Hello, this is my review of Dananronpa V3: Killing Harmony developed by Spike Chunsoft, and published by Spike Chunsoft and NIS America.
Just as a heads up, there’s probably going to be swearing and mature topics shown on screen. Nothing sexual, unlike Ladykiller in a Bind, but the language in this game gets quite salty at times. Just be aware of that.
Also, I’m going to be talking about Danganronpa the series a bit, if you haven’t played the first two games you should definitely before playing this, but enjoy the review, I’ll try to keep the spoilers to the spoiler section whose timestamp should be shown right now. With that said this is a long video. I apologize. I’ll try to be briefer next time, which I should be able to do.
But yes, There’s a spoiler section, if you’ve played this game, you probably know what I might want to talk about, but I’m going to attempt to avoid ALL spoilers while reviewing the game, and then have a spoiler discussion at the end to explain my opinions.
In keeping with that, almost all the video will be of the prologue, first case, and first trial. I will attempt to hide as much information as possible, however some pieces may be visible to sharp eyes. I will allow people to discuss the spoilers down in the comments so if they want to refute something I’ve said, that’s up to them. Beware.
Danganronpa V3 is the third main game in the Danganronpa franchise. Danganronpa is a series of games about school students being put into killing games for various reasons, but always with bloody effect and dangerous experiences. However, these are Visual Novels, so the player is more along for the ride than at true risk.
This is the fourth Danganronpa review I’ve made, I’ve covered the first two games, as well as the spin-off Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls. But if you are interested in my reviews, please remember to subscribe and like the video, it helps grow the channel and that’s all I ask. No ads like always.
To start with graphically, Danganronpa V3 is very similar to this series, especially the first game, having the same 3d style environments with 2d characters. This is an all-new location as this again takes place at a different place than the past two games, but it’s not a huge difference.
The class trials have been overhauled and look amazing. Several moments and designs really look impressive, especially in the non-stop debates. I looked forward to almost every class trial because the design of the words is what stands out. Sometimes it’d be something as simple as the word worm, crawling away. Other times a character might get a visual motif such as Angie, the religious girl showing a spiritual look with her major statement. Each time it’s worth checking out the entire debate even if you already know the answer.
Normally I move to the story, but since the story is at the heart of a visual novel, especially Danganronpa, let’s look at the gameplay and class trial of Danganronpa V3 first.
Again much of this is very similar to the previous two games. This time again, you’re at a school, outside of the trials, Danganronpa is similar to a dating sim. You can do friendship events, with two events a day. You can trade gifts, buy gifts at a school store, raise bond levels, and even get skills from this system. It’s everything we’ve seen before.
With this being a killing game, it is not a surprise, there are mysterious murders, and you once again investigate them, attempting to solve the murder, and having a class trial about the murder to find the killer . If you haven’t played the first two games, it’s similar to the Ace Attorney series of games, with the dating simulation tacked on to the front of it. The trials themselves are more involved than Ace Attorney, but the style should engage fans of that series as well.
While the class trials are similar to the series up to this point, this is also where Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony is at its most polished. This is easily one of the best sets of trials in the series for gameplay. The Non-stop debates are gorgeous to look at and every non-stop debate feels fresh and amazing.
Similarly, this game’s version of Panic Time Action or Bullet Time Battle is again the best yet. I won’t show it, as you know spoilers, but it’s extremely fluid and well designed.
There’s an additional new debate, called the Mass Panic, where three discussions happen at one time. I found this to be too easy, and while there are good moments for it, it’s just a more complex debate. I could imagine a system where you could fight each of the three people at once, but instead, you only have to find a single mistake. How is that different than non-stop debate? I don’t know.
Many of the older systems have returned and they have new coats of paint and new designs and that means they’re quite improved. The Rebuttal Showdown which replaces the Rebuttal Battle is hugely improved and more interesting.
