As the most recent entry in Danganronpa universe, Danganronpa V3 is the hottest topic among fans. The killing game continues again with a new set of unique characters and no obvious connection at first to the past Danganronpa games. However, I strongly recommend to play the first two games to avoid any possible spoilers.
To get an overview of the game, you can watch the launch trailer below:
As a note, my Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony review is a spoiler-free review. I’m using most of the demo’s screenshots and official artworks to avoid spoiler. There is a short opinion about the ending, but I won’t spoil anything about it. I will warn you before the opinion section so feel free to skip that section if you don’t want to read it.
Welcome to a new world of Danganronpa, and prepare yourself for the biggest, most exhilarating episode yet. Set in a “psycho-cool” environment, a new cast of 16 characters find themselves kidnapped and imprisoned in a school. Inside, some will kill, some will die, and some will be punished. Re-imagine what you thought high-stakes, fast-paced investigation was as you investigate twisted murder cases and condemn your new friends to death.
Are you ready?
Following the similar premise in previous main Danganronpa games, all the characters find themselves in a secluded mysterious area. This time, it is a school called Ultimate Academy for Gifted Juveniles. You’re playing as Kaede, the main heroine, and exploring the school to solve the mysteries.
However, things didn’t go so smoothly when everyone’s beloved and unbearable mascot, Monokuma, returned as the “Headmaster” of this school. He didn’t show by himself though, since he now shared the spotlight with a new set of mascot called ‘The Monokubs‘.
The mischievous bears set a special killing game for our main characters. When a student kill other student(s), an investigation will be conducted. It will be followed by a class trial, where the students will debate and accuse who is the killer (or blackened, in this game) among them.
The trial will be closed with a voting to determine the blackened. If the students fail to vote the right blackened, they all will receive an unbearable punishment to death and the blackened will be able to graduate and leave the school. However, if they vote right then only the blackened that will be punished. The killing still continues, though.
The story is divided into some chapters. Each chapter usually follows this cycle:
- Daily Life: Normal life where some part of the story progressed until a killing occurred. You can also do Free Time with other students. More on that later.
- Deadly Life: The investigation part of the chapter after a killing happened. The story won’t progress until you’ve investigated all the important clues.
- Class Trial: The most exciting part where we will find the truth about the killing and who will be the blackened. Will you find despair or hope in the end of the class trial?
As a new chapter unveiled, there will be more areas opened to explore and more truths to be revealed. I’m always excited to see what our characters will find about the truth of the school and killing game. The game does a very good job to build the mystery, as one bit of truth usually followed with more new mysteries.
In term of pacing, I feel the story is a bit slow progressed in the mid game. Some of the murders in the game have somewhat obvious method or blackened when you pay attention closely to all the clues. However, half of the cases has a very good twist that is really unexpected even if you analyze all the given clues. I’m sure you will be able to bear the story until it ends nicely 🙂
Talking about the ending, I have a small opinion about it. Feel free to skip the next paragraph if you can’t bear to see it, even though it won’t contain any spoiler.
I feel the ending is where the title of this game – Killing Harmony – really plays a big role (rather than the impact to in-game characters). It raises a huge controversy among the fans. Personally, I find the ending is very amusing and clever. It wraps the killing game perfectly with a good morale lesson too (but yeah, some people may not see it because of the ending itself). Let’s wait and see what will happen in the next Danganronpa entry after this kind of ending.
Story Score: 9 out of 10
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony has a brand new set of 16 ultimate students that will participate in the killing game. The term ultimate refers to their exceptional talent, with most of them are showed off and have important role in the game. Since all the students are equally important, I will only give short comments so you can grasp their overall personality.
Here is the list of each ultimate:
Our protagonist in this game is the cheerful Kaede Akamatsu, Ultimate Pianist. She does have a good leadership ability and often trying to gather all ultimates, believing they can be friends with each other and get out from the ‘prison school’ together. Being a pianist, her good sense of hearing enable her to listen multiple arguments during Class Trial, eventually lead to Mass Panic Debate minigame.
Shuichi Saihara, Ultimate Detective, is the first person that Kaede met in the very beginning. He is a somewhat weak detective, though this will evolve later as the game progressed. His detective skill is often very helpful in important times, such as investigation and class trial when everyone just doesn’t know what to do.
The next unique student is K1-B0 (Keebo), Ultimate Robot. He is ‘very human’ despite being a robot with Artificial Intelligence. His timidness is often become a bully subject of Kokichi Oma, Ultimate Supreme Leader. Kokichi is a very good liar, and you can’t easily tell whether his mouth says the truth or not. His ‘nee-hee-hee‘ (horse-like laugh) is the most thing that I can’t get out from my brain about him easily (there are more, but it’s a spoiler) 🙁
The cheerful and positive thinker Kaito Momota, Ultimate Astronaut, is next in the list. He is very sociable and most people love being around him because of his positive energy. I call him the Ultimate Bro in this game. He is the opposite of Ryoma Hoshi, Ultimate Tennis Pro. They sometimes argue because of Ryoma’s attitude for easily giving up life. Well, Ryoma actually has a sad past that you will find as the story progressed, so you may (or not) feel sympathy toward him.
