Review: Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony (PlayStation 4)

Reviewed by Jessie Ljunggren, posted Sep 19, 2017
Sep 19, 2017
  • Release Date (NA): September 26, 2017
  • Release Date (EU): September 29, 2017
  • Release Date (JP): January 12, 2017
  • Publisher: Spike Chunsoft, NIS America
  • Developer: Spike Chunsoft
  • Genres: Adventure, Mystery, Visual Novel
  • ESRB Rating: Mature
  • PEGI Rating: Sixteen years and older
  • Also For: Computer, PlayStation Vita
  • Single player
    Local Multiplayer
    Online Multiplayer
Death and despair abound; Let's get bears-deep into Spike Chunsoft's newest high school murder mystery visual novel!
Jessie Ljunggren


Murder In Black and White



The mystery begins as you, Kaede Akamatsu, wake up inside a school locker alongside another student named Shuichi Saihara. Its clear that both of your most recent memories have been erased, but you quickly discover that the duo, along with 14 other students, are trapped inside a school compound and forced to play a game of life and death. Every person has a skill that society has deemed them to be the best at, and have nicknamed them the Ultimates. Kaede's special skill is the Ultimate Pianist, while Shuichi's is that of the Ultimate Detective. Together, they must convince the other students not to participate in the killing game and find a way out of the hellish nightmare that they are trapped in.

Nearly all of the gameplay is delivered via visual novel style interactions with the other students. While Kaede and Shuichi stick together, everyone else is hesitant to trust one another and tensions only soar as murders inevitably take place. This doesn't mean, though, that during your "Free Time" you can't try to raise affection levels by spending time with the other students and giving them gifts. Environments are semi-destructible and reward coins that can be used to buy and gamble to acquire assorted gifts that may or may not please the recipient.

Pivotal points of story switch it up by changing the style of gameplay with Murder Trials and small mini-games. While the murder trials offer fast-paced logic deductions and hectic controls with fantastically stylized and animated text, the mini-games leave a lot to be desired and are akin to $1 shovelware found on most platforms. If you've ever played a Phoenix Wright game, the deduction and reasoning methods are very similar, with cross-examinations happening by supplying clues found during the murder investigations. Unlike the other series, there is a timer counting down to failure and conversation never stops, meaning you have to cycle through your evidence and "fire" it at the statement as its spoken if you wish to object or concur via a targeting reticle. If you fail to find the actual murderer, as judged by all-knowing papa bear Monokuma, then every student will die except for the murderer and lead to a game over. Correctly voting for the actual murderer ends in a short scene with a unique death designed to fit their talents and personalities.

There are plenty of plot twists, some of them logical and some... not so much. The first twist comes early and hits hard, setting the stage and letting the player know that no matter what they may think is right, it ain't over until the fat lady sings.

Monokuma's Revenge



There are plenty of characters to get to know, but there are only a handful that are actually appealing enough to want to converse with and try to raise your relationship levels with. Most of the 16 are boring, flat (literally), one-dimensional character tropes. While having so many candidates diversifies possibilities, it seems like this was also a downfall in terms of developing the characters and making the player actually care about them. The really standout characters are quirky, hilarious, and at times lewd and crude. While the death scenes are actually fairly tame and don't necessarily warrant the M/16+ rating, the dialogue sure does at times.

The graphics are a very odd mix of disproportionate, non-professional looking 2D sprites stuck into simple 3D environments. While the environments are very basic, they look good enough to be passable, and considering this title will also launch on the Vita, its understandable that they wouldn't try to push the quality when trying to conform it to older hardware. The camera pan/skew doesn't really work right either, and it feels a lot like trying to use mouse-look in an older 3D game like Duke Nukem, slightly distorted in a not very pleasing way.

You can almost forgive the amateur style at times, when you get absorbed into the story, but then one of the characters has to go and make a really ridiculous face and snap you out of the immersion as you cringe at the art choices the developers made. Silly faces aside, the story is good and LOADED with cultural references, and there are tons of side story branches and collectibles to keep you busy if you want to stretch your game value.

The destructible environments didn't really feel like something the game needed, and the hit detection is very broken, but it gives you a method to collect the in game currency while outside of trials. In fact, most of the mini-games control like crap, especially the very first one, which could be given a pass considering you aren't supposed to be able to beat it, but you can. The main story and running around controls well enough, and teleport points along with a helpful map system showing you the locations of the other students, mercifully relieving the chore of having to track down or run around for ages trying to find a person or story objective.

+ Great Plot twists
+ Lots of Fun, Quirky Interactions
+ Variety of Mini-Games Break Up VN Tedium
+ Tons of Post-Game Content
- Most Characters Are Flat Tropes
- Non-Professional (?) Character Designs
- English Voice-Overs (Use JP Voices)
6 Presentation
A slightly odd mixture of poorly drawn paper dolls and not-too-shabby 3D graphics don't mesh together very well, but the stylized sequences of the trials are really cool and the deaths are morbidly humorous.
9 Gameplay
As far as visual novels go, this one has some nice Ph■■nix Wr■■■t style trial sections and mini-games to break up the tedium of clicking through the main story.
8 Lasting Appeal
Since the main story can't really change, there isn't a whole lot of reason to replay this title. However, hardcore fans may want to try to see all the interactions and raise their relationship levels with all the characters to max because of some special bonus modes at the end of the game that add a ton of value to the title.
out of 10
Overall (not an average)
An intellectually (if not aesthetically) pleasing visual novel that may only appeal to regulars of the franchise. While Danganronpa v3 has it's own unique story-line not connected to the other games and a good mix of quirky characters, I can't help but feel like I missed my ride on the hype train for not having played the other titles first.


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