Spike Chunsoft, developers of 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors and Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward are back with Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc another adventure based, Visual Novel game that does not fail to please.
Playing as Makoto Negi, a high school student newly attending Hope’s Peak Academy, where only they accept “Ultimate” students based off their skill in a specific field. This amazing opportunity soon turns sour as you and fifteen other “ultimate” students are now locked in the school with no escape in a killing game. The headmaster Monokuma, . A talking murdering bear , soon appears shortly after, then lays down the rules of the school. The only means of escape is by “graduating” which in this case means to kill a student without getting found out. If the culprit is correctly found guilty of the crime, they will be punished with direct results of death in a gruesome yet creatively dark way. Although, if the student that did the murder does get away with it and an innocent student is accused, the other students accusing the wrong student are “punished” with the results of death.
The game play mechanics in Danganronpa are split up into a few different sections. The first one you encounter is “Daily Life” where you are able to roam around the school and check out what it has to offer. While checking out the school you are able to tap on objects in the room in which you may find Monokuma coins that you can spend in the in school shop at the capsule machines. What you can do with the items you obtain from the capsule machine is the other side of free time. You can choose and spend time with one of the other students that attend Hope’s Peak Academy and give them a gift to find out more about that certain character this helps with unlocking skills. In this sim aspect it is pretty engaging as I found that all the characters are pretty interesting to talk to even the ones you would find annoying as they all have their saving grace.
When a murder has been committed, you’ll enter the “Deadly Life” mode which has you investigating the surrounding crime scene and questioning the other students. The only downside to this is I found at times the game will hold your hand hand where you are unable to leave the room til you talked to everyone or looked at everything when I rather just explore and look around by myself although this doesn’t actually detract from the overall experience but it was just a slight gripe at the time. After investigating and questioning the characters the next part of the investigation begins where a trial is held to dig up as much evidence as possible to support your case for who you think is the killer, through a series of mini-games.
The trial segments will always start off by having you dissecting the conversation that is happening currently on screen any discrepancies or weak statement that appear to you are shot using “Truth Bullets” at the words. There is a cross heir on screen and you press Triangle to shoot the truth bullet at the statement you think that is weak. They do however add to this segment over time to make it a little bit more diverse so it isn’t as repetitive. You will present evidence from time to time and play a hangman style game where you destroy letters to guess a phrase. A pretty cool mini game segment is a rhythm game which surprised me! This also gets added upon to add a little more depth to it as the game progresses. I think this is one of my favourite parts about the trial scenes where you basically re-create the whole crime scene through comic panels. These mini games help the trail sections not to become as repetitive as the seem each time you go back for a trail. The punishments that take place after the trail may cause some to grimace at the scenes occurring on screen as they are always pretty brutal and gruesome although creative.
The way that “Daily Life” and “Deadly Life” work in tandem is very well presented especially if one of the characters you liked to hang out with turned out to be the murderer as that means you essentially killed them. It is weird how the game can be shocking yet still manage to make light at times of certain situations or dialogue speeches as Monokuma’s speeches are both psychopathic yet playful. Even the music at times is able to make light of you being locked up in a school or feel downplayed due to the craziness of it all however when a death occurs it never feels light and bares its weight at the end of chapter.