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Review

Review: Danganronpa V3

Switch to: deDeutsch

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.

Conclusion

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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