Danganronpa V3 is the fourth game in the series, developed by Spike Chunsoft and localised by NIS America. The series is well known for its dark humour and a rather bizarre take on various subjects (V3 contains things ranging from brutal deaths to Incest).
The main-game Premise revolves around a killer Teddy bear, called Monokuma, who gathers a group of ‘Ultimates’ (Students who are the best in their field) and forces them to play his ‘Killing game’, this involves the students having to kill each other without being caught/found out if they wish to ‘Graduate’ (escape). The game is similar to Ace Attorney mixed with a dating sim – in that you hang out with people, explore, investigate murders and then have a court case to deduct who the actual murder is.
The games are fully stand-alone, but I would recommend playing them in the following order: DR1, DR2, DR: Ultra Despair Girls, Danganronpa 3 Anime, Danganronpa V3 – This will ensure you don’t get subjected to spoilers from the later games/anime, and can fully understand the universe you’re in.
The story begins with you waking up within the ‘Ultimate Academy’ with no memory of how you got there. You meet up with the other fifteen Students within the Gym (who also have no recollection of why they are there) and you get introduced to the familiar antagonist of the series, Monokuma. However, this time he has his ‘Monokubs’, which are five new Monokumas with their own unique personalities who refer to Monokuma as their ‘Daddy’.
Danganronpa V3 plays very similar to 1 and 2 (ultra despair girls, not included), in that the chapters are basically comprised of free-roam (exploring the school and getting to know your classmates), Investigation (investigating whatever event occurs) and the Class Trial (The main crux of the gameplay). The game is presented as a flat comic book style with the majority of interactions taking place with still images which change based on the emotions being presented; however, the free-roaming sections are performed from a first-person viewpoint with the added ability to ‘slap’ objects which are within the various rooms you encounter. This is a new mechanic in the game which allows you to explore more thoroughly than you could in previous games.
The characters and their development was one of the biggest positives of the game, for me. Usually, in a game like this, I will become attached to the main character and don’t really care about the other ‘supporting’ characters as they don’t usually interest me. However, the Danganronpa series wants you to care about each and every character within the school – from Kaede (your character who is a plain Jane with only her Ultimate Skill that sets her apart) to Miu (a rather eccentric mechanic who loves to swear and comment on her ‘assets’ in pretty much every conversation) – so much that when the first death appears in the game, you feel like you have lost something.
However, the deaths that really affected me emotionally were the class trial deaths – I’m not going to go into them too much though, as I don’t want to spoil anything. I shed a tear when the victims and/or the culprits were ‘removed’ from the game, just because of how attached I was and how I didn’t want to lose one of my ‘friends’ with who I had spent a large chunk of my time with. Especially when you hear the subtle music and the reasoning behind the outcome of the trials.
The main ‘gameplay’ has to be within the Class Trials. Whilst you are investigating the murders you will obtain evidence and statements from classmates and the environment – these can be used in the trials in various ways. Players who have played previous games will instantly recognise the non-stop debates and Truth Blades, which require you to shoot/slice your evidence at the contradictory statements. However, they’ve brought a few new mechanics into play this time which will have you driving a taxi to answer specific questions, figuring out a specific word having only being given the letters, breaking blocks to reveal a clue, and more.
The game also brings back the ‘Closing Argument’ section from previous games where you are presented with a comic book with missing panels, it’s then up to you to place the correct panels back on the pages. This works perfectly with the style of the game and even plays back to give you a full overview of the final outcome once completed, as a kind of cutscene/confirmation of your deductions.
The Class trials appear to be a lot longer than in previous games, with these taking roughly 2-3 hours per trial (on standard speed and reading all the text), with an intermission set in the middle which allows you to save your game.
Other than the Class Trials, there are also other things to pass the time such as an item machine (which gives you new items to use as gifts), a casino with a few mini-games based loosely on the trials above to earn coins to get more gifts, ‘hidden’ mini-Monokumas to find, and a few other surprise events which you wouldn’t expect in a Danganronpa game.
Once you finish the game you unlock 2 new games, Ultimate Talent Development Plan and Salmon Team, there is also another game that unlocks after you have played Talent Plan called Despair Dungeon – Monokuma’s Test
Salmon Team, if you have played previous games in the series, is basically ‘school mode’ but without the time management aspect. What this means is, Monokuma has decided not to hold the killing game and would rather just see which students would end up ‘hooking up with each other’ within 10 days.
The gameplay is simple – you have 2 actions per day to talk to/go on a date with any of the students to build your ‘hearts’ (relationship level) followed by the casino, which is where you can play mini-games and purchase more gifts to give the students. Any skills unlocked carry over to the main game.
Ultimate Talent Development Plan is a new feature for Danganronpa. You pick a student and basically play a board game which results in you levelling up certain stats and gaining abilities. At first, I wasn’t sure what the purpose of this was; however, Monokuma’s Test was then unlocked! Monokuma’s Test is basically a dungeon crawler where you take along the students you have trained. I haven’t got very far in it, but it looks like you can unlock students from all 3 games using the in-game currency which you gain by completing floors in Monokuma’s Test.
This looks and works really well, although it does appear to be time-consuming and probably as frustrating as the ‘Magical Miracle Girl Monomi’ game from Danganronpa 2.
These three games aren’t available until you finish the main story though as they contain a lot of spoilers regarding what happens within the main-game storyline.
I freaking love Danganronpa V3! If you enjoy visual novels, dark humour, and puzzle-solving, then you can easily sit down and get lost in it (it took me 56 hours to complete my playthrough of this) – I can’t recommend it enough. The graphical style won’t be for everyone, but for me, it fits in with the previous games and the whole comic book/graphic novel style it is trying to pull off. The music is great and really sets the mood along with the voice acting (which I had set to English, but you can play in Japanese if you wish), however not everything is voiced, so there is a lot of reading – you get the occasional one-liner from the person you are speaking too, but full-on VO is reserved mainly for cutscenes and the Trials.
If you have played the previous games or any of the Nonary games, this should already be a purchase you have made!
If you are still on the fence though, there is a demo on Steam (the PSN one was removed when Spike Chunsoft relisted it as a title published by them) which allows you to play out a fictional scenario (this isn’t in the main game, it’s been created to introduce you to the mechanics and the gameplay of the series):