My favorite creepy character in this game is Korekiyo Shinguji, Ultimate Anthropologist. He often shows a fetish toward ‘Beauty of Humankind‘ in a rather creepy gesture. Despite the creepiness, he often thinks with logic rather than feeling, presenting good arguments in the class trial. His creepy female ‘counterpart’ is Angie Yonaga, Ultimate Artist, who is also my favorite character in the game. She is a devout of Atua, a fictional god that only she knows about, and often speaking and acting as its mediator. Her ‘Atua this, Atua that‘ attitude is often an ice-breaker in the story 🙂
The next student is Miu Iruma, Ultimate Inventor. She is also one of the mood-maker in the game because of her excessive foul language and perverted talk. She is like the female version of Kazuichi from Danganronpa 2, but ten times more perverted than him. Being a rude and loudperson, very few students want to be friend with him. Aside from Kaede and Keebo, only Gonta Gokuhara, Ultimate Entomologist, who genuinely wish to be friends with her. Gonta seems to have low intelligent and a very unique past, but his gentle heart is the top among all the students.
The loli in the group is Himiko Yumeno, Ultimate Magician. She prefers Ultimate Mage as her title though, because she confident that her talent is real magic, but normal people will of course see it as magic tricks. Himiko seems lazy and feels everything that needs some effort is a pain in the ass. She is often dragged everywhere by Tenko Chabasira, Ultimate Aikido Master, who also claimed as her best friend. Their relationship seems to be one-sided for Tenko, though. Tenko’s hate toward male (so far to call almost any men in the group as ‘degenerate male’) may feels annoying at first, but it quickly become one of my humor vitamin in this game.
Maki Harukawa, Ultimate Child Caregiver, doesn’t seem to suit her title. Her cold and solitude nature make almost everyone scared to go near her, let alone children. Maki doesn’t seem to care about blending with others, though we will learn more about her later. She is somewhat the opposite of Kirumi Tojo, Ultimate Maid. She can do anything that any maid in the world can do, from cooking, cleaning your room, working as your bodyguard or your mom (huh?), and so on. Because of her high ability and responsibility toward her jobs, the students feel somewhat dependent to Kirumi for doing many things that they can’t (or won’t) do themselves.
We also have the otaku type in this group. If the previous game has Sonia, then this game has Tsumugi Shirogane, Ultimate Cosplayer. However, she has a plain character and almost always talking plainly about every plain and non-plain things. She shines more in Free Time rather than main story, though. The final non-plain student is Rantaro Amami, Ultimate ???. Yes, he is the mysterious talent type in this group. Rantaro is shown to be carefree and relaxed person with some mysteries surrounding him. He also seems to know something about the killing game.
Each characters plays a big role in the story. Their relationship changes overtime, and some characters have a significant character development. In the first chapter, I didn’t really remember all the characters name except a few ones that I interact the most. With the help of their unique personalities, I can remember all of their names, catchphrases, and faces by the end of chapter 2. Personally, I find the ultimate students in this game are more amusing and unforgettable compared to Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair.
The despair and mental break that the characters experienced are very real. I can feel empathy to the despaired characters. You can really feel the same level of despair and hope that the characters in story feel. Some scenes have a very emotional and tearjerking moment, and this can happen from as early as first chapter. The voice actors (I used English) do a very good job to express the emotion of their respective characters. Kudos to them 🙂
We also have our mascots here. Monokuma, the half-white-half-black panda… I mean, bear, makes a comeback in this game with the same twisted funny personality. As the ‘headmaster’ who controls the killing game and enforces the school rules, Monokuma can’t bear a boring progress.
He gives killing motive, all for the sake of making the killing game more interesting. You will also find him showing up from nowhere and slapping absurd comment or statement to our characters to further confuse us and hindering from reaching the truth. There are as many hilarious scenes as creepy scenes from him. He is the real definition of psycho-cool bear, and that’s what I (and probably many fans) still like him in this game 🙂
The new mascots team called ‘The Monokubs‘ is actually feel less important and funny compared to Monokuma. Their primary role is to support Monokuma controlling the killing game and guard the school with their Zord-like machine called Exisals.
