Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is unstoppable from the start. It covers you in a warm comforting blanket, only for it to be whipped away leaving you with a story of evil, intrigue, despair and a 2 foot high toy bear that could easily take your head off. It’s a deranged cocktail of the bizarre, macabre and paranoia that has to be experienced to believed. A murder mystery like never before, Spike Chunsoft and publishers NIS America’s latest show stopper certainly is all that.
This is a story that everyone can relate to, starting your first day at school. Looking down the register at this school however, it reads like a who’s who of the world’s young, gifted, famous and talented. Each student has the tag ‘Ultimate’ and excels in their chosen field; from Ultimate Writing Prodigy, Ultimate Martial Artist to Ultimate Pop Sensation, it’s a feast of talent. For this is no ordinary school, and this is where this extraordinary story begins.
You play as Makoto Naegi, an endearing simple boy whose fortunate way into this school was by a winning lottery ticket. Undeterred by his lack of fame or talent, Makoto heads off to Hope’s Peak Academy. It’s here where only a few minutes into the game, Trigger Happy Havoc becomes something unbelievable. The turn of fate that awaits you and your classmates is unexpected, tense and chilling. Imagine the Kids of Fame mixed with outcasts from Saw. Sort of colour, glitz and guts. Not forgetting the headmaster of course, who looks like Paddington Bear’s evil Step Dad mixed with the sinister intent of Chucky. You are about to enter a world that you won’t want to leave.
Fifteen pupils become imprisoned in the confines of the Academy forever. The only way of escaping this desperate position is to commit murder. That’s right – killing a fellow class mate without being discovered is your only way to freedom. The instigator of such evil is Monokuma, a bear like creature from the damned. This control freak pops up throughout, and is watching your every move via CCTV. Menacing and down right evil, Monokuma plays his part well. Maybe too well…
The story rolls at a good pace with each pupil having a different background and story to tell. Taking time out to learn more about your new friends helps you understand more about how life in Hope’s Peak Academy may turn out. A simple point and hit selects who to talk to, and interacting with the environment is just as easy as glowing pointers give you visual hints. Once the first murder takes place the atmosphere certainly changes and draws you further into this addictive story. Throughout the chapters you are drip fed information that help you decide your guilty verdict. This then leads you to the end of level classroom trials. These so called ‘courtroom’ battles are so off the wall and yet so inventive. There’s no silly wigs or swearing on the bible. It literally is shooting down jury’s words, tapping to a quickening beat and filling in the gaps hangman style. Reaching a verdict could not have been made more fun. During this section of the game it can get rather confusing which button to hit and which trigger hits which word. Don’t worry – it’s only someone’s life at stake here, but somehow you get there in the end. The whole chapter is then summarised in a cartoon comic book style which pieces together the whole crime. It’s total genius.
Trigger Happy Havoc has the most utterly brilliant piece of music flowing through the game. The subtle changes when trouble is ahead or wrong decisions are made adds extra panic and drama to the situation. It really is a game that you don’t want to read too much about. It may not be for everyone but trust me, you’re going to have a rollercoaster ride playing this one out.
Brilliantly clever, beautiful to look at and with the added court room chaos, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is guilty of being one of the finest PS Vita games on the handheld.
Lizard rating: 9/10