Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony
|Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony|
Cover art, featuring Monokuma (top left) and the students of Ultimate Academy
|Platform(s)||PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Microsoft Windows|
|Release||PlayStation 4, PS Vita|
|Genre(s)||Adventure, visual novel|
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony[a] is a visual novel adventure game developed by Spike Chunsoft for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita and Microsoft Windows. It is the third main title in the Danganronpa series and the first in the franchise to be developed for home consoles. The game was released in Japan in January 2017, and in North America and Europe by NIS America that September. A Microsoft Windows version was also released at the same time.
Danganronpa V3 continues the same style of gameplay as the first two Danganronpa games, which is split into School Life, Deadly Life, and Class Trial segments. During School Life, players interact with other characters and progress through the story until coming across a murder and entering the Deadly Life, after which they must gather evidence for use in the Class Trial. Roaming around the world and interacting with objects during both School Life and Deadly Life will yield experience points for the player. Experience points are used to level up and with each level players obtain more skill points which enable the player to equip skills to help with Class Trials. Like in previous games, Class Trials largely revolve around the Non-Stop Debate, in which characters discuss the case, with the player required to use Truth Bullets containing evidence against highlighted statements determining whether someone is lying or telling the truth. During Non-Stop debates that appear to have no clear contradictions, players can now use Lie Bullets to break the conversation with a False Counter. Returning from Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair are Rebuttal Showdowns, in which the player must debate with a specific character in order to reach a contradiction.
Danganronpa V3 adds new gameplay elements to the Class Trials. Mass Panic Debates involve multiple characters talking over each other, making finding the correct statement harder, while Debate Scrums have groups of characters argue against each other, requiring the player to use statements from their side against the other side's statements. New mini-games are also added. Epiphany Anagram 3.0 requires players to use light to pick out letters spelling out an answer. Excavation Imagination is a puzzle game requiring players to remove colored blocks in order to reveal an illustration. Finally, Brain Drive sees players driving a car, collecting letters for a question that they must then answer.
As in the previous games, there are also various modes outside the main game. The Death Road of Despair minigame is accessible by visiting the area under the manhole in the school: it is a platform game intentionally designed with a very high difficulty level, in which all 16 students try to escape the Ultimate Academy for Gifted Juveniles while trying to evade bombs, traps and holes. After finishing the main game, other modes are unlocked. Salmon Team Mode is an alternate mode similar to School Mode and Island Mode in the previous games, in which Monokuma decides to cancel the killing game and turn it into a dating reality show, allowing players to bond with the other characters. There are also two brand-new modes. The first one, Ultimate Talent Development Plan, has the player choosing any character from Danganronpa V3 (or from Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, after unlocking their cards) and advancing in an 8-bit game board representing their school life at Hope's Peak Academy while they increase their skills and interact with other characters. After completing this mode for the first time, a new mode is unlocked, Despair Dungeon: Monokuma's Test, where the player uses the characters developed in Ultimate Talent Development Plan to stop a horde of Monokuma creatures unleashed by the Monokuma Kubs in an 8-bit turn-based RPG game.
High school student Kaede Akamatsu is kidnapped and awakens in the Ultimate Academy for Gifted Juveniles,[b] where she meets fellow student Shuichi Saihara and 14 others. The group is abruptly accosted by a series of bear robots also known as the Monokubs who expose them to a "Flashback Light". When Kaede next awakes, she remembers her life as the Ultimate Pianist, while Shuichi is the Ultimate Detective. Their other classmates each have their own talents and histories. Monokuma arrives and informs the students that the only way to escape is to successfully kill another student and get away with it in a subsequent Class Trial. If nobody is killed within two days, Monokuma will prematurely end the game by killing all of the students.
Shuichi reasons that there must be a mastermind controlling Monokuma, and Kaede works with him to set a trap to expose the mastermind just prior to the time limit. However, concerned that there would not be enough time to stop the mastermind, Kaede secretly alters the trap to kill the person it catches. Unfortunately, amnesiac Rantaro Amami is caught and killed instead of the mastermind. During the following class trial, Kaede attempts to uncover the mastermind but fails. She confesses to her crime, encourages Shuichi to keep going, and is executed.
Although brokenhearted at Kaede's death, Shuichi soon develops a friendship with the Ultimate Astronaut, Kaito Momota, and the Ultimate Assassin, Maki Harukawa. Several more murders take place, all of which Shuichi is able to solve, though he is often vexed by the Ultimate Supreme Leader, Kokichi Oma. The students find additional Flashback Lights and gradually remember that they are students of the reopened Hope's Peak Academy, who were sent into space in the hopes of preserving humanity after meteors began to fall upon the Earth and a deadly epidemic had ravaged the remainder of the population. Kokichi reveals the outside world to be destroyed and claims to have returned the spaceship to Earth and masterminded the killing game before kidnapping Kaito.
Shuichi, Maki, and the other students stage a rescue mission with the aim of saving Kaito and stopping the game, only to discover an unrecognizable corpse. Further complicating the mystery is the arrival of a massive Exisal mech—one of five previously piloted by Monokuma's children—whose unseen pilot sounds and identifies himself as Kokichi but bears the idiosyncrasies of both Kokichi and Kaito. During the ensuing trial, it becomes clear that Kokichi was not the mastermind and only claimed as such to stop the killing game: Kokichi convinced Kaito to kill him and then pretend to be Kokichi in the hopes of creating a crime Monokuma could not solve and defeat the game. His identity exposed, Kaito emerges from the Exisal and urges the survivors to uncover the truth before being executed.
