BADGP Reviews: Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc

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Not many students love going to school, but what if you had to live there until you graduated? Stuck indoors, no connections to the outside world and the only friends you could see is part of the student body. If spending the rest of your life at school sounds rough then imagine the only way to graduate is to kill another student. If this type of school life intrigues you then check out the new PS Vita game Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc. This game will take you through the life of the students at Hope’s Peak Academy and show how they manage their murderous academic schedule.

The Story/Writing

Danganronpa’s story is told mainly through text heavy pages which may seem daunting. However, some great writing and witty humor makes this one of the best games to come out this year so far. The story starts out with 15 students joining one of the most prestigious schools called Hope’s Peak Academy. All of the students that come to this school have to be the best at what they do. Whether being the Ultimate swimmer or the Ultimate fan fiction writer, all of the students are chosen by the school to preserve hope for the future by fostering the best that humanity has to offer. With 15 students being the best in different walks of life makes for some hilarious discussions throughout the game. Each character is well thought out and as I continued playing the game, the characters showed other sides to them which made them more believable.

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Throughout the game, the player will deal with many cases of murder. In these cases, the player will need to decide who killed the person, and explain how it was done with the help of evidence and their classmates. Even though the player might have some idea who actually killed the victim before entering the “court room,” as the debate progresses the level of uncertainty always rises. The story is well paced and leaves time for players to choose to talk with classmates between murders cases. In this Free Time mode, the player has the ability to talk to other students and show off some of their personality. After talking to the classmates you can receive abilities that will help in later cases. The game’s story is very linear and not many choices can be made. During the trials, the group will have to decide who the murderer is so that they can pass the trial and continue to live. If the group chooses the incorrect murderer everyone dies and the killer is free to leave the school. With only these two choices as outcomes the game felt stuck on one true path to follow.  I am hoping in future entries in this series will make it possible to choose incorrectly and continue with the story.

Visual/Audio

Combining two dimensional characters and a three dimensional environment, Danganronpa has a very unique atmosphere. Even in the environment all the characters are viewed as cardboard cut outs. The characters and all of the school’s rooms are well created and never feel out of place in this crazy academy. One of the best areas in this game is the music that was used. All of the music sounded great and blended well with the atmosphere that the game creates. From the beginning to the end of the credits, all of the music that is played throughout Danganronpa became quite noticeable and never became dull or repetitive. The voice acting in this game is fantastic and all of the actors bring something unique to the table. The only issue that I had with the voice acting was there was not enough throughout the game. The brunt of the voice acting stayed in the trials but other than that it was mainly a few words spoken for each text box. After playing Virtues Last Reward I was expecting there to be voice acting for every dialogue but I was let down.

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Gameplay

The main focus of Danganronpa is the murder cases. These cases have two main events which is the investigating and the trial itself. During the investigation sequence you will need to gather as much evidence you can find throughout the school that would help with murder.  This part of the game felt really relaxed and really needed some obstacles to make it more challenging. The game holds the player’s hand throughout these events and reminds you if there is still something important to discover. Most of the time I found myself wanting to leave the room and the game would not allow me until I found all of the evidence. After finding all of the evidence the trial event will begin.

The class trials have all of the students in a circle. During this time everyone will be debating whether which one of them killed the victim. All the evidence that you will find will become bullets to use against statements by classmates. How this works is the game will show highlighted statements that might be right or wrong and you have to show that it is false by shooting a piece of evidence at it. If the statement is proven false, then the debate will continue, but if the statement was in fact true you will lose some of your health. The trials also have a few mini games that you will need to complete to prove someone is guilty. Some of the games include hangman and a rhythm game. These mini games do not add much to the experience but it gives you a break from shooting down statements. The last action that will be performed in most cases is the summary puzzle. The game will have an incomplete comic book that you will need to fill. If at any point your health bar drops to zero you will lose the trial, but have no fear since the game will restart you right up to the point of death with a full health bar.  The trials are quite long and the only issue I had with these trials is that there is no save point in the middle of the trials.

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Verdict

Danganronpa is a fun game to play when you have the time. The length of the trials and the attention to every sentence spoken makes it hard to play around friends and others. I would recommend this game to anyone that owns a PS Vita or who enjoys a good murder mystery story. The story is great and will keep you intrigued for hours. The next installment into this series comes out soon and I am really excited to see if they will add any new twists to the gameplay.

 

Score: 8 out of 10

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