Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony is a game lovingly crafted for Danganronpa fans, and it brings all the fun of a new killing game with a fresh group of faces and story. It is not perfect, but it may be the most amazing entry in the Danganronpa series that I could have ever imagined. Read on to see why this is the ultimate experience, and try not to be robophobic, OK?
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony starts with a new group of high school students trapped in a terrifying killing game. Each of them starts as a flat archetype at first, known only for their ultimate talent. Everyone has been chosen, because they are the best at what they do from the ultimate magician to the ultimate pianist.
They learn the truth that they are stuck in a mysterious school forever with this group of strangers, but that is not the worst part. If they want to leave, they have to kill one of their fellow students and manage to keep their crime hidden during the class trial that follows. If the class votes for someone else, they get to leave the school, and everyone else dies. If they are discovered, they will be executed in a horrifically creative way and the killing game will continue.
This is unbelievable enough, but this message is delivered by Monokuma, a robotic teddy bear who quickly swings between friendly malice and unrestrained madness. This time, he has brought his five Monokubs along with him. They are his children, and each of them helps to maintain his dictatorial rule through force and the use of large mechs known as Exisals. Their personalities are just as outlandish as Monokuma’s, so the apple does not fall far from that twisted tree.
Just like the previous entries, the visual novel is split into two very different parts. Daily life is an opportunity for you to explore new areas in the school grounds and talk to your fellow students. You can spend time with them, and, by giving them gifts, you can start to dig beneath the surface and learn more about the person. Some people are so much more interesting than they first appear, and you can earn new skills for the trial if you max out the relationship.
Unfortunately, not everyone wants to be trapped and sing Kumbaya with a bunch of strangers for eternity. When a body is discovered, an investigation begins to determine the killer. You will examine the body and locations for clues, and you will talk to others to provide evidence for the upcoming trial.
The trial lets you use that evidence to refute, agree, and even lie to find the real killer. It is much more lively and intense compared to the more relaxing daily life part of the game. The collected evidence is displayed as truth bullets that you can shoot at different statements and help to move the trial forward by uncovering what really happened until you can recreate the series of events. Even if I had more than just an inkling of the truth, I was always surprised by the eventual outcome.
Beyond the nonstop debates, there are other games to help with a little variety in determining the truth. Psyche Taxi has you driving a car and hitting letter blocks to reveal a question. You answer the question by hitting the right female escort on the road and knocking her into your car. One game will briefly show you letters, and you will have to select the right ones to figure out the hidden words. Another game has you removing blocks by matching the colors to reveal the right selection. With an assortment of games to play, I never felt like anything was ever used too much.
Once the trial has come to a conclusion and you have all the information to correctly choose the right sequence of events, everyone will vote for the killer, and that person will be executed. In Danganronpa V3, the executions are even more cruel and unusual that previous games. The punishments in the second and third trial were some of the most devious and jaw-dropping in the series.
It is not all murder and punishments, the real star of any Danganronpa is its story, characters, and writing. This time, the story takes a little bit longer to really get going, but try to “bear” with it. The dialogue even slyly references how long it is taking, but, once it sets the foundation, it builds to an explosive conclusion that will surprise even the smartest fan.
That story would be nothing without a kooky cast of characters, and V3 delivers a new crop of students from a weak robot, a foul-mouthed inventor, the ultimate cosplayer, and even an astronaut. All of them are unique and larger-than-life, so it is great to watch them interact. Get to know them, and you will see so much more depth than you first thought.
The writing is also some of the best and the most subversive in the series. It seems like everyone just decided that they would try to put anything in the game, and it works really well for Danganronpa. The same dark humor and dirty jokes are scattered everywhere, but they are joined with references to movies, anime, music, previous games, and 4th wall-breaking jokes. The dialog and mysteries are clever. This is the most Danganronpa of the Danganronpa games, and I laughed and smiled a lot while playing.
The visuals and music are also excellent with a unique style injected into everything from the menus to the CG sequences. I played this on the PS4, and the visuals were crisp and had the trademark cardboard cutouts for characters with bright colors everywhere. The art style is just another place where realism is thrown out the window, and it has never looked better.
For sound, I enjoyed the new takes on previous musical themes as well as some of the old themes. Although it may not be my personal favorite in the series, the new songs are great. The voice acting was top-notch, but, as in previous games, you will still read most of the dialog.
I do have a couple of minor issues. As I mentioned, the beginning takes too long to get started, and the ending could have been just a bit shorter. I found myself liking the Monokubs more by the end, but I still wanted Monokuma to be more of the primary villain.
Finally, since this is a game made for both the PS4 and the PS Vita, you will encounter more loading screens than you might expect. They are very quick, but you will hit many of them if you walk around instead of fast travelling to your destination. The upside is that you can save almost anywhere, and I enjoyed this feature immensely.
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony combines everything you loved about the previous games, and it takes those ideas even farther. The executions are more shocking, the dialog, story, and characters are zanier, and the ending turns everything you know on its head with some brilliant mechanics and a stunning conclusion while keeping all of its disparate parts working together. After the main story has been completed, you can enjoy a board game or even a dating game with the other characters. If you are a Danganronpa fan, you need to play Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony.
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony PS4 Review
Overall - Fantastic - 8.5/10
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony takes the best ideas in the series, runs wild with them, and manages to create a new killing game that still feels fresh while satisfying fans. The production values are the highest in the series, and, even though the game takes a little longer to get going, the journey and final conclusion are amazing. Although I would not recommend it to someone new to the series, if you have enjoyed Danganronpa games in the past, this one should not be missed.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using base PS4.