Review: Danganronpa V3

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Com­ing after both the disap­poin­ting Ultra Des­pair Girls and Dang­an­ron­pa 3, Dang­an­ron­pa V3 marks a return to form for the series. It may not be the per­fect sequel that peop­le have been wai­ting for, but V3 is still worthwhile for fans of the series.

Dang­an­ron­pa V3 starts off some­what simi­lar­ly to the pre­vious main­li­ne games. Waking up insi­de an unfa­mi­li­ar class­room, Kaede Aka­matsu rea­li­ses that she has been kid­nap­ped by an unknown group. After mee­ting up with ano­t­her stu­dent, Shui­chi Saiha­ra, they are cha­sed by lar­ge machi­nes into the school’s gym­na­si­um. Here they run into the Mono­ku­ma Kubs, along with series mas­cot Mono­ku­ma him­s­elf.

Lear­ning that they had their memo­ries sea­led away, the group of 14 stu­dents are given memo­ries of their “Ulti­ma­te Talents”, thus begin­ning the next kil­ling game. The ope­ning does a good job of set­ting up the rest of the game, sho­wing off the various cha­rac­ters and the situa­ti­on they are in. It doesn’t lea­ve qui­te a big an impres­si­on as the ope­ning to Dang­an­ron­pa 2, but I was still exci­ted to find out what hap­pens next.

The Dang­an­ron­pa series has always had a big focus on its diver­se cast of cha­rac­ters and I’d say this is one of the are­as V3 fails in. That’s not to say that they’re bad, but the­re are a lot more cha­rac­ters in this game that you can’t real­ly sym­pa­thise with. Many of them can come off as annoy­ing, making some of their ine­vi­ta­ble deaths have less impact. It’s still enjoy­a­ble to see their inter­ac­tions with each other, but it feels like the wri­ter went a litt­le too far try­ing to have the cast be as uni­que as pos­si­ble wit­hout thin­king about how play­ers will react to them.

Thank­ful­ly the­se cha­rac­ters never get too annoy­ing, though the same can’t be said about the sto­ry chap­ters mid­way through the game. As with Dang­an­ron­pa 1 and 2, when someo­ne is kil­led the sur­vi­vors must inves­ti­ga­te to find evi­dence on the kil­ler. This leads to a class tri­al which is used unmask the kil­ler and eli­mi­na­te them from the kil­ling game. This marks the end of the chap­ter, and this loop con­ti­nues for the ent­i­re game.

Inves­ti­ga­ti­ons play out simi­lar­ly to pre­vious Dang­an­ron­pa games. You search each area for various clues, from items to the tes­ti­mo­nies of other class­ma­tes. The­se sec­tions are usual­ly very line­ar, not allo­wing you to move to ano­t­her area until you find every clue in the cur­rent one. This does remo­ve the chan­ce of mis­sing a clue and being forced to back­track, but inves­ti­ga­ti­ons could have done with a few new game­play ele­ments to add a litt­le varie­ty.

Class tri­als are whe­re Dang­an­ron­pa V3 shows the most impro­ve­ment. The UI is more dyna­mic, with the text box rota­ting or swit­ching posi­ti­ons depen­ding on who’s speaking. Like the class tri­als in the pre­vious Dang­an­ron­pas, during tes­ti­mo­nies the dia­lo­gue spo­ken shows up on screen with cer­tain words high­light­ed. To pro­gress through the tri­al, you must shoot high­light­ed words with “truth bul­lets”. The­se are pie­ces of evi­dence collec­ted during the inves­ti­ga­ti­on and infor­ma­ti­on lear­ned during the tri­al.

Yel­low and blue words cor­re­spond to words that you dis­agree or agree with respec­tively. New to Dang­an­ron­pa V3 is the abi­li­ty to lie, which gives truth bul­lets the oppo­si­te mea­ning. The lie mecha­nic is requi­red at cer­tain points, but can also be used to unlock new events in each tri­al. The­se can be igno­red, but are the­re for play­ers who are obser­vant enough.

Ano­t­her set of new addi­ti­ons to V3 are panic and scrum deba­tes. When mul­ti­ple peop­le try to talk over each other, a panic deba­te starts. This splits the screen into mul­ti­ple parts, with each cha­rac­ter speaking simul­ta­ne­ous­ly. The solu­ti­on to panic deba­tes is usual­ly made pret­ty simp­le, but it’s a decent chan­ge of pace from the more order­ly deba­tes.

