Hey guys! So it’s been awhile since I last wrote up a game review but hopefully, this isn’t too cringeworthy. You see, about two years ago I was getting really hyped about VNs and I very obviously hinted to my family that I wanted a PS Vita and a VN for my birthday. I ended up getting just that and the game I received was Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
I played the game for like an hour, maybe even less, and bam! I lost interest like that. I just couldn’t really get into it. Fast forward to 2018, when I read Irina’s post on the game and I thought I should get to playing something again. And since I’m a little tight on cash, I figured I’d play what I already own
Also, if anyone is interested, I did write up a first impression on the first two chapters of the game (way) before writing this review post. If you read that then you know I still wasn’t 100% convinced on the game but then I finished it and bought Goodbye Despair. So what happened?
Played on: PS Vita • Rating: 4.5 out of 5 • Play Time: ~12 hours
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is a single player adventure visual novel developed by Spike Chunsoft. The game spans 6 Chapters/Episodes and it takes about 2 hours to complete each one (or at least that’s how long it took me, don’t judge, lol!). It’s a mix of interacting with characters and investigation.
As a warning, this game is rated M for Mature because there’s blood, violence, strong language, and suggestive themes. Also, you know how games and some DVDs mention that they may cause seizures? This game mentions it in the back and since I actually used to have seizures as a kid, I wanted to mention that during the actual interactive gameplay, I did feel dizzy because there’s a lot of motion and image stuttering. If this bothers you, I probably would stay away
In Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc we play as Makoto Naegi, a perfectly normal guy who has been randomly selected to attend Hope’s Peak Academy, which is a super famous school that only accepts Exceptional (Ultimate) students. Students who are la crème de la crème in their field and Makoto just happens to be the Ultimate Lucky Student, not because he’s had good luck his whole life but because he was selected as a student via a lottery. He and a handful of other students end up deciding to attend Hope’s Peak Academy because it’s said that if you graduate, you are set for life
All of this and a bit more is explained as soon as you start the game by Makoto. While some student information is made public through forums, Makoto doesn’t actually know who else is going to be attending.
However, as soon as we enter the school something strange happens. The inside of the building starts to warp and then Makoto ends up waking up in a strange empty classroom where there is a security camera and where the windows are boarded up. Makoto does end up finding it strange but doesn’t really question what’s happening. Instead, he heads out for the school orientation, which is where he meets fourteen of his classmates. And with Ultimates like Byakuya Togami: The Ultimate Affluent Progeny, Chihiro Fujisaki: The Ultimate Programmer, and Sayaka Maizono: The Ultimate Pop Sensation (just to name a few), Makoto feels out of his element
But I suppose this is where the story truly begins as we learn that attending Hope’s Peak Academy actually means engaging in a kill or be killed game orchestrated by Monokuma, a stuffed bear
Monokuma ends up explaining the rules of the game. As students, we have two options at Hope’s Peak Academy. We can choose to live peacefully at the school FOREVER or we can graduate, however, graduating means killing a classmate without being discovered. And if we are successful in our murder, not only do we graduate, but the rest of our classmates are executed by Monokuma. In the end, there’s going to be blood. I mean, who wouldn’t try to graduate if the alternative is to stay in a building at the mercy of Monokuma who has the building on lockdown and has security cameras even in your bedroom? But just to make sure we don’t choose peace, Monokuma comes up with a few motivations to get things started. Things like exposing your biggest secret or offering up stacks and stacks of cash (ok maybe I drooled at that one)
And of course there’s so much more in terms of the story but we don’t want to be spoiled, right? That’s the biggest appeal of the game after all!
I actually gave my impression of the characters in my first post but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to go through a couple again, mostly my favorites or characters I want to say a little something about. I’ll keep it spoiler free because this is a mystery game and I’m sure you’d all hate me if I told you the specifics 😉
- Aoi Asahina, The Ultimate Swimming Pro: My opinion hasn’t really changed towards Asahina but I will say that it’s sad that someone like her had to be part of this game. She just doesn’t have the heart for it…
- Byakuya Togami, The Ultimate Affluent Progeny: OH MY GOODNESS. So this guy is the biggest jerk out there but I kind of really like him?! Not only is he really good looking (borderline cute and handsome) but he’s really smart. But god he is messed up! He’s kind of perfect for this type of game but I do wish I had been able to interact with him more. He was just so snobby, looking down on me *clenches fist*
- Kyouko Kirigiri, The Ultimate ???: Out of all the characters, there’s just so much mystery around Kyouko. Mysteries that we start to piece together as the story progresses. And yeah, she’s kind of the leader we need in the game.
