danganronpa since its inception. Engrossed by its first anime release, Danganronpa: The Animation, I went further down the rabbit hole of despair that is the entirety of the Danganronpa series. It’s no wonder that when a new Danganronpa game was announced, I felt an immense surge to grab the opportunity to play and review a game I enjoy. Highly anticipated by me and other fans alike, here comes: Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony.
Set in a deteriorating yet futuristic school grounds, 16 highschool boys and girls are forced to participate in a killing game until two people remain. Sadly, they can’t remember anything about their capture other than their Ultimate Talent. To make matters worse, a talking robot bear called Monokuma states the only way to leave is to commit a murder and not get caught in a class trial.
Following the first murder, subsequent victims appear and in order to escape the killing game, the students must face Monokuma and its unfair rules. Investigating scenes and gathering clues, everyone works together to bring each case to light by using class trials to bring the victims’ killers to light- even if it results in their gruesome execution.
As the protagonist, your main goal is to retrieve your lost memories and work together with your friends to stop the Killing Game. Piecing together the mysteries of the Ultimate Academy for Gifted Juveniles, you must deduce who the mastermind is while solving murders in the form of class trials. An interesting plot that paves the way for basic mechanics in DRV3.
Following the same chapter progression seen in previous games, DRV3 starts from Exploration to Free Time Interaction, Investigation and ends in the Class Trial.
Playing from first person perspective, you can explore the school and interact with multiple characters and objects at your leisure. Doing so will progress the plot which unlocks new areas previously inaccessible. Moving around is much like any RPG game- arrow keys to move and symbol buttons to engage with the environment around you.
A new function was added as well, allowing players to run while holding the L1 bumper button. Alongside this function, multiple minigames have been added while older ones were revamped. To my surprise, I feel these mechanical changes to Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony added much-needed polish and intricacy that previous games severely lacked.
My reaction to being offered the ability to lie in a class trial was shock. Never before has there been a function to lie during a class trial.
As its name implies, a Lie Bullet appears as an inverted negative effect on the screen. Adding on to that, blinking sketchy eyes surround the sides of the screen with a sound of a loud, mechanical screech. Creepy visual effects symbolize the negative connotations that Lie Bullets carry the weight of committing Perjury in a court of law. By pressing and holding the triangle button, you can shoot a Lie Bullet during a Non-Stop Debate segment to support your arguments.
Unlike past games where you refute witness testimonies by solely using Truth Bullets- based on honest evidence, Lie Bullets encourage you to twist the truth as you see fit. By turning evidence into a Lie Bullet, you can control and influence vital points of discussion which are crucial in solving a case. Using Lie Bullets beyond what is necessary in the game allows players to experience alternate routes that can’t be reached by being honest when refuting evidence.
Reflecting on my experience, it was fun seeing the protagonist single-handedly progress a case by lying. A gratifying reward for players that can see plausible theories and exploit concrete evidence, manipulating them to compliment your deduction.
Split Opinion (Debate Scrum)
Picture a Non-Stop Debate happening except, instead of being on your own, you have your friends’ claims backing you up. Now, add characters into the mix that oppose your group’s opinion. Standing at opposite ends of the court you find both groups can’t reach a compromise. This is where Split Opinion (Debate Scrum) comes in.
All students (including you) are divided into two separate groups to assert vital information crucial to what each group believes in. One by one, each student goes through their arguments in support for the majority opinion. Players aim to listen to the opposing group’s claims and refute them by matching key words that counter their reasoning. After all key words are matched, the Split Opinion (Debate Scrum) reaches its finale with you and your group launching a Full Counter to dispute the opposing team’s opinion. This is done through button mashing different symbols that appear on the game screen.
Debate Scrums bring a new and refreshing way to counter arguments in class trials. By reviewing each person’s statement, being able to connect the dots with a rebuttal provides players with satisfying gameplay.
In the past, there was no freedom of choice in voting for a suspected culprit in a class trial. Once the true culprit was revealed, the player selects the culprit to conclude the case. All the students in the trial will always agree to your choice despite some voicing their disagreements. Now with Voting Time, players can choose who they want to out as the culprit. The game even goes as far as to show the percentage of votes that go towards each person.
Despite this new feature, I feel this only gives the illusion of choice as most of the story progresses normally even if you voted for someone who isn’t the culprit.
Mass Panic Debate
Chaos ensues as characters argue over who is innocent, guilty or in support of a fellow classmate. A red colour scheme engulfs the screen as three characters argue their points at the same time.
