Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony review for PS Vita, PS4

Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PS4, PC
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Medium: Digital/Vita Card/Disc
Players: 1
Online: No

My love for the Danganronpa series should be pretty well established by this point. I was blown away by the first one. I adored the second one. I was rather fond of the third one, despite/because of the fact it saw the series abandon its usual adventure/Ace Attorney-style roots, opting to become a third-person shooter instead.

Somehow, though, despite all that, my reaction to Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony is basically indifference.

It’s not like anything has changed this time out. You still have Monokuma at the centre of everything, as rude and insulting and murderous as ever. You still have a group of 16 “ultimate” students, trapped together in a school. You still have the trials, where the students determine who amongst them is a murder and which end in the death of the unlucky parties. And, of course, it’s still all incredibly stylish.

I think it’s that “still” in the paragraph above that’s bugging me. No matter how cool the game may look or how diabolical Monokuma may be, it’s all starting to feel a little rote by now. The specifics of the characters’ “ultimate” abilities may have changed, but they all still conform to various archetypes that will be familiar to anyone who’s played the previous games. Likewise, the school at which the game takes place may be a little bigger than the settings of the previous games, but just because there’s more rooms to explore doesn’t mean that you’re doing anything particularly different in them. It’s still an adventure game where you’re looking for clues and chatting with/questioning classmates; having more, in this respect, isn’t inherently better.

Unfortunately, Danganronpa V3 seems to believe the opposite, and takes the “more is better” approach at every opportunity. Like Monokuma? Then you’ll be happy to hear that there’s basically six more versions of him here, as represented by the six Monokubs who first welcome the students. Like the interactions between the students? Then, again, you’ll be pleased to hear that this game draws out their conversations, giving you even more opportunities to read them fretting about whether one of them could secretly be a murderer.

Just about the only new thing this time around is the ending, which arguably recontextualizes the entire series in a way that’s sure to leave some people infuriated.

Personally, though? I don’t think that a controversial, divisive ending changes the fact that everything that comes before it is basically just 35+ hours of more of the same. If you’re a PS4 owner, of course, all of this will seem new and kind of scandalous, so I can see why it may appeal to some people, but for Vita owners hoping that the previous Danganronpa game marked a new direction for the series, Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony will represent a bit of a step back to the safe and familiar (to the extent, obviously, that Danganronpa could ever be described as “safe”).

NIS America provided us with a Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony PS Vita code/copy for review purposes.

Grade: B-