Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony mobile review – “A long and winding road”

Blood, gore and death are all-too-normal in this narrative-driven murder mystery game, but thanks to its stylised visuals, stomaching gruesome killings doesn’t seem so bad. In Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, players are tasked with murdering one another in a twisted “killing game” and then figuring out who the culprit is in a trial. The concept is pretty similar to past titles in the series, but is this instalment worth a go for both fans and non-fans alike?


Table of contents:

DANGANRONPA V3: KILLING HARMONY STORY AND VISUALS

As the game starts, players wake up with no recollection of they got to where they are – only that they’re supposed to be enrolled in this odd little academy where you’ll have to kill to succeed. A group of 16 very distinct characters pool together to try and escape the murderous school, guided only by an odd animatronic bear called Monokuma and his equally odd “children” called the Monokubs.

The goal of the so-called killing game is seemingly simple: someone has to be murdered to progress, and if the murderer is outed, then that culprit is executed in a horrific display of gore and irony. Sure, the blood is pink, but each death still paints a pretty vivid image that will force its way into your brain and settle there nice and snug.

In stark contrast to the theme of the title, the visuals feature stylised artwork and gorgeous comic-book-esque character designs, with 2D movements that almost simulate a pop-up storybook. The lovely music in the background also contradicts the dark tones of the game, which does a brilliant job of lulling you to a false sense of security throughout the narrative.

DANGANRONPA V3: KILLING HARMONY CONTROLS

For the mobile release, I paid particular attention to how the controls were ported onto my iOS device. While the point-and-click aspect of the game feels very intuitive – as you’ll simply have to tap at items to interact with them – things do get a little complicated when you need to tap certain objects that are far too close to each other. In one particular instance, I had to tap at my door to exit the room, but since there was a character standing in front of the door, I kept accidentally tapping at him instead of where I actually wanted to go.

Another issue I encountered was when I was trying to navigate a platforming mini-game using the virtual D-pad on the left side of my screen and a jump button on the right side. Somehow, the controls just wouldn’t cooperate with me, as trying to leap through ravines seemed almost impossible given the wonky on-screen controls. Granted, this particular mini-game is apparently designed to be extremely difficult, but I’m just not sure whether or not the controls are unresponsive on purpose.

The mobile auto-save function, on the other hand, does come in handy during unexpected mistakes. However, logging off at any given point in time doesn’t actually bring you back exactly where you left off upon logging back in. You can create manual saves if you wish, but it’s really not something I often think about before logging out of a mobile game.

I did appreciate how you can fast-travel to various waypoints on the map, as the school is pretty expansive. You can’t always travel to where you want to go when there are specific instances you need to walk through, but it’s a handy feature that saves you a lot of time and grief especially when you feel like you’re onto something and you don’t want to break your momentum.

WHAT’S THE APPEAL?

Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony has been out for a while now on other platforms, so many players will likely already be familiar with its concept and twisted narrative. I wasn’t able to play the previous titles in the series, but I didn’t feel like I needed to while playing this game. Characters feel fresh and unique, and the gameplay, while eccentric, does grow on you with each new chapter.

What I didn’t particularly enjoy was how long and dragging each scene was. The dialogue feels awkward and a little over-the-top, but it would have been more tolerable if I didn’t have to linger too long on these lines of tacky conversation and unnecessary scenes.

The murder mysteries themselves are absolutely genius – there are red herrings everywhere and the plot-writing is simply brilliant. You’re not going to get by simply by skipping scenes or auto-ing your way through the text here – you really have to put on your thinking cap to figure out who’s telling the truth (using Truth Bullets, which is pretty awesome).

It’s just a shame that it takes too darn long to get there, and the Class Trials held at the end of each chapter to determine the culprit take forever too. It doesn’t help that there’s a repetitive loop here as each murder is performed. The game also tries to offer these social commentaries every now and then, which feels a little on the nose at times.

Thankfully, there are plenty of pop culture references that help break up the monotony – plus, murders are so disturbing, and the executions even more so. You can roam around and build bonds with other characters during Free Time, as well as explore the campus if you feel like taking a break from all the killing. And when you do get to the conclusion of each case, the payoff is pretty good – it just feels like it takes too long to get there.

By the way, make sure that your device has enough free space for the extra data download, as it’s a pretty expansive game.

 

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