I never though I would finish this game, not that it was difficult but it was dragging at first for me. Coming from the awesome 999 and Zero Escape the change of phase and how the game progress is too Phoenix Wright for my taste not that it’s a bad game but It’s too weird at first try. But oh man! This game is awesome if you get the hang of it.
A bunch of students chosen to be the best of the best but little do they know that it’s not only their education is at stake but also their lives. Headed by a cheeky robot bear name Monokuma, you have to solve who is murdering each and every one of your classmates and if you guess wrongly all of you will die. You know the drill a typical “Battle Royale” theme game where the kids will battle to the death, but in this case murder each other and battle to the death with wits not weapons.
I’m not a queasy person so the gore and blood of this visual novel won’t put me off, so why am I skeptical on the first try? Mostly on the quick-time events, but I understand why it was implemented – it’s for the tension build up and a sense of urgency. In a way it makes sense, it’s like when people get interrogated, how well do they hold up or if they will break down easily. The variety of gameplay makes this Visual Novel somewhat different from other VNs out there. There is the “Hangman” type of game, the rhythm type game and the most tricky part is the interrogation part of the game where you analyze if the person in question is lying or have some inconsistencies on their testimonials, you have to use your “bullets” to counter the words or phrases that are inconsistent. The translators at NIS America did a great job in translating the dialogues in English. My most favorite part is a Manga inspired Graphic Novel game where you’re presented with comic book panels and you’ll have to figure out the correct sequence of what happened on the actual killing. Makes you feel like you’re actually solving a murder mystery Sherlock Holmes style. There is somewhat building a social link between characters like “Persona 4 Golden” but I’m not sure if it really effects any decision or outcome on the story or gameplay. I know what you’re thinking, wooing Asahina Aoi will not… never mind. trust me I tried.
The game has a distinctive art style. It’s still is manga inspired but presented in an eerie way. Characters are very different from each other but with one or two generic ones. The lovely animated cutscenes is as gory as you’d expect from a game that’s main theme is “murder”. It’s cute and at the same time messed-up. Speaking of messed-up, Monokuma is the most messed-up teddy bear you’ll ever see besides the animatronic bear from “A Night at Freddy’s”. He’ll be popping up here and there in the game so expect a lot of him and his bear puns, lots of it.
BACKGROUND MUSIC and SOUND
The BGM keeps you pumped up during the actual “trial games”. The down-time BGM is a “love it or hate it” affair but it actually gives a sense of temporary calmness and security. You’ll already know that a crime was unveiled when the tense BGM kicks in. I’m not a big fan of electronica but it really works on this VN type of game.
A side from trophies from (PSN),after completing the main story another mode is added to the game which I didn’t really put much attention to, but I guess completionists will get a kick out of collecting the all the items (e.g. badges, udon, flowers, magazine, beef jerky etc.)from the giftshop and playing the “School Mode”.
I highly recommend this visual novel to all fans of the genre. This installment has a lot to offer. Yes we’re familiar with the Battle Royale set-up, it has been done a million times but who in the right mind doesn’t like that anyway. If you like 999 and Zero Escape you will definitely love Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havok.