#62 Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc

danganronpa 2422657-2013-11-04-174216

  • Original release year: 2010
  • Consoles: PSP (later: PS Vita)

Every now and again, I play a game that really captivates me, that engrosses me in its world, connects me with  the characters and I literally cannot put down until it’s finished. The first Danganronpa game, Trigger Happy Havoc, was one of those games.

Danganronpa is a wacky, zany, over the top, interactive, Japanese Visual Novel game, with a murder mystery twist. What differentiates Danganronpa from other Visual Novels, is the different gameplay mechanics and level of interaction offered to the player. Gameplay is essentially split into 4 distinctive parts. Part 1 is the ‘Visual Novel’ part, where you will be reading pages of text and watching cutscenes. This part is what moves the story forward. Part 2 is ‘free time’. This is when you can explore the environment and find other characters to hang out with. This adds to the character development and allows you to get closer to characters, in much the same way as in the Persona games. Part 3 is the ‘murder mystery investigation’, initiated when a dead body is found. You must look for clues and investigate the murder. The final part, is the class trial. This is when you need to put the facts together, take part in mini games and together, as a group of characters, determine who the killer is. It’s definitely one of the most exciting parts, playing a bit like a Phoenix Wright game.

The class trials are a bunch of fun, full of zany mini games.
The class trials are a bunch of fun, full of zany mini games.

Of course, if you haven’t played the game and you know nothing about it, this is all probably sounding a little bit random without understanding the premise. The plot can basically be summarised as follows:  A group of high school students are locked in a high school together and forced by a mechanical evil teddy bear into playing a horrific and deadly game. They are told that in order to be released from the school, the only way to do so, is if they can murder another fellow student and successfully get away with it. From that simple starting point, the story develops throughout the game as you delve deeper into the school and discover more and more about the other students, the school and the mastermind behind this deadly contest.

Trigger Happy Havoc is a strange mix of Battle Royale meets Persona 4, meets Phoenix Wright, meets Cluedo. It’s a fantastically well written game, with a diverse cast of characters. The dialogue, story and character interactions are brilliant, with some exceptional writing. Each murder is unique, interesting and plays out really well, with lots of different twists and turns throughout, as you try to work out who the killer is each time. Overall, Trigger Happy Havoc is one of the best experiences I have had on the Vita and is a must have for all Vita owners.

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