Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc review
SG Gaming Info takes a look at Spike Chunsoft’s PlayStation Vita murder mystery title, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc.
Starting Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc I wasn’t sure what I would find. I never played or read about the original PSP game or watched the 2013 anime, and because of this I feel I enjoyed the game more. The mystery and investigations wanted me to play more and more, I just wanted to learn more of the game’s constantly changing story and characters. Make no mistake the game will draw you in and make your brain work.
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is a murder mystery game that takes place in Hope’s Peak Academy, a school that is only open to the “ultimate” students, those who are the best at what they do. Be it the Ultimate Gambler, Ultimate swimming pro or Ultimate Bike Gang leader. But all is not as it seems because when Makoto Naegi, an ordinary high school student picked to attend the school in a lottery. When the 15 students enter the school they quickly learn that the school is in fact a prison.
Confused and terrified, a teddy bear called Monokuma tells the 15 students that they are trapped in the school for the rest of their lives, but there is a way to get out alive and that is to murder a fellow student and get away with it. While Makoto and the other 14 students originally refuse to take part in Monokuma’s twisted plans, distrust and some motivation from Monokuma cause the students to crack and the murders to begin. As you play the game you must solve each murder and find out who or what is behind this twisted game.
The mystery aspect of the story is really interesting, but as the game progress it likes to throw out new pieces of the story seemingly out of nowhere. Unfortunately, the games ending is a bit weak, while it is satisfying it does leave several questions unanswered.
The game’s chapters are essentially split into three parts: school life, investigation and class trial.
The school life portion expands the game’s story, giving the players some explanations as to what is going on, this is done by allowing you to explore the school and talk to people, but while this portion gives answers the answers given usually create new questions for the player to ask. Apart from answering or creating new questions the school life section also helps setup the eventual murder, the game does this by creating a reason/motivation for the students to kill each other for example in the first chapter Monokuma provides each student with a DVD, the DVDs contains a video of who/what they love and how they (the student) destroyed them in some way. Finally in the school life portion you have free time, this portion while seemingly innocuous as it allows to talk/to get to know your fellow students can prove potentially vital as talking and giving them presents from the MonoMono Machine increases your friendship and gives you new skills to use in the class trial. The school life portion makes the game seem like a typical visual novel with it requiring you to talk to people, but I don’t recommend turning off during this portion as a lot of explanations and subtle hints are made during this portion of the game.
The investigation portion is where things get serious as the uneasy calm of the school life is replace by the investigation of a murder. In this portion you need to find evidence that will show who the real murderer is. Investigating is pretty simple as it is all about paying attention to what you see and what your fellow students say. The investigation portion will leave you running around the school looking for even the smallest clue to help you and the other students live. While the investigating is fun it can be a bit tedious as the game only makes something a clue after a certain amount of explanation or after you find another clue. This can be frustrating when you discover what is clearly a clue, but can’t look into it because the game wants you to follow an unfortunately linear investigation path.
Lastly we have the class trial where each chapter reaches it bloody conclusion. In the class trial you must prove who the murderer is by going through a series of elements that are created to give or counter evidence in various ways. These elements are: nonstop debate, hangman’s gambit, bullet time battle and closing argument. The most difficult of these elements is the nonstop debate as it requires you spot a lie or inconsistency in a statement from a fellow student. To spot the issue you have to use a preselected “truth bullet”, a piece of evidence that you fire at the incorrect statement. While this might be easy at first, but as the game progresses you are given a greater number of truth bullets and in some cases the truth bullets you have might be all wrong and you have to take a statement during the debate and fire it at the inconsistency. For moe the nonstop debate was easily the most difficult portion of the class trial.
In hangman’s gambit you need to piece together a collection of letters to create a sentence that fits in with what is currently been argued in the trial. This is relatively easy if you have been paying attention to the trial and to what happened throughout the chapter. For example in chapter 1 the word in Hangman’s gambit is “hair”, the answer isn’t fully found during the trial, but during a discussion with a fellow student during the investigation portion of the chapter.
Bullet time battle is where you literally shoot down a person’s statement, this element usually occurs near the end when you are about to find the out who the murderer is. In this event you have to target and shoot down statements that fly towards you, while it sounds simple you can only target and shoot when the tempo marker and input marker lineup. Again like the nonstop debate this element gets progressively more difficult with the need to reload bullets and the ability for the other student to temporarily hide your tempo marker.
Lastly there is closing argument in this final element you piece together the murder by filling in the missing pieces of a comic book of the murder. There is nothing to difficult about this element.
Overall the class trial is the most difficult element of the game as it requires you to use your brain. The game doesn’t give you the answers on a silver platter it makes you work to find the correct answer, but don’t be too intimidated because if you mess up and run out of health you can try again from where you failed.
The 15 students are a great cast of characters; each character has their own unique trait that makes them stand out. This ranges from Kiyotaka Ishimaru’s complete focus on following school rules to Kyoko’s mysterious behaviour. If this was the only selling point for they would be simply good characters, but as the game progresses you get to see the characters waver and move away from their comfortable traits as the game pushes their mental ability to the limit. It is amazing in a weird sort of way to see the characters slowly being broken and slowly lose what little hope they cling too. Monokuma the main antagonist is a good character, he may not be as good as the 15 students, but how the he twists and turns the students’ minds is interesting to watch especially when the character shows no remorse for his actions.
While the majority of the game is great there are some parts of the game that are disappointing. The biggest disappointment is the English dub, in the dub the characters sound to fake and you rarely hear any emotion in their voice of course, this isn’t helped when in a lot of scenes they just say one line and the rest is just text. The worst offender for this is Celeste with “Do you understand?” this line became so annoying that I was really tempted not to talk to her for the rest of the game.
One final issue would be the limited replay value. The game does offer a type of new game+ called School mode, a what-if simulation type play mode, but from what I played it is something for the people who want to 100% the game.
Should you buy Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc? Yes
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is a visual novel, battle royal and a murder mystery all rolled into one. The characters and the mystery left me wanting to play more and more. While the ending could have been better I enjoyed the game from start to finish.
+ Great cast of characters
+ Interesting and mysterious story
+ The game makes you use your brain
+/- Ending did leave a number of unanswered questions
– English dub feels sub par
– little replay value
Developer Publisher Genre Rating Platform Release Date
For more information on the game, visit the Official Danganronpa website.
Author: Aaron Meehan
Hi, I’m the creator of SG Gaming Info. When I’m not working on my writing or creating content for this site’s YouTube channel, I like to relax and enjoy character driven story games.