The Cubs-Super-Sentai-Parody team consists of 5 siblings: Monotaro (the leader – RED), Monophanie (the only girl – PINK), Monodam (the quiet – GREEN), Monokid (the rude – BLUE), and Monosuke (the straight man – YELLOW). They like to show up from nowhere, shouting their catchphrase ‘Rise and Shine, Ursine!’ and leave unexpectedly with another catchphrase ‘So Long, Bear Well!’
Out of the 5, Monotaro is my favorite since his character is very hilarious and appealing. He is very easy to forget something, even a conversation that happened seconds ago. He also have somewhat important role in certain chapter. Monosuke and Monokid don’t leave too much impression, while Monophanie and Monodam still has some good moments that I easily remember in the game. The cubs feels somewhat boring in the beginning until mid-game (imagine that you need to know 16 students AND 5 cubs), but they will grew in your heart eventually.
The interaction between the ultimate students and mascots is both hostile (sometimes creepy) and funny. This game does a very good job to build the characters and their relationship among each other.
Character Score: 10 out of 10
Being a Visual Game in the core doesn’t mean Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony will only allow you to pick choices and point & click to investigate clues. Actually, I feel this game (and all main Danganronpa entries) has the richest gameplay variety compared to other adventure visual novels.
Daily Time & Deadly Time Gameplay
Both Daily Time and Deadly Time have a similar gameplay. You can explore the schools using first-person perspective, talk to other students (sometimes witnessing hilarious scenes caused by their unique personality), and investigate objects. I’m usually not a fan of first-person perspective exploration, but this game handles it quite good. The camera angle doesn’t shake too much, so it won’t annoy you when changing direction.
There is a unique feature when you are exploring the school, which is ‘smacking’ non-checkable objects. You can do this to obtain Monocoins, an in-game currency that you can use for playing MonoMachine in Class Store. It will randomly give you item prizes, which can be given to other students during Free Time and boost your relationship (not always, though). This feature is quite fun, especially when you can ‘smack’ strange or seemingly important objects in a room. You can always press (o) to return all the objects.
The main gameplay difference between Daily Time and Deadly Time is the Free Time and Investigation:
- Free Time in Daily Time is useful to increase your relationship with other students. You will be able to know more about others the closer you are to that person. It doesn’t affect the main story, which is a bit shame. Learning your favorite student’s past and character is already quite fun, though.
- Investigating objects and talking to others in Deadly Time will sometime produce Truth Bullet that will be used as evidences in the Class Trial. All the Truth Bullets aren’t missable, and you can’t progress the story if you don’t have all Truth Bullet from the room you currently investigate.
Basically, there is a lot of gameplay for just exploring and nurturing your relationship with other students. Smacking objects to finding Monocoins becomes rather tedious later. Fortunately, you can also get them after each Class Trial section.
Class Trial Gameplay
Class Trial is the signature gameplay from main Danganronpa series. It’s similar with the Trials in Ace Attorney series. However, instead of playing as a Defense Attorney against the Prosecutor, every student is both a Defense Attorney for their own (or trusted friends) and Prosecutor. Monokuma will act as their Judge here.
The basic flow in Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony Class Trial is discussing certain topic that can lead them to understand about the case, the method of killing, accusing potential blackened, and finally vote for who they think as the blackened for this killing game. Of course this won’t be easy, as the real blackened will try to mess the discussion without them realizing it.
You won’t process the Class Trial as just a normal trial. There are many mini-games that you must play to uncover the truth when discussing the case. The most common mini-game in Class Trial is the Non-Stop Arguments, where you need to ‘present’ evidence to either contradict wrong argument or support right argument.
The evidences will be presented as ‘Truth Bullets‘, and you need to ‘fire’ the correct Truth Bullet to the argument that you want to support or contradict. In certain cases, you will need to fire ‘Lie Bullet‘ to lie and proceed the trial. This is a new and signature gameplay for Danganronpa V3. Lie Bullet has the opposite meaning from the evidence you have (e.g.: If the evidence of Kokichi account said he didn’t go to 2nd floor, then when fired as Lie Bullet it will mean that he went to 2nd floor). The ‘Lie Bullet’ mechanism is an interesting gameplay to confuse your logic 🙂
Non-Stop Arguments is a fun mini-game but annoying sometimes, because the reticle is constantly moving when you want to fire the Truth Bullet (or Lie Bullet), causing you yo to miss the argument and waiting until the argument appears again. Luckily, you can equip some skills in the beginning of class trial that will reduce the annoying movement of the reticle.
There are many other fun mini-games, such as Psyche Taxi (the replacement of Logic Dive from Danganronpa 2) to use logical thinking for finding the truth, Mass Panic Debate (Non-Stop Argument mini-game with three arguments at once), and Hangman Gambit V3.0 (word finding mini-game; upgraded version from Danganronpa 2, but much less annoying).
