Title: Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony
Genre: Interactive Visual Novel
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Publisher: NIS America
Release Date: September 26, 2017 (NA)
I would LOVE to do a segment on the story, however, this is one of those titles where I definitely don’t want to ruin it for everyone. Maybe in the future when it’s really eating at me… We shall see. The game has been released in Japan since the beginning of the year, but if you’ve stayed off the internet what happens will be, like all Danganronpa games, a twisted ride.
What I really enjoyed about the plot line is that it is not centered on Despair, rather, there’s an overwhelming theme of identifying the truth. Whether it be trusting what you see, political or religious beliefs, what is presented to you by the media and what you yourself experienced, there’s this underlying desire for truth and a need to uncover it through all the deceit around you. And yet, even if you reach a truth, there are many lies still circling around it.
Getting into the title felt difficult because the cast is initially off putting but as you go through the story, characters really start to grow on you. Heck, I even think Keebo is pretty cool. Character personalities tend to take a drastic turn, and while they develop to some extent, sometimes they fall flat into a character arch type.
Despite all the tragedies that occur in the killing game, there is still a good balance between humor and horror. With all the pop-culture and nerd references peppered throughout the game, there are still a few laughs mixed in with the tears. What? No… I didn’t cry!
With Danganronpa V3 Killing Harmony, gameplay is pretty much the same as previous titles, but with a few new twists. The pacing of the overall story is similar to past titles: Free time, Investigation, Class Trial. This is nice because you feel right at home in the Danganronpa world; you already have a good “feel” for the game. When you get into the class trials, you are prepared for all of the changes that will be thrown at you.
If V3 is the first title in the series you are picking up, tutorials will guide you through the debates. They are not overwhelming or excessively annoying.
The class trials run similar to previous games where you play mini-games to uncover the Blackened but most mechanics for the mini games have been upgraded. Non-stop debates offer more stylish text effects that can throw you off. Text also interferes more often with statements.
In addition to the basic non-stop debate, you have the ability to lie. This replaces taking a statement and using it against a classmate. I found the lying aspect to be humorous. Mostly because the protagonist is such a terrible liar!
Another addition to the non-stop debates are the Mass Panic debates. You need to find the inconsistency and shoot the contradictory statement… with three voices talking at once. Not only is there text flying in all directions, voices talk over one another. Throughout the Mass Panic Debates, sometimes one voice will be louder than others and will need to be shut down in order for you to hit a contradictory statement (if there is one present) from another speaker.
Hangman’s Gambit has evolved to Hangman’s Gambit Ver. 3.0. Instead of selecting visible letters floating across the screen, all letters are hidden. The board will occasionally light revealing the letters, but it is difficult to discern the word you are looking for without all given letters visible.
Psyche Taxi takes over Logic Dive. You must drive and hit letter blocks to reveal the question, then you pick a lane to answer it. This was my second least favorite mini-game. I had more fun and more of a challenge doing the Logic Dive from Danganronpa 2.
The Rebuttal Showdown, where you slice words with a sword, is still present but the controls have become more clunky and difficult to control. This is because you have to use your joystick to move the sword rather than the Vita touch screen. It was much easier to swipe the words away than to line your pointer up with the letters. This definitely made it much more challenging.
Argument Armament has replaced the Panic Talk Action. Argument Armament is the same concept, but also incorporates more rhythm game mechanics. Panic Talk Action was always my least favorite mini-game during class trails, so Argument Armament also takes the title for my least favorite mini-game of DRV3. I love rhythm games, however, I always struggle to find the beat or the right pattern for the debate which makes my timing completely off the mark. Argument Armament also “strips” the character down, so each successful hit takes off a layer of clothes… Do we really need to keep stripping down every damn anime character?
There are two mini games added: Mind Mine, where you will need to clear away all the blocks to reveal the board and select the correct object out of the three presented to you. There is also Scrum Debates. Scrum Debates happen when the class is divided in opinion. As the opposing side presents their argument, you need to find the keyword of their statement to counter their opinion.
What makes the mini-games more interesting compared to previous titles is the Casino. During Free Time you have a chance to visit the Casino and re-play some of the mini games. Plus you get the slot machine; it’s just like gambling in real life -you hardly win big! The coins you win from the mini-games can be exchanged for gifts. The Monomono machine is also still in the game.
I played this title on both consoles. While I definitely prefer the comfort of handheld systems, playing on the PS4 brought the game to life. Generally, visual novels aren’t graphically stimulating. Playing on the PS4 made a noticeable difference for class trials. The frame rate runs much faster, and the layers of characters and text make the scenes feel more interactive.
One thing that really jumps out is how bland the overall color scheme of the game is. Compared to previous titles where colors are vibrant and eye-catching, DRV3 uses a lot of blues and purples. I think this gives the game a darker tone, but also doesn’t make the title jump out the way its predecessors have.
What I love about Danganronpa is that when you hear the soundtrack, you definitely know you are playing a Danganronpa game. DRV3 brings in old favorites with a new mix that perfectly fits the overall tone for certain areas you explore.
PS4 VS Vita
I am always right at home on a handheld. I find it much easier to get into a game if I have the convenience of playing it wherever the heck I want to.
That being said, Danganronpa being available on the PS4 and Vita was something new. I haven’t really picked up visual novel titles for anything but a handheld and I always have a hard time getting into them if they’re not on a handheld system. However, I recommend playing Danganronpa on the PS4. Not only did I get a bigger screen to watch the action of Danganronpa unfold, the class trials really stood out as a new experience. Frame rates were much higher making the pointer a bit harder to control on the PlayStation 4 system, but the layered text effect and motion across the screen really made the game feel more up close and personal.
Of course, I still played the majority of the game on my Vita since I am out of the house more often than home but I definitely noticed the slight change in graphics and the slower frame rates made a huge difference in the overall feel of a class trial.
Keep in mind, if you can’t decide which system you want it for, buy the title for both consoles! It’s easy to cross save your game and switch between portable and stationary.
Pros: Sprinkled with humorous pop culture references and being the same ol’ killing game we all love, DRV3 always keeps you guessing until the very end. You’ll laugh; you’ll cry; and maybe you’ll sit in disbelief for an hour because how could that character die?! Despite this being the 3rd entry of the High School Killing game (Despair Girls and Future Foundation don’t count) there are still many surprises thrown at you. Even if you know the formula, from beginning to end you still can’t predict what will happen next.
There are plenty of new game play styles for class trials. I think developeres did an excellent job making something feel old, yet still be entirely new.
Graphics on the PS4 give you a different game play experience compared to a handheld, but cross saving options will let you jump back and forth between systems. That is, if you want to throw down the extra cash.
Cons: This is mostly my fan opinion, but this is my least favorite entry to the series. Characters were difficult to warm up to and fell flat in the end. The ending didn’t feel quite as moving as previous games.
During class trials, the pointer can be extremely difficult to control. Being unable to control the cursor made some class trial aspects feel tedious and just straight up annoying.
The color scheme is muted, so the title does not pop in ways the previous titles have.
I would love to give Danganronpa a 10, but I am going to have to take it down to an 8. Characters were hard to warm up to, the story doesn’t feel entirely compelling, and while some of the mini-games have been upgraded some of the controls felt clunky.
This is a must-have for all Danganronpa fans. Not only do you see what is happening in the Danganronpa world but also because of how the game itself has evolved as far as mechanics and story.
Which is your favorite title in the Danganronpa series? Have you picked up V3 yet? Have you encountered anything that took you completely by surprise? Let us know in the comments.