NIS America Inc.’s DanganRonpa: Trigger Happy Havoc for Sony Corp.’s Playstation Vita is a dark and clever mystery trial game that pits users in intense chapters of murder and intrigue.
In the title, Makoto Naegi, an average teenager, is accepted into the prestigious Hope’s Peak Academy. There he meets 14 top rank ‘ultimate’ students who discover that the school’s Headmaster is psychotic stuffed bear named Monokuma. Monokuma tells the students that the only way to graduate from Hope’s Peak Academy is to kill another student without getting caught. The dilemma prompts a series of murders that users must solve with evidence and a final trial.
Each chapter is divided into Daily Life, Murder, Investigation, The Trial, and The Punishment. In Daily Life, users can socialize with other students to form bonds through conversation and gifting presents. Following a murder, an investigation will prompt users to place a cursor on key objects in order to find more information.
The Trial requires users to shoot down conflicting testimony with Truth Bullets, evidence, or testimony acquired during the investigation. Users load Truth Bullets and press the touch screen to fire at floating sentences to combat key words in testimony. The section also includes a Bullet Time Battle in which users utilize the touch screen to tap to the beat to refute arguments from the prime suspect, and a comic book with voided panels that users must complete to officially solve the crime. The action elements aren’t necessary but provide nice opposition to a standard menu with text.
Each chapter is thoroughly engaging with a lot of exposition provided by each student. Users roam through Peak’s Academy in first person and can turn the camera in a limited scale to uncover additional points of interest. Each character is drawn in 2D but lengthy conversation and voice clips help to add strong depth to each suspect.
The graphics engine is decent with a 2.5D aspect and well-drawn characters. The sound engine is solid with a range of up-tempo and dreary tracks that accompany solid voice work. The title includes an option for English and original Japanese voice tracks.
DanganRonpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is a sharp and twisted mystery trial game that mixes clever crimes with a primal premise. With a range of colorful suspects, the title maintains an next-generation intensity with old-fashioned storytelling.