Similarly, the Hangman’s Challenge, which is my least favorite game of the first two in the series has been perfected. There are no fake letters that make it easier to puzzle out a word you don’t know and I was forced to a few times.
The simple version is that there’s nothing bad in V3’s trial system and while it might be a little easier in the long run, it’s less frustrating and makes for a better experience, especially when you get stuck.
There are three major new trial elements here, the first is a replacement for the Logic Dive from the second Danganronpa game, which kind of sucked, and is now an outrun clone called Psyche Taxi. Not a great name, but nice simple gameplay that works well. There is a casino version of this game you can bet money on if you like it.
There is also Mind Maze. which is a match game very similar to SameGame if you know that one. It’s a simple but fun mode where you have to uncover and choose between three objects.
The third new part of the trial is the Split Opinion which is a fresh new idea. These are fantastic moments where there are two opinions and people are evenly split between the two sides, and you have to defeat the opposing opinion by refuting each of their points of contention. It is a very solid addition.
The only real issue I have with the new modes and the entire trial system is that EVERY trial piece had to be done in every trial after they are introduced. So you’ll ALWAYS have split opinions, you’ll always have mind mazes, even if it doesn’t make sense, and you’ll always have Psyche Taxis. Sometimes they just don’t fit in well.
There is one other major change to Danganronpa V3’s non-stop debate, the ability to refute one argument with another that was in Danganronpa 2 is gone, and that’s better in my opinion. But this time around players can lie. It’s not even the ability, it’s the requirement. At least once a trial, players have to “lie” by holding down the shoot button.
The problem is the game calls it perjury which is its own problem, but it’s not a very fun mechanic, and it feels dishonest. At any point, someone could call you out on these lies and suddenly you’re untrustworthy, they don’t because it’s not written that way, but I don’t like the idea you have to lie in EVERY trial. If this was a single instance it might have worked better, but it becomes another weapon in your arsenal. There are even special paths, called Back Routes which can only be found by lying in certain places. But again I’m not a fan of this system at all.
Finally, the same issue is here, the closing arguments which are not shown for obvious reasons. While closing arguments are improved, they are also once again unnecessary. It is annoying that the trial hammers issues into you over and over, and then your character has to reiterate them in a comic, and then your character has to READ the comic with no way to skip it, and then you win. Many topics get discussed two or three times before the closing Arguments, so you’ll be sick of going over the case by the time you get to this part of the trial.
Speaking of issues that have come up in the previous games. Game overs still suck and are pointless, and have no benefit at all. If you run out of life, you have to restart your current “task” but it doesn’t benefit the game to have game overs unless you think that’s the only thing that defines a game. It really isn’t necessary here, and even counting the mistakes for the scoring system, which is something the game already does, is a better choice.
With all that said though, I did say this was Danganronpa at it’s best, and it’s clear that Spike Chunsoft has learned quite a bit over three games. Kudos to them, if the other two games had been this polished, both of those games might have got a bump in the score. Fixing Hangman alone probably is worthy of that.
There is a bit more gameplay post-game, but let’s talk about the story first. I’ll try to keep this as spoiler-free as we can.
Once again a cast of characters shows up. This time there are 16 students. While the cast of the first and second games had multiple likable characters, the characters of the third game are a little rougher. Most of these characters are unlikeable at least at first, and there are not many that are interesting. Personally, I had about three or four characters that I even wanted to be around.
I feel the previous two games had a better cast lineup and more interesting characters as a whole. That made it harder to get into the game and pulled into the story.
One thing that was changed in Danganronpa 2, was that every character got a chance to say something. Perhaps people felt their favorite character was maligned in the original game because they didn’t speak as much as others. However, in Danganronpa V3, this becomes more frustrating.
So many scenes go on for far too long because the entire group is together. On day one, something might happen and you get 16 comments on that, and then 16 comments on a follow-up and so on. It slows the game down.
