The lights are on
Did you enjoy the tension of
games like Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors and Zero Escape: Virtue's Last
Reward? What about the quirky cast and courtroom trials of the Ace Attorney
series? DanganRonpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is a cross between the two, keeping
things tense with its kill-or-be-killed premise, alongside humorous
personalities that make the mission to catch murderers less grim.
The game first my caught my eye
at last year's Tokyo Game Show for its premise that was reminiscent of Battle
Royale and Hunger Games, but with
a twist. You are trapped in a school by a sadistic "headmaster" bear that won't
let you out unless you kill one of your peers. Once a murder takes place, an
investigation occurs followed by a courtroom trial to catch the murder. I've
finally had extended hands-on time, experiencing the harrowing dilemma for
myself. Here's what's most striking about it.
The Psychological Tension
DanganRonpa messes with your
head. How much is freedom worth? Could you justify killing to prevent your
darkest secrets from being revealed? As the game goes on, the sadistic
headmaster introduces new motivations to get the students to kill one another.
Hearing his new, bigger incentive instantly makes you wonder who will break
next and kill. You're also watching students' reactions to his news. Seeing the
slightest change in their demeanor is unnerving. Trials keep this momentum up
as the class stands in a circle interrogating one another, throwing accusations
around. You never know who has a hidden motive and is purposely trying to lure
you to the wrong conclusion. Let's just say, circumstances are always tense.
The Unusual Cast
You're trapped in a school with
exceptional students who are the best at their craft. Some are the standard
fare like the best baseball player and programmer. Others are anything but
ordinary. The best fan fiction writer jokes that he only likes 2D women. The
writing prodigy has serious self-esteem issues, and she'll turn any compliment
into an attack on her character. The lead of the biker gang has a short temper,
just waiting for a moment to throw a punch to solve an argument. Then you have
a hippie character who says he can see the future, but really he's not the
sharpest tool in the shed. There's even a character called "The Ultimate Moral
Compass;" he's neurotic and nitpicky about all the wrong things. These
characters are intriguing on their own, but watching them interact with one
another, especially under such dire circumstances, is thrilling.
Putting The Pieces Together
Expect the unexpected. DaganRonpa
has some exceptional plot twists, and often you'll go into trials not entirely
sure who committed the crime. But as the interrogation process begins and you
spot the contradictions, you start to make connections to whose story isn't
matching up. Sometimes, characters have selfish reasons for keeping information
mum, especially if it's embarrassing or damaging, but that doesn't necessarily
make them the killer. In fact, the trials are the biggest shockers, because you
usually don't discover the killer yourself until the very last moment. Part of
the fun is that moment when it all comes together - the contradictions, the
evidence, and the psychological breakdowns - that bring out the shocking
confessions. You're the one who uncovers it. The last part of the trial has you
putting the scene of the events together chronologically in a comic book that
reenacts the entire murder scene.
Learning More About The School And Students
After each trial a new part of
the school opens, and it has more than just basic classrooms. Going up the
steps to a new level is exciting as you never know exactly what awaits you.
Maybe you spot a hidden room, or perhaps a rec center or swimming pool is now
accessible. These rooms also unlock more options for murder and can reveal more
clues. For instance, an expansive library holds some history to the school, but
also has plenty of books to lend ideas for a murder. Every new place offers a
new opportunity and lesson to learn.
The students can also be chatted
up during free time to provide some insight into their lives. Remember your
peers had a life before they entered this chaos; some are surprisingly normal,
some will surprise you, and others won't discuss much until you gain their
trust. You can make them reveal more by giving gifts from the school store.
Part of the fun is showing you know them by giving the right gifts that match
their personalities and interests. They want to make sure you're paying
attention and actually getting to know them.
That Crazy Bear
You won't find an antagonist
better than Monokuma. He gets under your skin because he's always popping in at
the right moment to take away any shred of hope you may have gained. His
enjoyment comes from your misery; he has that sinister, happy laugh every time
he's ruining your day. While you're sitting on edge about murders, he's
drinking a nice glass of wine, sitting calmly without experiencing any
emotional turmoil. Monokuma has no remorse and will kill at the drop of a hat,
meaning it's near impossible to break or reason with him. Don't expect to
appeal to his emotions - they're nonexistent. That's what makes you strive to
best him. There has to be a way to finally beat him at his own game, right?
DanganRonpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
releases February 11 for the Vita. Look for our review in the coming weeks.
Email the author Kimberley Wallace, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.
Monokuma reminds me of Specter from Ape Escape in a weird way
I've played an English translation of this game all the way through, and I have to say it's one of my favorite games of all time. It's story is very well done with crazy plot twists, and the gameplay is fun and exciting. Anyone with a Vita should definitely get this game I highly recommend it.
If it's a combination of Ace Attorney and Zero Escape, then I'm in. Those were both awesome games and this sounds incredible.
I've played the Japanese version and seen the anime, so I can highly recommend this series, especially for anybody who's a fan of Battle Royale or 999/Zero Escape. Plot twists abound, and the characters are zany and unique. I've got my copy pre-ordered.
lol you actually think that the fan-fic writer was joking? Anyways the game looks fun and if it's anything like AA, it could be worth it, especially on the Vita.
So in other words, it's everything that makes Japanese media awesome. God I love the Japanese, only there could they think of making a series of films that are about a Squid or a Crab that wants to be human. Also Bobobo, Bludgeon to Death Angel, or any other number of absurd Animes and shows. They are easily the weirdest and most sincere island on this planet.
This game looks awesome.
The game looks pretty interesting, I hope to try it out at some point.
Thanks for this feature Kim! I can'y believe I let this game slip through my radar. It sounds pretty intense and right up my alley.
I have to play 999 and Ace Attorney first before I get this game even though the difference is big.
Anyways, cannot wait for February.
Dont make me buy a Vita...please...stop...