“Rise and shine ursine!”
This line is bound to get stuck in your head after playing Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony. Every now and then, you are gonna hear the little Monokubs saying this goddamn line. But why not? They have the liberty and the power to say so.
Coming to the point, Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony is the latest entry in the Danganronpa series. Based on the popular anime upon which have spawned many games and comics, this psycho-punk game increases the chaos meter to a whole new level. The basic theme remains similar, 16 students trapped in a godforsaken school which has been cordoned off from the outside world. You can escape from the school by ‘graduating’, but the term graduation is well away from what we know. Graduating in Danganronpa means killing a fellow student and getting by without being caught. Accomplish this and you can escape from this fancy hellhole. The aim of the game is to play the battle royale of killing and whittle down the number of students till you are the last person standing.
You stumble into the game as Kaede Akamatsu, a teenage highschool girl who is the Ultimate Pianist. The term ‘Ultimate’ may sound a bit gung-ho but every other of the 15 students have been given an Ultimate title. As you are acquainted with the characters through the game you come to know their areas of ultimate talents vary in a wide range of spectrum, some of which do not make any sense. But then again, the name of the school is revealed as the Ultimate Academy for Gifted Juveniles.
The main antagonist of this episode is Monokuma, a sentient teddy bear who has all the qualities of being the supreme boss. His art style of a black and white, good and evil is really eye-catching. He is the headmaster of the school and unlike previous games, this time he is assisted by the Monokubs. The Monokubs are 5 other teddy bears which act on the orders of Monokuma, to whom they refer to as Daddy. The Kubs all have different personalities and this makes their dialogues interesting. Each one of them has an Exisal, which are mobile bipedal weapon platforms or simply walking robots. The Monokubs utilize these to enforce order and discipline among the students.
As for the gameplay, the game is very light on it. Being a visual novel game, majority of the gameplay is point-and-click. You have to interact with different elements in different scenes to advance through the game. There is also some first-person gameplay but it feels clunky and unpolished. But you won’t notice it much. There are primarily two sections of the game: Free time and Class trials. Class trials are the best part of the game. Whwnever someone is killed, Monokuma holds a class trial, where the students debate on who is the killer or the ‘blackened criminal.’ The crux of the class trials is that if the real culprit is caught, he is immediately executed and the killing game continues. But if the culprit foxes the other guys in the trial, the rest of the debating comittee gets executed. During the builup to each class trial, you will have to examine evidences and interact with onther characters to make your case. This allows you to deduct the criminal through a series of minigames during the trial. During the Free time, you are free to roam around the school campus and interact with other students and improve your relationship with them. You obtain Friendship Fragments for successfull interactions. You can also decide to give them gifts, which can be bought from the school store. The Report Card keeps deetailed stats about your relations. The Monopad serves as your PDA, from where you can acquire all the required information.
The art style of this game is terrific. The characters retain their anime roots with the colourful hairs and eccentric behaviours. Even the school has a run-down feeling with overgrowth noticeable everywhere. The colour pallete is certainly very tasteful with bright colours being used to bring out the punk element in the game. One of the best animations is the one where you exit an area or a room when the screen turns to a darker shade and splits up, only to piece itself back together to resume on a new area. The background scores composed for this game certainly go hand in hand with the situations. The best one is definetely the intro track itself. It gets the adrenaline coursing through your body as you prepare to take on this mammoth of a game. The developers have done everything right in this department and gives the player no oppurtunity to be dissatisfied.
The story has been carefully crafted to always keep you engaged and focused. The dialogues between the characters is where Danganronpa shines the most. Each character sports a different personality, making the cast an interesting bunch. Literally no character strays from his designated personality, but keeps the player guessing. Nobody reveals his true motives until absolutely necessary. The game is heavy on content and you will take a good 30-40 hours for completing it depending on your speed. There are total 8 chapters, including a very lengthy epilogue and prologue. The first issue is that the prologue is way more lengthy than required. It takes forever to complete the damned prologue. But the first case is the best case in the game, hands down. The unexpected twist leaves you unsettled and reinforces the belief that there’s more to everything than meets the eye. The later cases are somewhat mundane and it becomes a chore to go through them. Some of them are fairly obvious and some downright boring. There are bits and pieces when the cases pique your interest. As you approach towards the end, the story sets up for an exciting finale. There’s a sense of satisfaction and achievement after completing the story, something few games can boast of.
To sum it up, Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony is an absolute gem of a game. It improves significantly on its predecessors in terms of everything. The drop-down gorgeous art style and music, the excellent story, and a cast of characters so diverse that you develop a special bond with each one, the game has it all. It may have some flaws in the story and the pacing, but it shouldn’t deter you from speeding through this game. Danganronpa V3 isn’t for everyone. Those who like action-adventure with loads of gameplay may find this worthless. But for those who enjoy the story-driven games with light gameplay, this game serves a blessing. It is bound to play with your psyche as you unravel the twisted events with equally twisted and sick motives.
This review of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony is based on the PS4 version of the game. A code for review was provided by the publisher.
An absolute gem of a game. Must have for anyone who likes a good story with mind-bending detective cases
Contributing to entropy since April 1997
PSN ID: Kaiser707