Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Publisher: Spike Chunsoft, NIS America
Platform(s): PS4, Vita, PC
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The final instalment in the Danganronpa franchise brings the killing game to a whole new playing field. Filled with even more twists and turns than the previous main series games, Danganronpa V3 is absolutely crazy. It’s best if you play it after having played the other two games in the series, but it can be played by itself, too.
Next to the fast-paced music just like that of past games, Danganronpa V3 has an even crazier cast of characters than usual. You have everything from K1-B0, the Ultimate Robot, who’s as close to human as it gets and also happens to be a strong voice for robot rights and actively fights against robophobia, to Kokichi Ouma, the Ultimate Supreme Leader, a despicable little brat who you either absolutely hate with every fibre of your being or find cute and funny. Danganronpa V3 subverts expectations in every way possible. Take it as a rule of thumb that the murderer is not who you think they are.
The premise for Danganronpa V3 is almost the same as for the first two games in the series: A class of 16 “Ultimate” students who are the best at what they do are trapped at Hope’s Peak Academy and forced to kill each other to get out. The only difference is that while in the first two games, a murder happened of its own accord, in this one, the group, despite having their differences, refuses to murder each other (until after the first murder). The twists start in the first game, hitting you hard and not letting you rest until the game is over.
Essentially Danganronpa is all about trust, hope, despair, and many other topics that mentioning would only make the game sound pseudo-philosophical. The game actually handles them in a way that gets you thinking, although rather near the end of the game. The game starts as innocently as a game about students killing each other can start, seeming to be just another game in the series of point and click detective games with dating simulator elements, but the ending punches that in the face. It’s also the greatest possible “fuck you” to everyone complaining that the game is the last in the series.
The gameplay is such a mix of different styles that it’s not quite easy to describe at first look, starting with dating simulator visual novel elements, moving to Ace Attorney-style crime scene investigation, then switching to literally shooting people’s arguments down. For good measure, minigames are thrown in the court arguments, too, be it for finding new possibilities or making the murderer admit their deeds.
The main villain in Danganronpa is a tricky one. Monokuma and his 5 Monokubs are a bunch of jolly bear robots with too many bear puns up their sleeves and drama to top your average soap opera. On the other hand, however, you have Kokichi Oma who likes to get on everyone’s nerves. Is he really everything he says he is or is he just lying?
On top of that conflict, you don’t know who the mastermind behind everything is. They could be one of the students, could be someone controlling everything from the outside, or could even be an AI of sorts. Whoever it turns out to be, you won’t see it coming. That’s a promise, one that is true for everything that happens in this game. It hits you with so many twists that not having the dating simulator parts in between the cases would probably mean that players end the game in the fetal position in a corner, doubting existence itself.
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