Review: Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony (PS Vita).
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony starts a new school semester. Principal Monokuma calls all students to go to the gym immediately. It’s time to move on with the next chapter of the killer game, where the main role is played by murdering kids filled with despair and hope. Pupupupu.
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony is the next installment of a crazy series, where a group of extremely gifted youth is closed against their will and forced to take part in a killer game. This one is overseen by a sadistic and self-proclaimed school principal – a mechanical mascot named Monokuma. If you’ve played the previous games, you know how grotesque the universe we are dealing with here. The dense climate and captivating intrigue can completely change your face in a few minutes. In one moment we cry with laughter due to a brilliant sense of humor, and in the next moment we are overwhelmed by the depressing atmosphere and the weight of the events that took place. But let’s start at the beginning. This time we get to know the story from the point of view of Kaede Akamatsu – a young and charming pianist. She is one of the sixteen participants in the next edition of the game, where the road to freedom leads through a perfectly planned murder and experiencing a court hearing. At first, our heroes resist the manipulator and plan to work together to escape from a dangerous academy together. It soon turns out, however, that nobody can be trusted at this point. Otherwise the game would be boring.
… And there is no question of boredom here. Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony it is a real mishmash of the best elements of series such as Ace Attorney and Zero Escape, and even Persona themes are present. The title belongs to the visual novel genre, but it is an incredibly extensive representative of this category. The main fun is still reading tons of text that represents a crazy and totally twisted story that draws you from the very beginning. Believe that Danganronpa is not afraid of controversy – in the second installment, the theme of necrophilia was emphasized. The new adventure is very vulgar and downright perverse. There are plenty of allusions to sex here, and the dialogues are full of all kinds of blasphemy, so it’s easy to imagine the tone of the story. Reading is of course not the only element of the game and the whole thing is more than an interactive picture book.
We push the plot forward by exploring the school and interacting with various objects or characters. In the following chapters, in turn, new places open up, and the plot thickens more and more, revealing shreds of numerous secrets – but these, however, bring more questions than answers. When it comes to an (un) expected murder, the fun turns into a simple adventure game. We then investigate the place of the incident, collect evidence and interrogate other participants, because the act is always committed by one of our friends. The final stage is a court hearing to identify the perpetrator – the essence and best element of the series. It is here that there are real clashes and getting to know the complicated motives of individual characters. We have no choice but to indicate the person guilty of the crime, because if we fail, the murderer will be set free and the rest of the participants will be subjected to a bloody and spectacular execution.
Court cases are an extremely dynamic process where all survivors debate the crime and try to find out the truth to correctly identify the culprit. People speak one at a time and their sentences appear on the screen. Our role is to correctly aim at the right part of the statement and launch a bullet of truth – that is, simply evidence revealing a contradiction in a statement or a mistake in reasoning. However, forget about the conflict of despair and hope that was told in the previous editions. Now the war is about truth versus lies. This is where the first major novelty appears. Sometimes we do not have the right tool to find out the truth. Fortunately, this one can be discovered through the use of lies – such irony. Sometimes there will also be mass panic. If several people are too suspicious, each of them will simultaneously try to prove their innocence. The screen is then divided into three parts, and we listen to a few testimonies and destroy the lines that drown out other sentences. However, this is only a fraction of the crazy and twisted mechanics, because it surprises at every step and presents new mechanisms from time to time.
There are also mini-games – this time the best in the series. The modified hangman returns, where we compose the appropriate password from the letters. We will even get behind the wheel of a taxi to calmly analyze the issue. All this keeps you in suspense and engaging. The development of events and approaching the solution of all problems will often make us nervously shuffle our legs. Emotions reach their zenith here, especially since the creators once again proved that they do not lack their imagination. Although some of the threads are actually predictable, there is no shortage of surprising twists that will play on the nose even of veterans of the series. In addition, for the first time in the history of the series, we can conduct the discussion in an alternative way – do not expect strong changes in the plot, however, because it is still characterized by a linear character.
The world of Danganronpa has always been a totally exaggerated environment. It is no different in this case. The action takes place at the Academy for Remarkably Gifted Youth, and the heroes are an incredibly colorful and twisted group of characters. Their clothing, background, skills and personality are the result of exaggerating some of the features that reflect the talent. This makes them memorable and extremely interesting people. The credit for this is also a great cast, because the Japanese voices were re-recorded with the actors and they are perfect for their roles. The actors enhance the character of the characters even more, giving them an authentic soul.
The graphic style again presents the heroes in the form of flat mockups. However, switching to a new generation of hardware made the game much nicer. The three-dimensional environment has acquired noticeably more details and is more complex. What hurts is the low quality and resolution of some textures – at least in the PSV version. Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony is a huge game and production stuffed to the brim with content. In the case of the portable version, the creators did not manage to cram everything into the limited Vita medium. Low-quality audio can be fixed by downloading the appropriate file from the PS Store, which also includes Japanese dubbing. Unfortunately, we cannot fix textures this way. It’s good, however, that the specific artistic style masks most of the flaws and the game on a small screen looks decent. The diverse soundtrack is undoubtedly a great advantage. Both remixes of old songs and new compositions developed by Masafumi Takada translate into the unique nature of the game. When the music is perfectly matched to the events on the screen, the most important scenes are accompanied by the right atmosphere. This is also another element that gives the series its own inimitable identity.
The latest Danganronpa is also the biggest and the best installment of the whole series … at least so far. Aside from the slow introduction, the first chapter is an earthquake and a fan troll like the memorable MGS2 by Hideo Kojima. Then things get better and each of the following hearings raises the bar even higher, constantly surprising with something new. But when I got to the final, I immediately hated the prepared ending. It is bold, shocking and beyond the bounds of absurdity. The climax turned my perception of the series upside down. I did not want that ending and it was difficult for me to accept it. After a while, I realized that I was caught in an amazing trap set by the creators. The finale is an act of genius in its stupidity, and was meant to arouse exactly the emotions I mentioned – it’s almost directly said. As I cooled down, I realized that this solution is definitely something better than the safe cutting off of coupons, which I was counting on. I have to admit that I have not dealt with such an ending in the history of games – except in the form of a joke or a parody.
It took me over 37 hours to get to the credits – it was a real roller coaster ride and an emotional swing that proved that fiction can have a strong influence on reality. You have to believe me, too, that I was in a rush and had a lot of stuff left to max. In addition to learning about history, we can spend time in the casino, where we are dealing with a slightly different variation of mini-games with the possibility of setting records. There are also comedy cutscenes at the Kumasutra Hotel where there are intimate close-ups with other characters. During the game, we can also develop relationships with characters, which allows us to better understand their past and gain special skills to use in trials. I didn’t even mention the post-game activities, where we’ll unlock access to a card game, a simple board game, and a turn-based RPG with dungeon crawling. Danganronpa V3 he is a veritable behemoth embarrassing other representatives of the species! In its glory, the title is almost perfect and I can recommend it even to those who do not like visual novels, because there is a lot of clean and diverse gameplay here.