What I'm Playing - No. 99
Welcome back to another weekly wrap-up of the games I’ve been playing over the past week!
Beware final boss spoilers for Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin. If you don’t want that spoiled, please skip that section!
The Danganronpa V3 section is spoiler-free, so you can read that part without fear!
Games contained within this post:
Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin (PS4)
I finished Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin this week! It was such a fun and charming adventure right up to the very end.
As is JRPG tradition, the final boss battle in Sakuna is against an evil god. A new mechanic is introduced for this fight, where you can create a shield that blocks all incoming damage, and charges as it does so. Once it’s fully charged, you can unleash a powerful attack, but keeping the shield up drains SP. This seems easy enough, but I struggled a little bit. Luckily, Sakuna has a very forgiving checkpoint system, and if you lose all your HP you just restart at the beginning of the floor, which in this case is right before the boss fight, and you can skip the cutscene leading up to it on repeat attempts. Once I got a little more used to the new shield mechanic, it was a pretty easy boss fight, but still quite satisfying.
With the evil god defeated, Sakuna returns to her farm on the Isle of Demons, having come to love both the island and her human companions who lived and worked beside her. She settles into a peaceful life growing rice, and her bountiful harvests impact the Lowly Realm as well, bringing the humans there peace and prosper for centuries to come.
This ending is so heart-warming, I couldn’t help but smile. I’m really glad I picked this game up! It’s both a fun farming sim, and fun action RPG, and the two sides of the experience work really well together.
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony (PC)
I started playing this final game in the Danganronpa series this week. I picked it up on a Steam sale recently. I hadn’t planned on playing it yet, but I was thinking back on how much I enjoyed Danganronpa 1 and 2, one thing lead to another, and now here I am, 19 hours and several chapters into V3 and loving it.
The premise is no surprise: a brand new cast of 16 characters find themselves trapped in another high school killing game. Roll the character intros!
New characters aren’t limited to the high school students forced into the killing game though. There are also the Monokubs, teddy bear-like robots similar to Monokuma, but smaller. Like Monokuma (and really a lot of Danganronpa characters), they definitely have excessive personalities. They’ll pop up as you explore and at other times to relay information about the killing game and the rules. They maintain control over the students via the use of their giant bipedal weapons, the Exisals.
Another one of the new hooks this time is that you play as two different characters, with control automatically switching between them. These are Kaede Akamatsu and Shuichi Saihara. That was definitely something I wasn’t expecting, so piqued my interest pretty very early on! Aside from that, there are a number of allusions to events from previous Danganronpa games intertwined into the scenarios of V3. However, they’re not recycling story lines here. Rather, it feels these were included as deliberate nods for longtime fans, as well as tools used to subvert expectations, and subverted they have been! It really feels like a lot of love has been poured into this game, and it’s awesome to see.
There are also new mini-games during the class trials. The trials themselves are just as good as those found in the previous games, but I can’t go into specifics because of spoilers. My favorite of thew mini-games is probably Psyche Taxi. It’s similar to a mini-game from Danganronpa 2 where you snowboarded around, but this time you drive a car, picking up letter cubes to form a question and then choosing the right answer to it. It’s pretty fun, but the visuals are probably the highlight, featuring a lot of neon city skylines. Psyche Taxi is far from the only new class trial event though. Even outside the mini-games, Nonstop Debates have new features now. With all these features, class trials are probably the best they’ve been in the entire series.
The last thing I want to mention is that first-person exploration has returned. In Danganronpa 2, you explored the “world map” by moving left or right in 2D space, whereas in Danganronpa 1 and V3 you walk around the 3D school in first-person. Moving around in Danganronpa 2 was fine, but I definitely feel more immersed in these games by the first-person camera, so I’m glad to see that return!
The hardest part about writing about the Danganronpa games is that I’m so impressed by the writing within them, but I can’t really talk about it because I don’t want to spoil anything. Danganronpa V3 is definitely living up to the expectations I had for it, if not surpassing them entirely. It’s really good. Anyway, I’ll leave you here with a few of the movie references littered through the Monokuma and Monokid monologues!