Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony (PS Vita) Review

By Az Elias 15.10.2017 2

Review for Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony on PS Vita

Spike Chunsoft may have ended the original Danganronpa story arc in ridiculous fashion by concluding everything in an anime that passed a large portion of the fan base by, but that doesn't mean the killing games are over - far from it. Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony presents itself as a clean slate, removed from the previous iterations, with a host of fresh-faced students unaware that the academy they are a part of will become the location for a new round of murder, truth and lies, and hope and despair.

The biggest worry for Danganronpa V3 would had to have been how to ensure it stays entertaining despite being the third entry, retaining the same basic premise and format. Sixteen high-school students are trapped in an enclosed academy and forced to participate in a game of death; killings must occur, the innocents must deduce who the culprits are in class trials, and the games continue until just two participants remain, effectively "graduating" from the school.

It is all very familiar - taking more than a few cues from the first Danganronpa - but remarkably, V3 holds its own extremely well, even to the point that it comes pretty close to being just as good as the original title… for the majority of chapters, at least.

Even from the get-go, there is clearly some strange stuff going on that is bigger than what is on the surface, but the core of the game - the murder mysteries and the class trials - is full of absorbing and captivating twists and turns, including from the first chapter. This is only successful because of the great characters, of which just about every one of them is compelling in their own special way, whether it is Miu's apathetic and filthy mouth, Kokichi's dastardly tricks and lies, or Kaito's uplifting nature. The flipside of this is that each murder is tragic - just about every chapter leads to a beloved character being lost.

Screenshot for Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony on PS Vita

The writing is mostly great, with plenty of heart-breaking and comical moments, but some localisation decisions have led to certain problems - not just in characters having important dialogue altered from the Japanese in some way, but also through edits to CG art that ends up conflicting with murder cases. Some offensive words have wormed their way into the translation, and there are outdated views that are the work of the original writers, but these are generally few and far between, and the overall writing and English text and voice acting is top draw (although one or two high-pitched voices are a little grating, including Monokuma in the early stages).

Characters develop well over the course of the game - provided they remain in the killing games long enough - and they become tangled up in continually bizarre and outlandish scenarios. Murder investigations themselves are some of the most difficult to work out before the trials begin - and even right up till they end, in many cases. The curveballs and revelations continue to keep you guessing. Trials don't get overly difficult, but some trial and error is necessary on occasions where things aren't obvious, and it can sometimes feel a little pedestrian - this is a visual novel primarily, after all - however, the entertainment values are always there, as the enjoyment comes in reaching the conclusions of each case.

Screenshot for Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony on PS Vita

Little has changed from previous titles when it comes to the general flow. Walk around the academy during free time periods and get to know some of the students, with story developments progressing after a fixed number of free time sections. A murder will soon follow, with a point and click-style investigation period, where clues used for the trials are obtained. The class trial to solve the case will commence, at which point discussion amongst the participants of the killing games and minigames occur in order to reach the truth.

Minigames are mostly ones seen before, including selecting the correct truth bullet and firing it at words and phrases that contradict something. Other minigames include a form of hangman to decipher a key word (or words), some rhythm-like games to fight off arguments, a driving game where the goal is to collect boxes to form questions and then drive through the correct answers, and a simple puzzle game of shooting blocks to reveal images relating to the case. Once the conclusion draws near, it's a case of piecing everything together in a timeline of events in a comic book style and placing missing panels in order.

At third time of asking in the series, the non-stop debates still remain some of the more frantic and engaging moments, as you listen to the arguments put forward and try to deduce the inconsistencies from the truth. The majority of the other minigames can feel a little more like going through the motions and dragging a tad, although the new debate scrum, where essentially half of the class disagrees with the other half, resulting in a quick-fire round of countering one side's views with other truths, is always a fun part of the trials, especially with the catchy soundtrack backing it up. Remember again, though, that this is no Phoenix Wright, so don't go in expecting to think too hard about solving heavy puzzle sections.

Screenshot for Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony on PS Vita

Danganronpa V3 is a consistently great story that at least keeps par with the other two mainline entries - even if it does borrow massively from what has come before - but it is the ending that will have the most impacting and long-lasting effects. Of course, no spoilers will be mentioned, but it is most definitely a conflicting part of the game that will make or break it for just about anyone that plays it through. Whilst some will appreciate what V3 does here, it can somewhat reduce the desire to continue maxing friendship bonds and play the other modes post-game. That said, there perhaps hasn't been so impactful an ending in the series thus far, and the discussions that will emanate from it will go on for a while.

The extra modes feature - just like in previous entries - essentially big enough games in themselves that can eat up just as many hours as the main story. A table top board game and RPG mode with card game elements can accrue heavy grinding, but there is so much to them that it's like unlocking brand-new games that many would charge a decent sum for separately. It will take a long while to achieve that Platinum Trophy because of these extras, but there is no lack of effort at trying to prolong the replayability of the game and allowing players to spend more time with their favourite characters.

Screenshot for Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony on PS Vita

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Although Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony borrows heavily from the entries that have come before it, feeling like more of the same, it does a great job of staying engaging throughout the majority of the story, thanks to the appealing characters that the series has always been known for, and due to the murder cases that continue to keep players guessing right through each trial. The ending is going to be a talking point for the foreseeable future, but while it is probably time for an evolution of the franchise, devotees to the previous games will find just as much enjoyment here as before.

Developer

Spike Chunsoft

Publisher

NIS America

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Plz no spoilers as I'm still playing, but what were the important changes to scenes or dialouge and what of the outdated views/writing?

Overall it's entertaining but wayyyyyyy too slow paced.  Took over 10 hrs just to get to first trial.

I agree it drags on a bit. Some of the trials can go a tad too long, especially the final one.

I won't risk spoiling, so I won't say too much, but there is one definite example of them modifying a particular art still in one of the cases that ends up contradicting the case entirely. Keen observers might pick up on it, but you just have to brush it off.

One character's dialogue was heavily altered that affects how they will be viewed, as well as their underlying personality - and certain evidence in relation to the character was edited to make things confusing. It's like NISA wanted to put their own ideals as to what they wanted the character to be, instead of accepting what the original creators wanted.

In some dialogue, the localisation edits are necessary tho, and they did cut back on some of the offensive stuff from the JP. Some things did stay intact tho, which some people will or won't be affected by. The outdated views I found intact was a sort of toxic masculinity nature of one character that rears its head now and again.

These are just little things I picked up on that I thought were annoying. Some won't bat an eyelid, whilst others might dislike other things that I found hilarious, such as Miu's entire dialogue. These little instances are only small, and Danganronpa has always rode the line between what is and isn't generally acceptable, particularly due to JP and Western differences. None of this has really affected my overall opinion of the game.

If you want me to go into a little extra detail on the above examples once you've beat the game, I can do.

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