This is also a wordy game, and it feels like many of these comments are the same thing. There are a few scenes near the end of the game where people are just duplicating each other’s words over and over, and it’s not very interesting. Having dialogue to give each character the same screen time just so you can say everyone got equal time is a bad idea that doesn’t work well.
It is better to have a well-crafted story in a movie, then every character getting an equal amount of screen time in every scene. I could imagine a version of the Avengers with that which would be horrible. Especially Endgame. It doesn’t work in movies, but it also doesn’t work in visual novels.
There are moments in Danganronpa V3 that are related to the franchise, but Danganronpa V3 is the least connected game of the series. You mostly have killing games because that’s what people like. Sure.
But Hope’s peak and the original two stories only get mentioned about five chapters in. It was so late I almost thought there wouldn’t be a link to the original games. That’s all I can say about it though.
I, however, wanted to understand more of the story of the world, and the plot holes and more. Sadly that’s not given in Danganronpa V3, I’ve heard the stuff I want (what the tragedy is) is explained more in the anime, but Danganronpa V3 doesn’t fill in much with the story.
As much as I’m avoiding spoilers, I will say that this game does have a very divisive ending. Some people will like it. Personally I have a lot of problems with what the game does, and I think it does things that ruin not only this game but the franchise to some extent, and much of my score does revolve around these topics, but with it being spoilers, I don’t want to ruin it for you if you intend to play.
I would end it there and honestly, at this point, I could give this game a negative or a 2.5/5 which would be an average score… but there’s still one more section, the post-game content.
There are three major modes. The first is Salmon Mode, which is the way to gather up extra friendship points. I didn’t love the characters, so I wasn’t big into this, but there’s a ton of content left for you here.
The second as seen on the screen is called Talent Plan, it’s a great monopoly game where you level up a character of your choice over three years, each taking 12 turns on a board. You also will run into characters from the previous two games and get scenes of character meetings. This is rather cool.
The third mini-game is called Despair Dungeon: Monokuma’s Test, and it’s where you play a typical dungeon crawler, RPG while diving into the dungeon.
What makes all of this better is you have to take your characters you develop from Talent Plan into the Monokuma’s Test. Even better, you earn money in the test, which gets you extra cards for Talent plan…. Including characters from the first two games. Want to go back and see Mondo? Want to level up Gundan Tanaka and his rodents of doom? They’re both here, the characters don’t get unique abilities, but it’s so fun to be able to team up any character you want.
This post-game content saves the game for me. I love the idea of getting all three games characters together in a major bash and the fact that it’s free additional content works well. But I still have major issues with the story here.
If you’ve played the first two games, you probably should finish the story, but I almost wish I could go back and forget what I saw here.
I’m going to give Danganronpa V3 a
It’s the best I can do for this entry in the series.
Now, if you’ve enjoyed this video so far, feel free to subscribe.
The fact is I feel I have to talk about the rest of the game, and this is your spoiler warning. If you haven’t completed Danganronpa V3, please stop the video, check out either of the first two game’s reviews, links in the description. And have a great day.
Alright… Let’s talk spoilers, counting down
Alright, so you’re still here, welcome to the spoiler section. I’m mostly going to rattle off thoughts I had while I played the game. But if you don’t know what 53 means, get out of here, I’m going to spoil it all.
The only big thing in the early game outside of how sad Gonta’s death was, is… The first case, and, of course, I bring this up. The Unreliable Narrator trope is fine. but if you’re PLAYING as the character you have to do a lot more.
Spec Ops: The Line does this well as you see a delusion that the character experiences. Danganronpa V3 does not do this. If you take the words at face value, then Kaede drops her bag and there’s no planning. But that’s not the case she clearly planned it all out… yeah, it’s kind of crap.
The first case in Danganronpa is poorly told especially with that twist, and the idea is done too early. This along with no blackouts, no change of scenes, nothing? Come on, this was executed badly. The idea of it isn’t the problem. It’s how it was done. This is something we’ll come back to.
