Makoto Naegi is your run of the mill Japanese student, average at everything and unsure how his life will unfold, until he wins entry to the most prestigious of schools, Hope’s Peak Academy. Only the ultimate students go here, and when they graduate the world is their oyster. Makoto joins the Academy as the ‘Ultimate Lucky Student’ but it quickly becomes clear that he maybe isn’t so lucky after all…
After arriving at the school for his induction he loses consciousness and wakes up locked inside the school, where he meets fourteen other newly picked Ultimate students, they range from the Ultimate Pop Sensation, Ultimate Baseball Star to Ultimate Biker Gang Member. After meeting each of the students you finally meet the headmaster, but it isn’t what you are expecting. Monokuma is one of the more mental characters I have come across, he is a violent, crazy, remote controlled bear and he is quick to inform the new students that the only way they will graduate from the Academy is to kill another student and get away with it.
To make things more interesting when a murder occurs it’s up to the other students to determine who the culprit is, they’ll have to gather clues and analyse the evidence before choosing who the killer is, there is a catch though. If the students identify the killer that student will be killed, if they choose the wrong person however it’s the students that suffer and the killer will go free.
Each of the games chapters are split between two modes. Daily Life allows you to explore the school, as well as giving you the chance to build relationships with the other students. This is a really important aspect of the game because you discover more about each of the students you unlock skills to use in Class Trials which I’ll talk about later. It’s not long before the first murder occurs which then starts the second section, Deadly Life. It’s here where you become detective, exploring the scene of the crime and anywhere else you have access to try and determine which student has committed the crime. It’s probably worth having a pad and pen with you when searching the school, as there can be a fair few things to piece together. Once you have gathered the evidence it’s time to move on to the class trial. Before the trial begins you can assign some of the skills you may have unlocked while building relationships with the different students, these are designed to make things easier for you in the trial.
If you have played games such as Phoenix Wright or Ace Attorney you’ll find this quite familiar. The students discuss what has gone on and it’s up to you to dispute inaccuracies or false information in the classes statements. Whenever a sentence or word in a statement appears in orange you can use ‘Truth Bullets’ to show evidence as to why they are wrong. It’s generally not too hard to pick out the right segments as long you have been logically following the story but there is room to make small mistakes here and there.
The class trial has some different mini-games to play during gameplay, some are better than others. One game wants you to try to work out what they key word is by tapping letters that appear on the screen while another , Bullet Time Battle is a rhythm game that needs you to shoot down someone’s argument to the beat. I struggled with this at first but once you get used to the mechanics it’s not too bad, as you start perform better the tempo ramps up or the opposite if you are struggling. The final mini-game for the closing argument is probably my favourite; you need to piece together parts of a comic strip to reveal the full story behind the murder. It’s a bit hit and miss as the tiles you have can be vague but it’s fairly simple to work out in the end. You have a certain amount of influence over the class but if you make mistakes you’ll lose lives and once it has all gone you become the accused and the whole class will suffer.
The art style is wonderful, the character designs are brilliant and the whole game has had a complete touch-up from the PSP version from 2010 and looks brilliant for it, I love the different characters. There is even a Matthew Moore lookalike in there as well! (Leon). The audio throughout the game is excellent too, from the voice acting to the brilliant soundtrack; it draws you into the game, especially during the class trials. You can make more use of the Vita’s touchscreen to make selections during the game, which is really helpful because using the analog sticks can be hit and miss at times. The map can cause confusion sometimes too, suggesting characters are stood in certain places when they are not, but it’s something you get used to as time goes on.
You’ll get through the 6 chapters in around 25 hours and once you have done that you’ll unlock a new mode called School Life, which gives you freedom to build up relationships even more and earn some more trophies.
I wasn’t sure about this game at first, but the more I stuck with it the more I enjoyed it. It’s a perfect pick up and play game that for the most part you can dip in and out of but are also able to spend a long session playing through the Deadly Life sections. If you are Vita player looking for something different to play then this will be right up your street.
MLG Rating: 8/10 Format: PlayStation Vita Release Date: 11th February 2014
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of five weeks on a PlayStation Vita. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.