Capsule Review: Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony

The third mainline Danganronpa game with the same structure as its two predecessors - a visual novel in which you investigate murders and then solve them in courtroom sequences. Sixteen high-potential high schoolers are once again held prisoner in an unusual school by recurring mascot villain Monokuma and forced to play the killing game, in which the only way to escape is to murder a classmate and not be voted the culprit at the trial. While it’s marketed as being a new story, make no mistake - this is a sequel and you are highly encouraged to play the prior mainline games first.

As before, there are a number of minigames and extra mechanics layered on top of this foundation, though the previous bloat has been pared down somewhat (at least in the main game, the post-game side content appears to have expanded considerably in weird ways) and some effort appears to have been made to better tie the mechanics into the core game. The results are still mixed and the game would be improved if it removed some of the minigames entirely as they only serve to disrupt the pacing and tension of trials (“Psyche Taxi” being a particularly bad offender in this regard, forcing you to play a lengthy arcade driving game in order to answer a question.) But other new additions work well - the new “Debate Scrum” that pits half the kids against the other half to argue a point is a personal favorite. Overall, it’s mostly tighter and less frustrating.

The writing quality is on the level of Danganronpa 2 and definitely better than Danganronpa, though some characters have interactions and arcs that surpass this. For obvious reasons it’s difficult to say much about the story without getting into heavy spoiler territory, but some of its reveals and twists work better than others. Personally, I was highly engaged through most of the game but was very disappointed by the ending. While Danganronpa 2 deconstructed Danganronpa in a respectful way that retroactively redeemed the least-plausible parts of its story, Danganronpa V3 has much more disdain for the franchise thus far. I’m left with the impression the creators - or at least the writers - don’t want to make any more Danganronpa games, which makes it hard for me to want to play them.

I Stopped Playing When: I finished the main story. I did not bother with the side content as I was sufficiently turned off by the story’s ending.

Docprof's Rating:

Three Stars: Good. I liked the game enough to finish it (or just play it a bunch, for games that don't end). I recommend it to most genre fans.

You can get it or learn more here.