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There's quite a bit of controversy over New Danganronpa V3 for various reasons, particularly the ending. I can understand and even agree with some of those complaints, but in the end, I enjoyed the game.
The story, despite having a set of 16 talented students and Monokuma, doesn't take place in Hope's Peak or any related location. Instead, it's in a new setting with a similar name, and while there are connections to the previous games, they can't be fully explained in a brief or spoiler-free manner. Still, the mainstays of the series- students working together to find a way to escape where they're trapped, and solve the mystery when one of their own is murdered.
The characters are a mixed lot, as always. Almost inevitably, some will get on your nerves at times, particularly those with the more annoying running gags, and you'll probably end up hating at least a few for one reason or another. That said, they do tend to have a surprising amount of depth if you do their Free Time Events, thereby getting to know them, so you should find a few that are likable and sympathetic.
The class trials are the best part of the game, and contain several notable improvements. While Hangman's Gambit can be a bit tedious, at least you don't have to worry about taking damage while looking for the letters you need. Debate Scrum is quite entertaining, since it requires quick thinking to counter arguments as they come. The ability to lie is also a welcome improvement, as not only does it often serve a useful purpose, you can also use lies instead of truth bullets if you think outside the box at certain points, thereby giving you alternative solutions to problems.
Of course, I have two major complaints about the game. The first is the first chapter's culprit, which, while surprising, feels like they were trying too hard to outdo previous twists, and is ultimately detrimental to the story. The second is the ending. I won't go so far as to call it insulting, but unlike the other games' endings, it doesn't do the job of answering all the questions that were raised throughout the game very well. Explaining my opinions on these points in the review would take up too much space(even without a word count limit) and involve spoilers, but I can elaborate in the comments section if necessary.
Those flaws aren't necessarily deal-breakers, though, but fans should be willing to approach them with an open mind- I might not like them, but I can accept them. If you can do that and enjoyed the previous games, I would recommend that you also play V3.
Looking at this game, I think that my biggest problem with it, even more than the controversial ending, is that it feels like there are so many points in the game where there was a wasted opportunity to do something truly different and new in the series. Be warned that this review contains unmarked spoilers.
The first waste is also the worst in my opinion. Kaede dies and Shuichi is the lead. Perhaps in hope of having a great twist, the writers took the positive, energetic girl and had her be a well-intentioned killer, making the POV be an uncertain boy supported in some way by the actions of a more confident girl. Something already seen in the first two games. I've heard the argument that Kaede would have been too charismatic, but given how afraid and dispirited the group was after the first failed escape attempt, I see no reason why it couldn't be a strong story about struggling to regain their confidence during the murders.
Next is the trials. Some new features are fairly fun, but the Lie option that was touted so much really doesn't feel like it's great, and after the first trial I didn't feel like there was often a good reason to use it. The trials themselves feel like it's following the formula the first two did. Some free time, some event clearly about to be a murder, murder and trial. No chapters without, say, a trial but some other danger, no chapter where the trial was anything other than the chapter's climax.
A lot of the characters don't feel like they're used to their full potential. One trial has the possibility that the team might be forced to live next to a murderer, but instead you just have to prove he committed two murders. Angie presents the issue of a religion forming and cracks splitting the group in two, but after that chapter the faith completely disappears, it didn't even feature in the trial and it feels like Angie's religion and her position in it is treated disrespectfully (and this is from an atheist). The Monokids might as well not exist for all the impact they make in the game, the possibility of new villains who might have different interests from Monokuma just briefly there and then gone.
On the final trial, I actually wouldn't say it's a waste so much as not set up well and if they didn't intend for the audience to feel like it was the target, they really should have handled the matter differently. And ironically the game where one is supposed to stop the trials and get away from the story is the one where they still largely kept the game to the past. But to be fair, I will admit that the investigation for the last trial is a place where they show creativity, though one that could use some refinement to avoid getting killed off so easily.
I wouldn't say absolutely don't get it. Some characters are interesting, some trials are still fun, the extra postgame content is fun (if not well explained). But it's definitely something to get on sale and not go in to find the evolution of the series.
This review contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.
As a fan of the Dangan Ronpa series, V3 contains everything I love about the series but with even more polish. But there is a sting in this tale that threatens to permanently sour my opinion of the series.