I find Mass Panic Debate quite challenging at times as it’s hard to listen to the right testimonies when there are multiple people talking. In essence, it’s similar to playing against three Non Stop Debates happening at the same time. On top of that, their voices on top of each other drown their points out, making it hard to discern contradictions in a person’s statement.
Minigames (Mind Mine, Psyche Taxi, Hangman’s Gambit, Argument Armament, Monokuma Slots)
I decided to group all the mini-games into a small section. I feel these mini-games don’t really fall into a category that the rest do in a case trial. These mini games often don’t make sense in comparison to the reality of debating in a class trial but are still fun nonetheless.
Psyche Taxi is similar to a Logic Dive but instead of snowboarding, you take control of a taxi and aim to catch letters to reveal questions. The controls of the taxi felt smooth and the bright visual effects make it fast paced and entertaining.
The dreaded Hangman’s Gambit that everyone previously had a gripe with. Thankfully, this was changed immensely in DRV3. The mechanic of having to catch and combine single letters together to form the key word has been completely removed. Instead, Hangman’s Gambit works by choosing letters that correspond to your educated guess to what the key word is and selecting it only once.
Mind Mine involves matching coloured blocks together in order to reveal evidence crucial to the case. The rest of the games are similar to the previous games such as the rhythm game Argument Armament.
Overall, these games are easy to pick up and understand. DRV3 has shown definite improvement in making their games more intuitive and fun to play.
The audio for DRV3 was executed well by Masafumi Takada, adding tension and drama at critical points during each chapter. From playing DRV3, I felt the Debate Scrum OST is the best soundtrack in the game- an upbeat song that carries the hype accompanied by the epic moment of two opposing claims clashing in a class trial.
My second favourite would probably be the Hangman’s Gambit OST. Other than that, most of the songs in the game were rehashed versions from previous games to imprint the signature Danganronpa songs.
The official Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony soundtrack is available for purchase in iTunes.
Compared to previous games, I feel DRV3 has improved in its graphics while maintaining its signature style. The executions in DRV3 feel much more brutal combined with the ‘pink blood‘ art style known in Danganronpa games.
The character designs are spot on as well, with most of the main cast having uniquely inspired outfits and different body shapes. My favourite character design would probably be Angie Yonaga’s outfit; trendy and befitting an artist. Overall, I feel the high quality visuals of the statements in the class trials and the environment makes DRV3 an enjoyable game to play.
Successes and Shortcomings
True to Danganronpa fashion, it hosts a colourful cast of characters that appeal to fans, similar to its previous games. Its latest additions of Lie Bullets and Split Opinion is a good choice and I really enjoyed the way those game modes played out from its new mechanics and upbeat music to its intuitive controls. I feel fans of the previous games should pick up a copy of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony.
While the game stays true to the playstyle of the Danganronpa Series, it’s not without shortcomings. The mini-games for me still feel uninspiring and too convoluted. To give a fair comparison, the Psyche Locks in Ace Attorney act as psychological barriers to keep their secrets hidden away. Although breaking Psyche Locks are in the form of a mini-game, its metaphorical aspect makes sense in reality; breaking down a person’s mental walls by providing concrete evidence that reveals their secrets.
Meanwhile, driving a taxi in search of the right question to bring the trial to a close seems unrealistic. In addition, we also have a rhythm game in the form of Argument Armament and Mind Mine- a puzzle game that reveals the murder weapon. Both these games have little relevance to finding the truth in a realistic way.
Although these games are simplistic, they are still enjoyable to play with their colourful graphics, intuitive controls and the way the main story plot maintains the mini-games entertainment value.
- Stunning Visuals and Audio that embody the unmistakable style of Danganronpa
- Satisfying character development throughout each chapter as the main cast feels tight knit compared to previous games
- Fans of Trigger Happy Havoc Danganronpa and Danganronpa 2 Goodbye Despair will definitely enjoy playing Danganronpa v3: Killing Harmony as they improved its gameplay mechanics.
- Obtaining Monocoins is easier compared to previous games
- Minigames are uninspired and have no relation to the proceedings of a class trial.
- Animation at a certain scene early in the game was lazily done.
- Hidden Monokuma collectables are quite hard to spot.
- Chapter progression feels slow in comparison to previous games.
Main Storyline: 10/10
Mechanics of the Game: 8/10
Audio: Hyped trial music 8/10
Visuals: Same style but better graphics 8/10
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony is available on Playstation 4 and Steam. The Australian Official Release: October 6th, 2017. Pick up your own copy today!
Please Note: The next page of this article contains spoilers to the ending of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony.
Read at your own discretion.