Scrum deba­tes take place if the group can’t agree on some­thing, causing them to take oppo­si­te sides of the argu­ment. Here, you’re tas­ked with matching up various key­words to the argu­ments being pre­sen­ted by the oppo­sing group. As with panic deba­tes the­se sec­tions aren’t too dif­fi­cult, but they fur­ther help add varie­ty to the class tri­als.

Some­thing that is less wel­co­me are the miniga­mes that appe­ar occa­sio­nal­ly during the class tri­als. Hangman’s Gam­bit Ver. 3.0 is the only true retur­ning minigame, but as the name sug­gests it’s been rewor­ked again. Orbs with let­ters pass across the screen and are hid­den by default, the play­er being able to cau­se their tem­pora­ry appearan­ce. The goal is to form a word based on the hint given to you. The rea­son this is ver­si­on 3 of the minigame is the fact that Hangman’s Gam­bit has always been the most frus­tra­ting one in the series, usual­ly requi­ring over­ly long words or sen­ten­ces to be made. This latest ite­ra­ti­on has been made far simp­ler, remo­ve the annoyan­ce but also any chal­len­ge that it could have offe­red.

Asi­de from Argu­ment Arma­ment, a short rhythm game that takes place near the end of each tri­al, the miniga­mes are just not that good. Psy­che Taxi, an old school racing minigame, takes far too long and is just used to repeat what has alrea­dy been said minu­tes ago. Mind Mine is honest­ly my least favou­rite minigame, as it’s just Mines­weeper wit­hout any skill or thin­king requi­red.

Psy­che Taxi is a good examp­le of Dang­an­ron­pa V3’s main flaw: It’s gene­ral­ly far too easy to figu­re out things befo­re the cha­rac­ters them­sel­ves under­stand what’s going on. You’ll often figu­re out some­thing befo­re the tri­al even starts, taking away some of the mys­te­ry during the tri­al its­elf. This is main­ly a pro­blem in the afo­re­men­tio­ned chap­ters mid­way though V3. The­se tri­als drag on for lon­ger than necessa­ry, sin­ce you alrea­dy know most of what hap­pen­ed but must wait for the cast to catch up.

The­se wea­ker chap­ters defi­ni­te­ly drag the sto­ry down, but the over­all nar­ra­ti­ve mana­ges to stay enga­ging even during the­se less inte­res­ting moments. The reward for making it through the­se wea­ker cases is an exci­ting fina­le that most play­ers will likely not see com­ing.

As I men­tio­ned ear­lier, Dang­an­ron­pa V3’s visu­als are noti­ce­ab­le more dyna­mic than the last two games, espe­ci­al­ly during class tri­als. The podi­ums, cha­rac­ters stand on, move during tri­als, allo­wing for less sta­tic sce­nes. The text its­elf also has more varie­ty, some­ti­mes having ani­ma­ti­ons rela­ting to what is being said at the time. Cha­rac­ters spri­tes are a litt­le lower reso­lu­ti­on than I’d like though, some­thing that is espe­ci­al­ly noti­ce­ab­le during clo­se-ups that hap­pen fre­quent­ly.

The game over­all runs well on the PS4, kee­ping a stea­dy frame­ra­te the majo­ri­ty of the time. The same can’t be said of the Vita ver­si­on, which can have trou­ble loa­ding new cha­rac­ters or chan­ging came­ra angles. It’s not too bad at first, but the small load times start to add up after a few hours. It’s easy to tell that the extra effec­ts are giving the Vita a hard time com­pa­red to the gene­ral­ly more sub­dued Dang­an­ron­pa 1 and 2.

Dang­an­ron­pa V3’s sound­track defi­ni­te­ly deser­ves a men­ti­on, brin­ging back the uni­que sounds the series is known for. A lot of tracks are sim­ply remi­xes of fami­li­ar Dang­an­ron­pa the­mes, but the­re are enough new songs here to stop it from being a com­ple­te copy. The new scrum deba­te the­me is sure to be a hit with play­ers, even if the mecha­nic its­elf isn’t as inte­res­ting as the sound­track play­ing along with it.


Even with a few missteps here and the­re, Dang­an­ron­pa V3 brings enough chan­ges to make it stand out from its pre­de­ces­sors. The visual­ly dyna­mic tri­als and impac­t­ful ending are sure to lea­ve a las­ting impres­si­on on play­ers for years to come.

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