Not even being the ultimate at something can save you from the dastardly Monokuma.
The Danganronpa series has been around since 2010 and has since had quite a few sequels and spin-offs. Back in March, the three mainline games in the series – Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair and Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony – were released in a trilogy. Available on PlayStation 4, if you haven’t played any of the titles before, it makes for a great way to jump into the series.
The games all follow the same vein: a group of students are brought together and forced to play a sick game where they are convinced to kill each other. What ensues is a twisting story of mystery, intrigue and capital M for murder. We’ve put together a nice list of reasons why you should pick up the Danganronpa Trilogy for yourself.
Inevitably during the game you’re going to find a b-b-b-body of one of your fallen classmates. When this happens you must go through a trial to solve who committed the murder. If you solve it, the person who did the killing is punished. And if you don’t, well then the rest of you all die and the killer is set free. Uh-oh.
The entire process of solving each murder in the Danganronpa Trilogy is extremely well done. First, you examine the crime scene, gathering up all the clues so that you have evidence you can use to back up claims in the trials. When a trial begins, everyone will begin pointing out evidence and trying to figure out who struck down your fellow comrade. You’ll spend the majority of the trial either agreeing with or shooting down your classmates’ claims. There are multiple sections of the trial, and it’s not until the very end when you’re able to put together exactly what happened in a comic book-like fashion, piecing the crime together panel by panel until the killer is discovered. If you’re a fan of Phoenix Wright, it’s pretty similar and will have you on the edge of your seat the entire time.
Being mostly a visual novel, Danganronpa has to rely a lot on its writing and its characters to keep the player interested. In my opinion, the game does this flawlessly. Each game has a variety of different types of characters – some funny, some serious, weird and wacky – that all come together to make really compelling stories. Discovering the characters’ unique personalities and their backstories is one of the most fun parts of the game.
Not to mention the amount of twists that just keep on coming the longer you play. This is a spoiler-free zone my friend, but I’m telling you that that person you think you’re best friends with? Watch your back, they could be the next killer.
Every good story needs a good villain, and Monokuma is one of the baddest of the bad. A cute and cuddly teddy bear on one side, a sinister dark creature on the other – Monokuma is the self-proclaimed headmaster of Hope’s Peak Academy (where you and your classmates are students). You know not to trust him and yet, at times, he manages to lull you into a false sense of security. Monokuma gets away with tonnes of mischief during the game and you can’t help but want to squish his cheeks. Although he’s a bit of perv.
The character himself is brilliantly voiced and written in a way that makes you love to hate him. How could you truly hate someone who has flowers constantly coming out of his armpits?
In between the regular story and the trials, players are given the opportunity to have “free time.” This is when you can explore the area and speak with the other characters, learn their stories or maybe inadvertently flirt a little bit. It’s also the time when you can get gifts out of the MonoMono Machine (in-game coin machines) and give them to other characters to try and make nice with them.
What’s the point of making nice with the other characters? Doing so lets you learn more about them and gives your character certain special abilities to use during the trails. But also, it’s fun to figure out which presents the others like. Because they sure will tell you if they hate them. Free time is just a nice, relaxing break from the whole “who’s trying to kill me?” rest of the game.
Though they don’t make up much of the Danganronpa Trilogy, the punishments are some of the most fun parts of the games. If you’re a weirdo like me, that is. The punishments are short animations that occur after someone has been accused of murder and confirmed as the killer. Each of the punishments are tailored specifically for the person involved so they’re all unique and equally brutal.
Monokuma himself shows up to facilitate all of the punishments so you get a glimpse at the squishy little creep in action. Most of the time, you’ll be happy to see your classmate go. They deserve it for killing someone else, right? But sometimes, you might end up feeling pretty bad for them.
Each Danganronpa game is different in its own way, but they all have contrasting animation styles that makes them feel fresh and new every time. At times you’ll have fully animated anime-esque scenes, and other times you’ll be travelling around in a first person perspective. Other times, like during the punishment sequences, you’ll be watching something that comes off as cartoony or you’ll be piecing together a real life comic.
Despite its dark content, Danganronpa is colourful and bright, allowing players to appreciate every aspect of the animation. You’ve never seen visual novels quite like these.