Before diving head first into our Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony review, it’s important to state a few things. Number one. We will not be spoiling anything related to the narrative of the game in this review. Therefore, this is going to be a very general and fact-related review. Number two. It’s absolutely imperative that you play through the first two Danganronpa games before this one in order to actually understand what is going on. There is a massive amount of world building found within those two games, which would leave newcomers completely lost if they tried to jump straight in with this release. Number three. For our video review, we decided to use stock trailer footage officially released by NIS America for a few different reasons, but the two biggest are again.. we don’t want to spoil anything not already shown by NISA, and you can’t reveal anything after the first class trial starts anyway, so that doesn’t leave a whole lot of room in terms of footage available. Read on for our full Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony review.
Title: Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Available On: PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, PC
Reviewed On: PlayStation 4 Pro
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Game Provided by the Publisher for the Sake of This Review
The concept of Danganronpa V3 is very similar to the previous two main entries in the franchise. Through an encouragement system establishing by the government, those with a certain skill or the ability to excel in a particular area gets an Ultimate title bestowed upon them. We have been introduced to several of these students through the first two games, and V3 is no different, with its cast of sixteen new Ultimates inside the new Ultimate Academy for Gifted Juveniles. The main hook established before, the killing game brought on by Monokuma and the mastermind, is back and better than ever. However, we are also introduced to the Monokubs, which add a whole new layer of insanity and unbearable puns (see what we did there?) to the dialogue.
Those unfamiliar with Danganronpa.. seriously.. go play the other games and then come back to this one in the future when you’re all caught up. But if you insist on moving forward, know that Danganronpa is part Phoenix Wright, part visual novel, and part everyday life simulator, complete with intimate moments and the chance to hang out with your fellow classmates and friends. The cast of characters present for this entry are as strong as ever, and we especially like that they cast the player into the role of a female protagonist once again after getting to play as Komaru Naegi and Toko Fukawa in Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls.
Thankfully, Killing Harmony maintains the gameplay elements fans have come to love and expect from the series, while adding in a plethora of new content to experience. In a similar style to previous games, players will once again walk around the campus and halls of the Academy, talking with fellow Ultimates and trying to find a way to escape and learn what is going on during free time and narrative-driven portions of the game. Free time is also when you can choose to spend time with certain classmates in order to learn more about them, including giving them presents purchased with Monokuma Coins at the school store. Because this is a killing game like before, whenever a murder takes place, the game shifts into detective mode, and eventually this all boils down into the Class Trials, which is where the main fun of the game can be had.
This is probably where the biggest overhaul in terms of the Danganronpa series took place for V3. We now have a bunch of new gameplay mechanics to use during the Class Trials, and a handful of new mini-games to play in order to uncover the truth and find out who the guilty party actually is. Some of these mini-games include Hangman’s Gambit Version 3.0, Theory Armament (which is a rhythm game), Debate Scrum (which is a team-based debate game), Mind Mine (which is a puzzle game where the object is to turn over blocks and match colors), Psyche Taxi (which has you driving a car in order to collect letters and eventually choose a path to answer a question), and Mass Panic Debate (which is similar to Non-Stop Debate, but this version has multiple characters talking all at the same time and is hectic). Lie Bullets have also been introduced alongside Truth Bullets, allowing players the ability to lie during debates for the first time in the series.
You get extremely attached to these characters, and seeing murders happen throughout the game, and then finding out who was pushing into committing that murder, can be troublesome, especially when one of your favorites ends up being the victim. The execution moments in Danganronpa V3 are also some of the goriest and brutal seen to date, but they are handled extremely well, thanks in part to the graphics engine getting a major overhaul. Seriously. Killing Harmony is the best looking game to date in the series, and the soundtrack is superb as always.
If you are a fan of Danganronpa, you’re in for a treat. This is without a doubt an excellent continuation for the story and the characters, and as a nice little bonus, it’s also the longest game in the franchise so far. If you managed to get through this entire review and you haven’t played a game in the series yet, again, it’s very important that you start with the first, which is Trigger Happy Havoc. From there, work your way up until eventually getting back to Killing Harmony. Doing so will allow you to really appreciate what Spike Chunsoft has achieved in this masterful example of storytelling and character building. Only one question remains at this point. How long must we wait until the next entry of Danganronpa?