Danganronpa v3: Killing Harmony Review

The greatest bear in video games is back. The black and white knight of hope and despair, Monokuma, is yet again pitting 16 Ultimate students in a killing game, against not just himself but against each other.

Danganronpa v3: Killing Harmony is the third Danganronpa game to follow the visual novel format and like the previous games in the series, allows players to explore the environment of their unescapable surroundings and perform in class trials to discover who killed who and why.

The game sees you control Kaede Akamatsu, the Ultimate Pianist and first female protagonist in the main series of games. As Kaede, you’ll follow the narrative through mostly text-driven cutscenes – interspersed at times with voice work – before being given control from a first-person point-of-view to find puzzles and characters around the environment.

Once the killing starts, you’ll be tasked with investigating crime scenes in a point and click style to build up a bank of clues which you can use during class trials. It’s in these sections of the game where all your detective work will be used. During the trials, you’ll use truth bullets to cut through the arguments and points of others, sending text across the screen to cut up the words of others appear, shattering their thoughts like a bullet smashing through glass. It’s a visual way of dispelling an argument and, like in past Danganronpa games, it works.

There have been some new additions to class trials though, the ability to lie in order to move the discussion in a different direction and saying things that are at odds with the evidence at hand mix things up and give you greater options. However, the game will always want you to say and shoot truth bullets in a specific way. At times you may find that you know how to counteract an argument but must root through your evidence to counter the specific phrase or word the game wants you to. It’s an issue the past games had and it hasn’t been fixed this time around, unfortunately. It never hampered my progress for too long but there’s no doubt that it slowed my playthrough.

After the class trial is complete and the ‘blackened’ (as the game profoundly puts it) has been caught, they will be punished and the game will throw you back to its narrative-driven ways until the next murder and ensuing investigation commence. Then it’s rinse and repeat. The format will quickly become familiar and if the game didn’t twist and turn at every point then it would become quite repetitive.

One of Danganronpa’s best traits is within its story though and v3 is no different. It takes a while to get going but yet again it contains a narrative that is so convoluted that it’s magnificent in its execution, especially the ending to Chapter 1, which contains a plot shift that rivals that of any game in this series or any other. It was a joy to watch the first class trial (a tutorial of how to play the game) slowly reveal the true killer and then leave you with the option to confirm what it’s been hinting at without actually flat out revealing it.

Despite that, Danganronpa won’t be to everyone’s tastes. Its text-heavy narrative will immediately drive off numerous players as it’s a few hours before anything meaningful really happens. There also isn’t too much in the way of gameplay either. You can complete small puzzles at times, play slots in the casino to earn tokens to buy other students presents and, that’s really it.

Danganronpa v3 isn’t for everyone and it’s not designed to be. If you love visual novels like Zero Escape and Steins;Gate then it’s likely you’re already aware of Danganronpa, and if so, you’re probably already buying v3. If not, then it’s advisable to start with the first two games in the series.

Danganronpa v3: Killing Harmony Review Conclusion

Dangaonrpa v3 is a magnificent narrative-driven game that’s quality is just as high as the previous two main games in the series. It delights, it surprises and, most importantly, it delivers on everything it sets out to.

4/5

We tested both the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita versions after receiving review codes from the publisher.

Danganronpa v3: Killing Harmony is available for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita on September 29th.

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