A winning formula

Danganronpa is a series that I wasn’t familiar with until recently this year when NIS America brought over the first two titles in a re-release bundle on the PlayStation 4. Getting them to review back then, I wasn’t sure how I would fair with the first two as they seemed like basic visual novels with minimal gameplay attached to them. I did play through them though and was addicted right from the outset, due to the strong story on offer and the trials were fun to play. The third installment has arrived with Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, and it’s clear to see that although they’ve stuck with the same formula, it’s a winning one at that.

If you have played any of the first two Danganronpa titles, the back story for V3 should make sense to you. If you haven’t, that is still completely fine as you’ll soon get the overall jist of the story. Monokuma is back with his killing ways, but this time he’s not alone! He has brought along his Monokubs with him in order to aid him cause absolute havoc. Without spoiling anything in the story, it bases around a group of students who have been kidnapped and sent to a strange location. Survival is key, and the students will have to grin and bear (Monokuma puns FTW!) it. I will give you a bit of advice, do not attach yourself with any ‘favourite’ characters too much, as you’ll often find that their dead body is presented to you in only the next chapter. Sigh!

One thing that I really loved about the first two games in the series was the approach to the overall story, they were both written exceptionally well. It’s no different here, with Spike Chunsoft doing an amazing job. Although it’s more about reading and understanding rather than playing, I felt myself really enjoying the story. I would say that because I played the first two games in the series before-hand, what was happening in the story became a little ‘seen it before’ kind of thing. What is impressive is the tone of the story however. You can be laughing at something a student or a Monokub has said one minute, but the game isn’t afraid to flip the coin to a more serious approach at looking at overall human behavior.

You’re main gameplay come in the form of the trials. This is the exciting bit and the part where you can find out who is responsible for the death in that particular chapter. Much like the other games in the series, you have to find out who is lying and pick their lies out against the rest. However, in a turn for the sinister, the game now allows you to lie, letting you make everyone believe your lies. Also, there’s also a welcome approach for new mini-games in the series. These aren’t hard, but it changes it up from what we have seen before. For example, you have a driving mini-game where you have to drive over letters to spell out questions.

There is also a ‘Scrum Debate’ which acts like a game of tennis. You have two teams and you’ll be firing statements at each other. These are little things but some nice touches overall. I’d have liked the developers to be more brave and completely turn things on its head in terms of how the trials pan out etc, but hopefully we will get that if or when there will be a Danganronpa 4.

There is not much more really to say, without spoiling the story too much and I really don’t want to do that. The story is around 30 hours long, but those 30 hours do really seem to go quick if you are invested to the story. What is good is that you have a ‘core’ characters who do most of the talking. The previous games, it would be hard to keep up on who was saying what, but most of the students seem to keep quiet for the most part, which is a relief when you are trying to work out who has done what.

Overall, Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony is another Danganronpa title that can be seen as a success. Because I played the originals, I felt that I didn’t get that ‘first-time’ experience with V3 because I knew what was coming. I’d like Spike Chunsoft to really step it up and give us something we haven’t seen before if he proceeds with a new game, as Danganronpa as a whole is really good, but maybe needs a new direction.