Danganronpa is a series about subverting expectations. It blows your mind just like Phoenix Wright and the Zero Escape series by never letting you know quite as much as you think you do. If you’re into mystery novels filled with dark humor and serious storytelling, it’s hard to find a better balance than in Danganronpa.
This spot could be taken almost as easily by the first Danganronpa game, but for the sake of not having both taking up a spot on this list, I’m highlighting my favorite. The second game has better characters, and a much larger scope of environments and story, but doesn’t make the first game any worse by existing. The first game is still excellent, and the second game smartly steps away from the “kids locked in a building” theme, as to not step on D1‘s toes. Unlike the second Zero Escape game, Danganronpa’s sequel feels (literally, since you’re on a tropical island) like a breath of fresh air.
Both games start with you meeting an interesting cast of high school kids, each with unique personalities. Professional athletes, pop stars, and novelists all come together, build friendships, and then brutally, horrifically murder each other for a chance at freedom. Then they hold a trial, in which the survivors suss out their friend’s executioner, and is put to his or her (ironically themed) death. All because their game master and kidnapper, a masochistic robot teddy bear, told them to.
If you need more of a reason to play Danganronpa, I’m not sure what more you’re looking for.