Danganronpa V3: review

  • Format: PS4 (version reviewed), Vita, PC
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: NIS America (console), Spike Chunsoft (PC)
  • Developer: Spike Chunsoft
  • Players: 1
  • Site: http://danganronpa.us/v3/
  • Game code provided by the distributor

There are, generally speaking, two types of people in this world; those who love the Danganronpa games, and those who haven’t played the Danganronpa games. They’re surreal, inventive, unpredictable, great fun, and utterly compelling. So when we tell you that this is the best one yet, please be assured that this isn’t a statement we make lightly.

Perhaps you haven’t played one of the previous games, but our lovingly crafted words have piqued your interest. Is this third game for you? Well, in true Danganronpa style, there’s no overt link to the previous games until very late in the day; and even then, newcomers will still be able to have a firm grip on proceedings. Nonetheless, this is ultimately a love letter to those who have played through from the beginning, and those are the people who will squeeze the final drops of enjoyment from V3. Make sure you’ve played the first two games before moving on to this. They’re great.

So, yes; despite the best efforts of the survivors of the first two killing games, supremely talented students considered the ‘ultimate’ in their fields are yet again held prisoner at the mercy of a mysterious mastermind, with no hope of escape. Unless, of course, they are prepared to murder a fellow student and remain unidentified during the ‘class trial’ which follows.

The general structure remains the same. The students talk amongst themselves, you explore the academy, unlock new areas if there’s just been a class trial, everybody says how no, this time there will absolutely not be a new killing… and then sure enough, a new body turns up. The area is investigated and, once all clues have been found, the next trial begins. The exploring side of things remains familiar, a first-person exploration with static cardboard cut-out representations of your classmates (most dialogue between trials is still not fully voiced, but that’s forgiveable given how much of it there is). You can now slap about destructible objects in a room for Monocoins, a strangely satisfying activity. From here on in, we’ll presume knowledge of the last few games.

It’s the class trials that hold the biggest gameplay changes. The core Truth Bullet mechanic remains, and you still use them to either agree or disagree with highlighted statements. In an example of how the experience has been tidied and made more user-friendly, you can no longer create new Truth Bullets from the speech of other students. Some may disagree with this decision, but it certainly reduces the likelihood of players hitting their head against the same Non-Stop Debate again and again as they try to work out what they’re supposed to select and where they’re supposed to use it. Similarly, the Closing Argument has been improved immensely. There are no red herring tiles, and the gaps and tiles are all provided with a brief description. It’s now a quick and painless process which, you could perhaps argue, renders player participation almost meaningless.

An addition is the ability to lie, and commit a Perjury. With a truth bullet selected, hold down the fire button to transform it to the opposite meaning, and put a negative filter over the display. Then, use it in the normal way. Lying will only work in specific instances, and is rarely used. Still, sometimes it’s the only way to move a trial forward – due to a lack of evidence, perhaps – and can even be used to temporarily steer trial debates down a missable route.

Minigames are still present and correct. Hangman’s Gambit returns, this time with the letters floating across a screen only occasionally illuminated. Logic Dive is replaced by Psyche Taxi, where you collect letters and avoid other cars before choosing a road for the correct line of deduction. Mind Mine is a colour-matching tile clearance game that requires careful thought to clear (or you can, as we always have to, keep tapping on rogue individual tiles). Argument Armament, meanwhile, is the new rhythm game. None of these minigames are spectacular, but they’re pleasant enough distractions that never feel unwelcome.

You’ll now sometimes have to pick the right statement to refute or agree with while multiple students shout over one another in a Mass Panic Debate. The visual and audio confusion works very well, providing a challenge without making things unreasonably difficult. The final new addition to trials (apart from forcing you to actually choose a culprit for the vote) is Debate Scrum, where the surviving students are split right down the middle regarding whether or not something is true. Cue the final new minigame, where you have to match the right truth bullet to the right opposing argument.

What of the all-important script? Well, despite the mistake of giving Monokuma a fairly minor role for the first half or so of the game (his ‘children’ the Monokubs are pushed to the fore), and also despite him starting off with a slightly irritating higher-pitched Mickey-Mouse-style voice (which he oddly but thankfully loses as the game progresses), it’s fantastic. It’s as deviously clever as ever, and still laugh-out-loud at times. You’ll never guess who the next victim or murderer will be; or, at least, we never did. In fact, the identity of the latest murderer will (with one exception, we found) remain a complete mystery each time until the trial is almost over. Even the exact method of killing will remain shrouded in mystery although, we must admit, this tends to be due to purposefully withheld information.

As for the endgame… hoo boy. It’s brave, a huge gamble, the most surreal the series has ever been… and it works in the most magnificent way possible. That’s not even all! Once you’ve finally finished the story after dozens of hours, as usual, you’re gifted with a few extra modes that could easily function as cheap spin-off releases by themselves. Representing immense value for money and with some of the best writing in the industry, you need to get yourself a copy of this.

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Written by Luke K

He plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. He doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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