Is your Hue Clear?
Psycho-Pass Mandatory happiness is a Visual Novel set in the world of relatively new anime Psycho-Pass. Published by NISA America, this adaptation is set around the first few episodes of the first season; Mandatory happiness has you choose between two new characters, amnesiac inspector Kugatachi Nadeshiko and grizzled enforcer Tsurugi Takuma, giving you two very different approaches to the Psycho-pass world. It is your task to solve the crimes plaguing your city and deliver the judgements that you are given the authority to by the Sibyl System. It is a harrowing task though, will Mandatory Happiness have a clear hue or will it need to be put down with the Dominator?
The story of Psycho-Pass is set in dystopic future where you are judged by your mental state on whether you will commit a crime. This is done via the Sibyl System which is able to determine your state of mind via several computations resulting in a crime coefficient that places you on a spectrum, giving you a Hue of sorts. A clear Hue means you are a respectable citizen and above reproach, acts of violence or psychological problems causes the hue to cloud and change colour, meaning that a seemingly normal person, if exposed to a violent or troubling scene could become a violent person and present a danger to society. It is down to the CID, Criminal Investigative Division, to investigate and seek out justice. The officers are usually in groups of two, the Inspector, who generally has a clear hue and is able to view disturbing scenes without their hue being affected, and the enforcer, someone who has a super high crime coefficient and would otherwise be exterminated. The pair have a gun each called a Dominator which can read a person’s hue when it is directed at them and can dispense the correct punishment if needed. This partnership allows them to have an entire spectrum of capabilities, half using a criminal to catch a criminal, half having two distinct points of views to catch anyone who might be between the two extremes. Mandatory Happiness not only has a story fit for the anime it is based on, it also has all the music, sounds and voice actors from the original anime giving you an unparalleled feel that you are truly fulfilling the role of the Inspector/Enforcer depending on who you choose. It is not a happy story at all, in line with the events of the anime, you have to deal with harrowing decisions and gut wrenching plot twists. Each case you take upon is just another testament to how brutal and unforgiving this world ruled by Sibyl can be and sometimes you are powerless to makes a change because in this world, hue means everything. Even if you understand that a person is just shocked, if your Dominator said to eliminate, you must do so… must you?
The gameplay is 100% Visual Novel, you select the options that you would prefer to take and the game will take you on its journey down each path to fruition. This is great if you know what you are expecting and as immersive and faithful to the source material as the game is, you are in for a treat. The characters act and sound just as you’d expect them to in the anime, making you a part of the story very easily, sadly there isn’t extensive room to move around. You have about 2-3 choices and occasionally, the choices don’t make a clear cut difference. Sometimes this is due to good writing, the world seemingly taking the choice from you; sometimes it is poor scenes where the different options are simply the same option reworded. For the most part in Mandatory Happiness it is the former. Every choice you make only drags you into the bleak and depressing world of the game, I only wish the game could record your Hue before you start the game and after to see what effect the story has on you. There are no action scenes, no quick time events, no other set of gameplay, it is simply read, make your dialogue and action choices then enjoy where you are taken.
The game has a wonderful atmosphere and the game is immersive, with the sights and sounds being reminiscent of the source material. If you are looking for interactions like in an action game or rpg, sadly these just aren’t available. The Visual novel style is exactly what it sounds like. You a participating in a “choose your own ending” book, once you make that choice the games takes your for the ride. Mandatory happiness does what it wants to well, I only wish the game had been longer as it is pretty pricey for the visual Novel experience, while there is replay value to see what each path takes you down, most of the endings are expected to be the same. Going down both the Enforcer and Inspector routes does give you almost a second playthrough of the game with new experiences. If you are looking for a walk in the world of Psycho Pass, there is no better way to do it than Mandatory Happiness aside from re-watching the anime. If you are looking for something more hands on, sadly, that will have to wait for another day.