Unwilling to continue the game, the Ultimate Robot, K1-B0, decides to destroy the school, giving Shuichi until dawn to find the mastermind. Shuichi, Maki, and the other survivors - the Ultimate Magician Himiko Yumeno and the Ultimate Cosplayer Tsumugi Shirogane - investigate the school and discover evidence contradicting their memories, as well as inconsistencies in Rantaro's crime scene. They further learn that Rantaro was the Ultimate Survivor, having taken part in a previous killing game. Shuichi calls a final class trial to re-try Rantaro's case.
At the trial, Shuichi accuses Tsumugi of being the mastermind, having killed Rantaro and framed Kaede. Tsumugi confesses and reveals that the students' memories, talents, relationships, and personalities are entirely fake, the Flashback Light being a brainwashing device and the destroyed world being a sound stage. The students are in fact taking part in "Danganronpa 53 (V3)", the 53rd season of a lethal reality TV show watched by millions based on the fictional Danganronpa media franchise. All of the Ultimates, barring K1-B0, were ordinary individuals who willingly had their previous lives' memories permanently erased in exchange for a talent and a fake background; many, including Shuichi, Kaede, and Kaito, are revealed to have joined purely for fame, fortune, or the thrill of the game, and were far less trusting and altruistic than their killing game selves. K1-B0 is revealed to be the camera for the viewers, and possesses an antenna that lets him hear the audience's opinions on the show, who encourage him to battle Tsumugi's despair with hope. Tsumugi offers the students the choice: "hope", where she is executed but the students must choose two of their own to take part in the next killing game as Rantaro, a survivor of the 52nd season, did; or "despair", where K1-B0 will be executed and the game will continue.
Realizing either choice will still continue the killing game, Shuichi encourages the students to abstain from voting, meaning everyone will be executed but the killing game will also end. The viewers hack K1-B0 and force him to serve only as a conduit for viewer votes, but Shuichi uses this to make an impassioned plea directly to the viewers to stop watching. At the vote, all parties abstain including Tsumugi and K1-B0, the former willing to sacrifice herself to continue Danganronpa and the latter indicating the audience has given up on Danganronpa. As the remaining viewers tune out, a defeated Tsumugi orders K1-B0 to destroy the school. He does so, killing Tsumugi in the process, then activates his self-destruct feature and deliberately flies into the glass dome surrounding the school, sparing the others and allowing them to escape. Shuichi, Maki, and Himiko consider the possibility that Tsumugi was lying about their past selves willingly signing up to participate in Danganronpa, and about the original editions of Danganronpa being fiction, and depart for the real world.
Danganronpa V3 was produced by Yoshinori Terasawa, and planned and written by Kazutaka Kodaka, while the character design is done by Rui Komatsuzaki. The game was developed at the same time as the production of the anime series Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School, which Terasawa and Kodaka described as being difficult; they still try to develop both projects without making any compromises, as such an opportunity does not arise often. The "V3" in the game's title was chosen to differentiate it from the anime; the "V" is short for "Victory". Terasawa and Kodaka described the game's production level as being much higher than that of previous games in the series.
There was division among the staff in the development team regarding whether the game should be a sequel or something new; because of this, it was decided to make something that was both a sequel and new. The game's theme is described as "psycho-cool". As with previous games in the series, the game's original score was composed and produced by Masafumi Takada.
Promotion and release
The existence of a third Danganronpa title was first teased in September 2013 with the announcement of Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls. In March 2015, Kodaka revealed that Danganronpa 3 was in early development. The game was announced at Sony's Tokyo Game Show presentation.
The game was released for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita in January 12, 2017 in Japan. A playable demo featuring Makoto Naegi and Hajime Hinata, the protagonists of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, was released on December 20, 2016. The limited edition of the game will include an original video animation based on Goodbye Despair, titled Super Danganronpa 2.5: Komaeda Nagito to Sekai no Hakaisha. Coinciding with the game's Japanese release, Danganronpa V3-themed PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita consoles will be released in Japan. NIS America released the game in English on September 26, 2017.
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony was well received by critics, and was the second highest rated PlayStation Vita game and fiftieth highest rated PlayStation 4 game of 2017 on the review aggregator Metacritic.
Danganronpa V3 was awarded by Famitsu with a score of 37/40 Within its first week of release in Japan, the PlayStation Vita version sold 76,166 copies, whilst the PlayStation 4 version sold 40,006. By February 2017, the PlayStation Vita version had sold over 115,840 copies in Japan. The Steam release had an estimated total of 73,400 players by July 2018.
The game was nominated for "Best Visual Novel" in PC Gamer's 2017 Game of the Year Awards; for "Best Portable Game" in Destructoid's Game of the Year Awards 2017; and for "Best Adventure Game" and "Most Innovative" in IGN's Best of 2017 Awards. It won the award for "Best Plot Twist" in Game Informer's 2017 Adventure Game of the Year Awards. In addition, the game was nominated for "Game, Franchise Adventure" at the 17th Annual National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers Awards.
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