Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony
The Danganronpa series has many staples we have come to love. We can expect a group of eclectic ultimate high school students, masters of their respective arts. We can guess they'll be faced with death somehow, usually at the hands of their own classmates. And of course, we can count on their suffering being mocked by the merciless cackle of the one and only Monokuma.
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, the upcoming entry in the series, sticks to this classic formula, but makes it shine with a bevy of brand new features. In my hands-on time with the PS4 import version of Killing Harmony, I discovered plenty of nods to the original titles; the 8-bit Monopad, giving presents and forming social connections, and exploration segments all make a return. But what enthralled me most was the changes that set this game apart from its predecessors. Here’s a look at six differences Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony brings to the series.
More Crazy Ultimates
If you thought the original casts of super-powered high schoolers were eccentric, just wait until you meet the newest victims of the killing game. Starring all-new students with talents ranging from aikido to folklore to entomology, these teens have wackier personalities and more secrets than their predecessors. Will you team up with the ultimate astronaut? Can you rely on the ultimate magician? Getting to know these characters is one of the most exciting parts of Killing Harmony.
A Different School
Though I didn’t know exactly where I was, it's clear it isn't the same Hope’s Peak Academy of previous titles. Spike Chunsoft has stated the game was intended to be played with a PS4 Pro on a 4K TV, and it’s obvious why. The game is visually stunning, shown off to great effect in the school's huge, vibrant hallways and classrooms. In my time wandering, searching, and even running through the building, I found a number of intriguing locations, such as a music room, warehouse, and cafeteria. I'm can't wait to find out what’s hiding behind all the locked doors and barbed wire of this strange new academy.
Killing Harmony boasts a new aesthetic the developers refer to as “psycho cool." This shows not only in the character designs and environment, but also new animation sequences. In the first of these gorgeous cutscenes, the protagonist, Kaede, undergoes a magical transformation that exchanges her bland school uniform for an outfit that reflects her status as the school’s ultimate pianist. The animation is sharp and colorful, and it adds a layer of depth to the visual novel that enhanced my immersion in the psycho cool world.
A Fresh Theme
Those familiar with the previous Danganronpa games and anime know the central theme of hope and despair well. Killing Harmony brings that arc to a close and introduces a new one: lying. As if it wasn’t already difficult enough to trust anyone in a game of death, this theme throws doubt on everyone around you. Is this person telling me the truth? What about her? Or him? Each character has their own philosophy on honesty and deception, and seeing them all play off of each other is sure to be entertaining and dramatic.
High-stakes Trial Games
Classroom trials are still a core feature of Killing Harmony, but they include a host of new mini-games. In one game, the students split into two opposing factions, leaving the player to sort through their statements and match them up according to the evidence. Another resembles Mario Kart, with players driving over power-up question blocks to use in their search for answers. Most interesting is the inclusion of a lie bullet during trials. Tying into the game’s new theme, the protagonist can intentionally lie to dig deeper into an argument and find the hidden truth.
NIS America assured me Monokuma will appear in Killing Harmony, but I didn’t see him during my time with the game. What I did see were his five adorable, but just as evil, cubs. Colorful and bursting with personality, these tiny bears served as principal in Monokuma’s absence, chasing me with giant robots and keeping me out of rooms I wasn't allowed to enter. Each cub has a distinct character, from the gentle pink cub to the silent, robotic green cub to the Kiss-reminiscent blue cub. Thanks to their shenanigans, I hardly missed Monokuma at all.
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony will release for PS4 and PS Vita on September 26, 2017. Stay tuned for more news about the game and check out Danganronpa 1-2 Reload and Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls in the meantime.