Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Review: Danganronpa V3 Killing Harmony

Note: I'm still wading through the blood in the meat of DV3KH, and you can't take screenshots past the first chapter, so this review should be pretty spoiler free.

Review: Damn, that's one long prologue, Danganronpa V3 immediately feels like a beefier game than its predecessors, allowing you to explore more of the Ultimate School and meet a new generation of classmates who will soon be doing dirty deeds to each other. The game is certainly better and sharper looking too!

The long intro isn't helped by the charmless antics of the Monokub bears as they pop in and out to intercede. That's before the one-and-only Monokuma shows up to start proceedings properly. At least he has the decency to mock the length of the game's intro!

In between all the tutorials, we find the usual bat-shit crazy Ultimate this, that and other students. Around the school, there's lots of places for murdering to be done, and plenty of tools for job. If you've never played a Danganronpa game before, then it makes for a useful if extended intro, navigating the halls, using the map properly, looking for clues and guessing what will happen next.

Then, the diabolical plans come into play as the 16 students get the obvious "here's an easy escape route" out of their systems, via a neat 2D platform mini-game. They bunk in for the night and wonder how they will get out of the Academy sealed inside a very massive budgie cage, alive.

On with the killing

The first death and the ensuing class trial thankfully pick up the pace. Once the crime has been discovered, you learn to use the Focus View to see what's important in a room, clicking on everything is essential to progressing the story, sometimes more than once as views, people and rooms change.

Without giving too much away, it is easy to see where the various avenues of investigation fall down or stand up, especially if you've ever played a previous version or seen an episode of Dexter or CSI. Evidence and stories are gathered as Truth Bullets, with a smattering of dark humour, funny discoveries and huge amounts of cod emoting from the cast of increasingly defensive characters.

There are characters you will love, those that you hate, but most have dark histories that can skew your loyalties one way, then the other. Danganronpa remains one of the few games that can put you through such an emotional rollercoaster, even if the over-acting will take the edge off for some.


Then we're off to the trial, the one bit of the series I really don't like, with its increasingly infuriating truth bullets and seemingly random word blasting. This long, drawn out process of elimination is often confusing and badly-explained, especially at the higher difficulty levels and is definitely a trial to get through. The new games don't really add much other than variety, Scrum Debates feel pointless with the whole class shouting at each other, the rhythm section feels out of place, while the car racing Psyche Taxi game could make a good freebie title in its own right.

Trial by twists, and twisted by the trial

The further you get into the story, the deeper the plots the become, with more clues, more lies and deceit, and the body count soon mounts up. There's a neat retro trip into virtual reality, and a lesson in game coding, but it all ends up at the trials which more complicated as the numbers thin out, and the twists come thick and fast. It is easy to feel overwhelmed at times, but speeding through the pleas, anger and denial means you lose some of the raw edge to the game, so I recommend persevering and taking your finger off the advance button.

Between the trials, there's a little personal time where you can get to know your classmates better and befriend them with gifts, but that's always felt a rather tacked-on part of the series.

There are a few annoyances in D3, most of which run through the series. Primarily that if you investigate things randomly, then some of the information appears out of sequence. It always seems best to talk to people first, then look at the evidence, but that removes some of the freedom to explore how you like.


Then there are the annoying trial games, especially at the higher difficulty levels, even with the gimmicks and assists it offers. I'd be delighted if there was an option just to fill out the comic strip timeline, the last act of any trial, as a substitute for someone who just wants to play through the story.

However, the game is held together by its gut-shredding plot, some clever/annoying twists in the later rounds, capped by the gruesome finales and that stomach-churning need to know who will come out at the end. With superb, lunatic, character design, the game holds its charm, while the vivid, lurid, colours in the world help Danganronpa V3 rivet itself to your eyeballs.

Price: £TBC Amazon UK, $39.99 Amazon US, PSN: TBC
More reviews
Score: 9/10
Dev: Spike Chunsoft
Size: 3GB
Progress: Then there were five, and one was very mad


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