When a Danganronpa game is done, it is never really done. There is always some sort of supplemental content to get you to come back. The tried and true bonus is always an opportunity to catch up with characters you couldn’t befriend during the main game. Which is awesome! Having that extra opportunity to see missed content is wonderful. But Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony goes above and beyond. It also provides two additional modes that tap into genres we don’t see in the main game.
Editor’s note: spoilers regarding the post-game mode will appear below.
The first post-game mode that unlocks is Ultimate Test Development Plan. This is a board game that lasts three “school years.” In it you use specific characters and Death Cards to improve a person to make them a more suitable player both here and in the other post-game mode, Despair Dungeon: Monokuma’s Test. You actually have to play this to completion once before the turn-based RPG unlocks, which makes sense. After all, the RPG is using the Death Cards leveled up by playing this game. (And more Death Cards are earned by playing the board game, meaning everything is tied together.)
Ultimate Test Development Plan begins with you choosing a character from Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, or Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony. You then go around a course building that character up and interacting with other students. You can make small or big moves by rolling the dice, use a card, or use skills. By spending time with other students, you can even collect additional board game cards, which is quite helpful. For example, if I am playing as Kaede and run into Chihiro, she will give me an Encounter card. The Encounter card, when played, will make Kaede move until she encounters a space with another student. When I meet Nagito, he gives me a Hope card that can be used to keep Kaede’s stats from being reduced when she lands on a Despair space on the board.
The board is filled with squares that correspond to different character build stats, which makes them more formidable for Despair Dungeon: Monokuma’s Test. Each year, you may have the option of determining your Training Course, which influences which kinds of squares appear to improve stats. You could have a Normal Course, Talent Course, or Friendship Course. (Normal Course is the best to go with, to start.) However, there is also a Despair Course. If you can’t reach the goal square by the end of an in-game year, then next year gives you a despair version of the board with more Monokuma Despair squares that lower stats. I didn’t have too much trouble completing the Normal Course on my first playthrough, but you really do want to be careful to keep making good progress with characters.
So when playing Despair Dungeon: Monokuma’s Test, you get to bring four characters you have leveled up in Ultimate Test Development Plan to fight enemies and attempt to advance deeper into the dungeon. These are turn-based, pixelated battles that don’t give you any experience, but can give you gold to spend on new cards and crafting equipment or cards and materials to create new weapons, armor, and talismans. There are no classes. Instead, you have characters that are sporty, like Aoi, Peko and Ryoma, balanced variety characters like Makoto, Nagito, and Kaede, and intelligent characters like Junko, Chiaki, and Shuichi. Your goal is to conquer the bosses lurking every ten floors in. So Chiaki would be something like a mage, while Aoi would be a warrior.
I did like how the two segments worked together, but found The Ultimate Talent Development was the more entertaining of the two. Getting to see all of these characters interact with one another is a lot of fun. They play well off of each other. The RPG is entertaining and all. (Especially since it takes a cue from Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls and uses a bird-shaped kiddie toilet as a save point.) I just felt it got to be a little tiring to have to keep going back to the board game to improve my party members, rather than get a team of characters I liked, arranged in a suitable manner, but then have to keep going back to rounds of the board game so I could keep proceeding through the dungeon after hitting insurmountable walls.
With past Danganronpa games, I tended to stop playing after I maxed out the relationships with the characters I liked best in the post-game mode that had us experiencing the visual novel elements without any killing game. When it comes to Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, I feel like the game is trying to keep me coming back with The Ultimate Talent Development Plan and Despair Dungeon: Monokuma’s Test. These are far more intensive modes that encourage you to keep coming back to improve cards and characters so you can complete a dungeon. It’s especially appealing, what with characters from every entry in the series making appearances. It’s quite a lovely bonus and reward for surviving another term with Monokuma.
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony is available for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and PC.