My personal favorite mini-game is Debate Scrum, where the students will be divided into two splitting opinions and argue against other team with specific keyword. The music played and how the debate proceed until you win are amusing. You will wish that this mini-game is held as many as possible in each case 🙂
Overall, the Class Trial mini-games make the fun value of playing this game much higher. I don’t feel bored when playing the game. Compared to Danganronpa 2, all the mini-games are much less annoying. However, they also seem to be easier. I rarely find myself confused to find the answer, but I still enjoy the fun mini-games fortunately. I also hope that Debate Scrum will be brought again in future games 🙂
Additional Gameplay Modes
There are 3 gameplay modes that you can access after beating the main story. The first mode is Salmon Mode (yes, that is the name). This mode is similar with School Mode from Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Island Mode from Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair. In this mode, the killing game is cancelled. Instead, you will be ‘forced’ to nurture your relationship with other student in able to graduate from the school and taking them to a date.
One of the gimmick in this mode is the Love Suite event, where you can watch an intimate and usually romantic) scene with the student you choose. Well, I think this is more of a fanservice mode but still fun to watch. Some of the events are really funny, and I’m happy to see it in this peaceful mode. This mode also digs deeper the character of each student, making you able to learn more about your favorite character.
The second mode is Talent Development Plan, a board game where you will be able to play as any character from the three main Danganronpa games (Danganronpa 1,2, V3) to develop their talent. All the students will attend the same school in this ‘alternate universe’. Again, this is very fun because you can play as any favorite character and see them interact with other character, even from other Danganronpa game. The board game mechanism is also simple, so I don’t feel too confused when playing it.
The final mode is Monokuma’s Test, a retro dungeon-crawling RPG where you can form a four-people party to challenge the dungeon and defeating various ‘Monokuma-nized’ monsters and bossess along the way. The characters you take is developed through the Talent Development Plan.
This one is amusing, although there are no new avatar picture or illustration for your favorite character when battling the enemies. It’s sort of fulfilling the dream of playing an RPG of Danganronpa game, but without much story in it. Hence, I wasn’t enjoying it as much as the other two modes.
In summary, Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony has a very rich gameplay experience for being a visual game. A lot of them was fun and the story doesn’t feel boring because of all the mini-games you need to play to progress the Class Trial. All additional modes are fun if you have several favorite characters and wish to see more of them. I feel the additional modes are very worth of my time 🙂
Gameplay Score: 9 out of 10
You can change your in-game Monopad theme
Graphic & Sound
As for my personal taste, Danganronpa V3 pop-up art style isn’t really my favorite for a visual novel game. However, I admit that it is suitable for a murder mystery game, creating a gimmick for Danganronpa games. Characters’ expression and avatars are drawn with so many variety, hence their emotion can be expressed thoroughly. Environment is drawn without putting many details, so don’t really expect an amazing and nice background for your screenshot capturing.
As for the music, I find it a bit lacking compared to previous Danganronpa game. Some of the theme songs (like the Monokubs theme) aren’t as ear-catchy as previous games. Old theme songs like Monokuma’s Theme or Non-Stop Argument songs still ace for me. Two notable new good songs for your playlist are Beautiful Lie (exploration theme in Daily Life) and Debate Scrum song.
Overall, the graphic and sound are quite helpful to build Danganronpa V3 gameplay and setting, just not that much compelling and very subjective to each individual.
Almost every part in the academy has an important use in the story (or additional mode). It’s nice to explore all the places in academy for the first time. Some places are designed to have specific theme such as the ultimate students’ lab and certain floors in the academy. The atmosphere is very fit to the ‘trapped in mysterious academy’ setting.
If you really like a mystery game, than you will ‘almost’ want to play through again from Chapter 1. Many small things actually hint to the solving the mysteries and the truth in the ending.
Replaying again the class trial is also worth your time to collect Monocoins (instead of smacking objects in exploration mode), and you can also try to find Backroute, which is an alternate story progress in certain Non-Stop Argument case when you’re using Lie Bullet. Most chapters have one or two Backroutes, so finding them is quite fun.
Well, the most appealing thing from Danganronpa V3 is the characters. The additional modes rare really helpful to learn more about your favorite characters. Beside that, I hope you prepare for some feel train (and tissue box) in the most of class trials. If you got a soft spot for tragedy, that this game will make you cry for a quite amount 🙂
It’s also worth noting that there are many ‘hidden-but-obvious’ references to other IP in this game. For example, Monokuma is referencing a certain famous Yo-Kai anime & game franchise from Japan. Can you guess it?
Additional Experience Score: 8 out of 10
And so we done with this long Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony review. Playing this game is very satisfying and totally worth of your time. Of course there are some controversies there (especially about the ending), but it is best to leave it to your personal judgement. Sounds off your experience playing this game in the comment section!
So long, bear well!