A potent combination that has become a cult classic over the years, spawning two main titles, a spinoff and even a canonical anime that marked the end of the first story arc. Having thoroughly enjoyed all things Danganronpa, it has truly been a long and grueling wait for V3.
To those completely unfamiliar with what Danganronpa is all about, I would highly recommend you turn your attention to the review of the first game, as these titles are meant to be played in the order that they were released for best possible experience.
Voice Acting: JPN/ENG
Length: 25~ hours
For those that are simply too lazy, the tl;dr is that they’re fun visual novels with a great cast of memorable characters and a series of murder mysteries that will keep you in suspense from first blood, all the way to its epic conclusion.
As a bonafide expert in all things Danganronpa, I will do my utmost not to spoil any story details that I deem important, which in the case for V3, turns out to be basically everything. I do not speak in hyperbole in saying that even mentioning what happens in the first few hours of the game could severely hinder one’s enjoyment when they actually get to playing for themselves.
Foolishly, I thought I knew more or less what to expect after being exposed to the twisted mind of the creator of Danganronpa, Kazutaka Kodaka but I found myself ill-prepared for bloody road ahead.
While I succeeded in predicting some plot points here and there, I was kept in the dark most of the time, not being able to even venture an educated guess as to who would die next or who the mastermind could be. Every single preconception I’ve established through my experience with the previous games was used against me with expert precision, and in the final moments of the story, my jaw dropped and remained in that position for what felt like an eternity.
I have a feeling that V3 will become a divisive game due to the nature of the story and its grand vision, but I personally found it absolutely thrilling, with moments that I’m sure never to forget.
As for the cast of characters, I found them to be as likeable, despicable, excitable, insufferable, dependable, and unforgettable – and if you say that I used too many words ending with “able” there, I would say that’s debatable.
This is of course due to the fact that there are over a dozen participants in the killing games, and just like in the previous titles, they’re quite hit or miss. Still, I found most of the cast interesting whether I liked them or not, which made going to bed each night all the more stressful as I woke not knowing if one of my favorite characters were killed off or worse, if they had become murderers themselves.
The gameplay remains mostly the same, as the flow of progression is nearly identical to the previous entries. There’s some free time to explore and converse with the other students, and eventually a body will be discovered. At that point, there is an investigation where evidence is gathered and witness testimonies are received. Then the class trial takes place, where the player works to convince the other students who the murderer is using evidence and logic.
Unlike in the previous entries (not counting that single instance in 1), the player is given opportunities to lie during the class trials and knowingly commit perjury at an attempt to arrive at the truth using a lie. It’s a nice addition to an already robust series of logic puzzles, and felt right at home with the rest of the mechanics present during the non-stop debates.
What wasn’t a welcome addition were the inclusion of even more nonsensical mini-games like mind mine, where the player is tasked with unearthing images by playing a crude game of what looks like minesweeper and bejeweled in one clunky mess. There were many others, including a driving mini-game that took the place of logic dive from Danganronpa 2.
Once again, most of these mini-games felt like simple busy work, getting in the way of progression more so than a nice distraction for variety’s sake.
Lastly, it’s worth noting that even though V3 is also on the Vita, the visuals have seen a significant upgrade- not so much in the way of prettier graphics, but in the style of presentation. The sheer number of portraits showcasing every character’s emotions have been noticeably increased, and the way text flies across the screen during class trial has been reworked to look and feel much more dramatic.
It’s difficult to say if Danganronpa V3 met my nearly unrealistic expectations, as even though much of the gameplay and story beats felt familiar, the true vision of V3 and how it ends has left me feeling conflicted in a way I have yet to fully digest. It’s an unforgettable journey full of love and betrayal- one that steps past the point of no return and bravely takes another leap forward to a world without hope or despair.
Fun Tidbit – You can spend mono coins in the casino where you can play a variety of games and buy presents, skills and more. After completing the game, there is a neat board game where the player can strengthen characters and take them to a retro-rpg dungeon with treasure and random encounters.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.