Before I get to that, I'll discuss the good: The characters remain the focus as always, and the game goes out of its way to make them likeable (or dislikeable) before sucker punching the player with their deaths. They are funny, tragic, annoying, lovable and more, helped by the excellent design, voice-acting and hidden depths most of them possess.
The murders and class trials are as enjoyable as ever, with the new Debate Scrum mechanic being the highlight. Despite what some have said I never found the murders predictable, and thought some of the twists to be inspired.
But some twists go too far...
The first five chapters of V3 are as good, if not better than the previous two games. But where those games took the premise of the story and turned them on their heads in the final chapter, V3 takes a massive dump all over the series, with an ending which is downright insulting to long-time fans.
To sum up the ending: the first two games weren't real in-universe. That's right; Dangon Ronpa 1 & 2 were just games that go so popular that the world decided to defictionalise them into a reality show (of which V3 is the 53rd instalment!) So all those characters and scenes you loved from before now mean absolutely nothing.
Was this supposed to be some meta-commentary on the popularity of a murder game? Are the developers blaming the fans for the character's deaths, claiming we have some morbid obsession with death and murder? If so it's a massive up-yours to the fans, and like Spec-Ops: The Line, the criticism fall flat for two reasons:
1) The emotions we associate with fictional characters are nothing like we feel for real people. We may shed a tear when a character dies, or feel a tingle when they're found dead, but we know they're fictional. If these were real we'd be complete wrecks. To claim we're awful people for liking these things misses the entire point of escapism.
2) The developers had to put as much love and devotion into making the damn game in order for it to be as good as it is. Are they not equally responsible for the success of Dangan Ronpa as the fans are? To say this is ungrateful is a hell of an understatement.
I've heard the developers may not have intended the ending to be read this way, but if so they dropped the ball hard. Having the final boss be a fight against the entire internet making legitimate complaints, resulting in your victory putting people off Dangan Ronpa forever, just seems petulant.
Whatever the truth is, the ending leaves a sour taste in my mouth. A real shame for something with so much potential to ruin it all at the last minute. I hope that future instalments (if they ever make any) remedy this awful ending.
I feel somewhat disgusted by V3. To some people it can be seen as a form of genius, a meta-commentary on games, human desire, and the entertainment industry. To me, its a trashy game made by a creator that has forgotten what made the series special and has come to loathe the fanbase that supported his work.
As a game, Dangan Ronpa V3 does a serviceable job as an entry in the series. There are dynamic interactions between the characters, Monokuma has funny lines, the series has solid music to fit all the events that occur in the plot. However, the Monokubs aren't really very funny aside from Monokuma's threats to kill them, and seem to overwhelm the player with dialogue, especially at the beginning where the five of them and Monokuma, speak to the cast of 16 students. I never liked any of them. Relationships between students are nearly all dysfunctional which causes potential drama, but it wasn't until the second half that I grew to care about some of the characters.
The big divider for is the ending. From a positive perspective, it is not predictable, nor repetitive. It really changed the perspective of the game and the actions in it. It has a strong understanding of a central theme that it tries to convey to the audience.
However, the ending isn't predictable because there aren't any real hints to it. A lot of the foreshadowing is misinformation that makes much of the plot feel pointless. Then the twist ending renders the characters pointless. Finally, the ending seems to cross YouBastard with TakeThatAudience sucking the fun out of the gameplay. All which occurs during a heavy-handed 4 hour trial that feels twice as long. All the while connecting to previous entries in a way that cheapens them. The other trials can be enjoyable, but the final trial sours any enjoyment that can be gathered from the game. There are a ton of bonus features after the game but I never bothered with any of them because the final trial rendered me apathetic to the series. The entire series, including previous entries.
If you are looking for another mystery game, then V3 can satisfy your interests for the first five trials. However, it never surpasses its previous entries and the final trial can kill any interest you have in Dangan Ronpa just the way it did for me.
Between this and Zero Time Dilenma's "complicated" ending I've grown tired of Chunsoft's nihilistic post modern streak. What's the use of creating sympathetic characters if the game's plot twists make the audience hate them anyway? I'm not buying Zanki Zero when it comes out because even if it doesn't follow the same trend, its sequels eventually will.
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