Also, you have the story killing off the first female protagonist in the main series, the one you promoted? Eventually, I grew to like the Shuichi but Kaede was a better or at least more interesting character.
The rest of the game is relatively good but lacks links to the main game as mentioned. And then suddenly it all comes out of nowhere. Yeah, I don’t like the sixth trial, what a shock.
Starting with the investigation, the timer section in that sixth investigation was unnecessary and just feeds into the worthlessness of the restart functionality. If you think the game over was a good idea, let me know down in the comments, I seriously doubt anyone likes that, but someone probably does.
Let’s talk about the reason we’re here. The ending. If it wasn’t for the sixth case, I could probably have gotten my opinions across without a spoiler section and just minor hints, but I feel II have to explain my opinions because the story does affect the final score.
So once again, Junko is back. I’ll accept that. I liked the idea the cosplayer is the villain who is cosplaying as Junko, that could have been clever.
But then the game decides to rewrite the entire franchise as fiction. Ignoring issues about Cospox, this is still pretty bad. Yes, of course, it’s fiction in our world but here it’s a second level of fiction because Team Danganronpa is NOT Spike Chunsoft.
The problem is much of this ending feels like it’s coming from a dismissive place. It’s almost like the creator wanted to kill the creation because fans kept demanding more, or are jerks. I’ve heard that this is not the intended effect of the story … but of course he would say it wasn’t intended, I just don’t know if I believe it. As fans, we wanted more, especially more big twists, now we got it and I don’t think I want more. Good job, maybe?
This is a game that tried too hard to top itself again and again. Danganronpa 2 did a great job of it. V3 doesn’t and instead annoyed me. It tries too hard to come up with something clever. It’s very similar to MGS2’s twist. If you know what I mean if you don’t… play games that came out over 18 years ago a little faster. But MGS 2’s reveal is fast and it is also clearly fake.
I know die-hard fans are saying that maybe this is a lie and they found it to be an interesting idea, but this is given as such a finality in the game that it’s a firm truth in this universe. I know there’s stuff in the opening that contradicts the final elements, and yes, that’s bad storytelling. But it doesn’t mean the ending is all lies and I think it is intended as the truth.
There is no benefit to this lie with how they delivered it.
If you like this ending that’s perfectly fine, but I don’t think saying “we’ve been lying to you all these games” is ok. It cheapens the experience and we’ve played these games now for over one hundred hours. Saying “You’re a bad person for liking them” is a bad response. Even the way they tried to preemptively defend the backlash with the final battle with K1-BO is weak.
But the worst part of the reveal though is that length. It’s at least a two or three-hour class trial that just is the game pointing and trying to make a grand gesture that doesn’t work. The previous two games had weak endings, but at least they fit with the story. Here… they’re making something up, quite literally, and in a way that tries to change the entire franchise which is what doesn’t work.
They also hammer this idea into your head so hard that you don’t have a choice, this is ultimately what the game wanted to say, that you have maybe have been participating in this game in the same way. Again, interesting but hammered in so hard and after so many hours it doesn’t work well.
That’s really why it doesn’t matter if the opening shows the ending is a lie, or if you want to pick it apart. This is the summation of Danganronpa V3 and it felt like they wasted my time and money with the game for something that isn’t very well done.
Ultimately, Danganronpa V3 is a disappointment. I know some people will disagree, and that’s perfectly fine. Visual Novels are always open to interpretation, but for me, I can’t help but feel once again it’s the execution of this twist, and the lack of hints previously in the game that makes the result of this game extremely disappointing and underwhelming. If this was the theme of this game, it would be better, but it appears after thirty hours.
So that’s my opinion on the ending. Thanks for listening if you made it this far. If you did, well clearly you liked something so consider subscribing and let me know what you think in the comment sections. I’ll give us the option of talking about spoilers, though try not to be too blatant in the first couple lines, or use a spoiler warning if you can.
And until next time, I’m Kinglink, thanks for watching.