We’ve all had that feeling when looking at the latest title in a franchise — what am I missing by playing this one first? Well, wonder no longer because we’re here to tell you which order to play the Danganronpa games in.
There are three main titles and two spin-offs, as well as an anime adaptation of the first game and an anime set after the events of the second game. There are other spin-off games and some manga, but for the most part they’re Japanese-exclusive, so don’t worry about them.
The main games all follow the same format: a group of people are trapped somewhere by the evil bear Monokuma and forced to kill one another to escape! But unlike other killing games, in these ones, you’re not allowed to be caught doing it. There’s a class trial after every murder, and if the killer makes it without being found out they’re free to go! But everyone else dies.
Put simply, everything after the first game, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, contains spoilers for Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc. The game has been available in English since 2014, so it’s understandable that Spike Chunsoft won’t care about spoilers by this point. I managed to avoid most spoilers as well as every big reveal, and enjoyed the main three games very much because of that, so I strongly recommend not looking at wikis until you’re done. Strongly. In fact, don’t even check up voices on IMDB, just in case.
You need to play Trigger Happy Havoc before you move on to Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair to avoid multiple spoilers for the first game. Instead of playing the first game, however, you can watch the anime, which almost exactly adapts the game. When you finish the second game, it unlocks a ~900-page light novel that presents a “What If” scenario set during the first one that is well worth a read if you’ve enjoyed the series so far.
The spin-off Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls takes place before, during, and after Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, so definitely play it third to avoid spoilers. You could skip it too, but that’s entirely up to you as it’s not about solving mysteries during a killing game, but it’s referenced in one of the anime. As with Goodbye Despair, finishing the game unlocks a light novel that covers events that take place during the game.
While not entirely necessary, you might then want to check out the anime Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School, as it caps off some of the plotlines from the first two games and gives you extra insight into some of the characters. Again, entirely optional, but if you do give it a watch, I recommend watching them in the order of alternating one episode of the Future Arc, then one episode of the Despair Arc.
Finally, play Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, and don’t believe anyone who says that you can play it in a vacuum. I enjoyed this one as much as the other titles, but I know that I’d have been disappointed by the experience if I’d played it first, as there are potential spoilers for the first two games.
Of course, if you’ve picked up Danganronpa Decadence on the Switch, you’ll also have Danganronpa S: Ultimate Summer Camp to play. Whereas Ultra Despair Girls is a spin-off that takes place in continuity, Ultimate Summer Camp is completely unrelated story-wise. It does feature characters from the other games, though, so potential spoilers abound!
Put simply: play them in release order to avoid spoilers! Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls, Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, adding the anime in if you like. There are light novels and manga, most of which is Japan-only, but it all either directly adapts things, or fills in backstories, side stories, and alternate events. There are also gag manga which are hilarious once you’ve played the games.
I hope that helps, and I sincerely hope that you avoid spoilers.