Welcome to a new world of Danganronpa, and prepare yourself for the biggest, most exhilarating episode yet. Set in a “psycho-cool” environment, a new cast of 16 characters find themselves kidnapped and imprisoned in a school. Inside, some will kill, some will die, and some will be punished. Reimagine what you thought high-stakes, fast-paced investigation was as you investigate twisted murder cases and condemn your new friends to death.
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This game honestly impressed me. While DR1 was a solid entry in the first place, V3 takes what 1 and even 2 did right, and put it all together to make a truly special experience. It is the best DR game by far, and I'll go over what makes V3 "tick."
I want to start with the elephant in the room when it comes to this games' improvements-- the graphics. It is insane how much better V3 looks on a moment to moment basis: when I first started I literally said, quote: "This game in general has a way higher production quality than the other two ones," and that sentiment is felt. Every character is so much more expressive with the way the dialogue portraits work, and the constant use of visual effects for onomatopoeia helps the game truly come alive.
Speaking of "alive," the cast in DRV3 is the best in the series. It's not even close-- it blows the other games out of the water. A majority of the characters have depth in this game and they play off each other in a way never seen before in the series. While there still are some unfortunate stereotypes and flat characters (Tenko, Angie, Kiyo...), it is by far the least of any game in the series. It's greatly appreciated. The main characters in this game pop OFF, and all of them are incredibly thought provoking, likable, (or hateable, in an antagonist's case) and full of charm.
And as an aside, I want to mention the games' general plot without spoiling too much. DRV3 is an incredibly subversive game-- one could call it the Deconstruction of what Danganronpa is and what makes it work, in more ways than one. Unlike half the series up to this point, V3 kept me on my toes wondering what to expect next and what themes to draw out of it. In this way it feels a true follow up to DR(1) to me-- the series expects that you've played it before and will oftentimes make your question the ideas from the previous entries, which makes it an amazing sequel.
The gameplay is no slouch either: it's your usual Danganronpa fair, with some pretty good additions this time around. I'm not into the Perjury system in Nonstop Debates as much as most people, however. My issue with it lies in its utilizations: there really could have been more of it and in less obvious places. Otherwise, though, a lot of the new stuff is really good. Rebuttal Showdown (Truth Blade) is my favorite non-standard minigame in the series, and Debate Scrums and Mass Panic Debates (which aren't super different from nonstops) are awesome. Most of the other stuff is just okay and not really worth talking about, though, and Psyche Taxi is the second worst minigame in the series right after 2's """""""IMPROVED""""""" Hangman's Gambit. You win some, you lose some I guess.
Aside from those few stinkers, my biggest issue with the game is its pacing. While it is much better than anything 2 ever did pacing wise, there are multiple moments in DRV3 where I feel like the game is meandering for no reason, particularly in the trials. Pretty much every one in the game does it besides the first one, and while I don't hate them for it it sort of becomes a "death by a thousand cuts" situation. Not to mention that V3 has a few stinker trials of its own: particularly V3-3 which feels incredibly formulaic in a game that makes an effort to subvert the "Danganronpa Formula" and not play by the exact same rules you've seen 2, if not 3 times already.
Ultimately, though, I loved it. Danganronpa V3 is a stellar game, and for any fans of the original it is a must play recommendation from me. (Also, if you don't like the ending you got filtered. I don't make the rules.)