- Chihiro Fujisaki, The Ultimate Programmer: I think Chihiro is my favorite after Byakuya and Kyouko
- Junko Enoshima, The Ultimate Fashionista: I mentioned before that she served her purpose and that I wasn’t sad to see her go, well, opinion stays the same
- Sakura Oogami, The Ultimate Martial Artist: Wow. Just wow. I am amazed
- Touko Fukawa, The Ultimate Writing Prodigy: I think she’s contagious because now I’m considering calling Byakuya Master and talking to him just so I can get the cold shoulder (Lol!)
- Makoto Naegi, The Ultimate Lucky Student: MMMM. Well…let’s just say I still wasn’t very fond of him by the end of the game, but I also didn’t hate him so that’s good, right?
Aside from these impressions I really did like the character designs. They all fit that stereotypical look of their Ultimate. For example, Sayaka: The Ultimate Pop Sensation is all small and pretty and talks cute. Sounds pretty much like what I’d expect an idol to be like. Mondo, The Ultimate Biker Gang Leader has that crazy hairdo and is very rough around the edges, shouts a lot, and wears that long coat. Yeah, I think I’ve seen a lot of Mondo’s before
All of this helped me remember our characters, if not by name, then visually. Since there’s 14 of them, it did take me a while to remember who was who, but the game does have a Report Card section with the profiles. If I ever forgot a name, which I did often in the first two chapters, I would just look them up on there
This part was probably what killed it and made it so interesting to me. I know, I’m not making much sense so let’s break it down. The gameplay (to me) is broken up into a couple sections.
The first part is the story, which is where we get all the information dumps. It’s just a whole bunch of dialogue that you need to go through in order to understand the game and to get to know the other characters. In this section, there is also a FREE TIME mode where we are allowed to roam around the building, explore, and get to know our classmates. When we get to know our classmates we start to fill out their report card section and we gain special abilities that we can use during trials. This is also the slowest and my most detested part of the game!
There are just some people that I don’t mind interacting with and others where I just do it because I have to interact with two people before the game moves on. Also, I really wanted to talk with Byakuya more but…but he didn’t let me #CRIES
Also, after certain events, we’re no longer allowed to interact with certain characters so if you want to fill out everyone’s report cards and gain both the skills and achievements related to this, you need to choose who you speak with carefully. I never really put much thought into this, as I usually just talked with whoever was nearby (GOD, I’m even lazy in-game, lol)
Aside from talking with our fellow classmates, we can also explore the school and as we learn more about our surroundings, we gain Monokuma Coins. These coins can then be used at the shop on the first floor to buy items that we can give out to our classmates (and then they’ll like you better). I also believe there is an achievement relating to this and collecting X-amount of items
This is probably my second favorite part of the game. Basically, once a murder is committed a couple things happen. One is that Monokuma announces the murder via televisions set up around the school. Once everyone is rounded up, we are given a log created by Monokuma of what happened, like the cause of death and where the body was found. Another is that two people will stand guard at the scene so that there is no tampering with the evidence. Lastly, we investigate
During investigations, the game won’t let you continue until ALL the items that are relevant in the case are investigated. This includes the items in the room, in other locations, talking with people, and doing it in a certain order. For the first investigation, I was trapped in my room forever until I realized what I’d missed
I found the first two cases to be the easiest because there were only so many things to investigate. Once we get further into the chapters, not only are the murders more elaborate, but we have to cover more ground and moving around the school is tedious. It’s like being in college where your class is on the far side of campus and in order to get to the next class you need walk at least 3 blocks to the other building but what you didn’t expect was how clogged the elevators would be and how not even the stairs would be your saving grace.
Once we’ve investigated everything that we need to, Monokuma will make an announcement about the trial. Everyone will gather over at a red door and we’ll go underground where there is an elaborate trial area with everyone gathered in a circle. The rules here are pretty simple: we go through our clues, decide who is guilty, and then witness an execution
P.s. To anyone who sucks at games like me, don’t worry, there is no DEAD END part. The game always asks if you want to try again and you just select yes and the trial continues
There are actually a couple plays that happen during the trials and this game sucks at explaining how to play (or maybe I suck at reading instructions?). I had to go online so many times just to figure out how to play a section!
In order of images, left to right:
- Not sure if this part has a name but I call it the Discussion/Counterargument section. This is where everyone talks about the murder and puts out their ideas. And this is where we counter argue anything that doesn’t make sense using our Truth Bullets. We will always have the Truth Bullet necessary in order to move onto the next part of the game. As the chapters progress we do get a couple additions to this section such as Noise (exclamations others say that stop your TBs from counterarguing unless you shoot them away) and Absorbing/Creating new TBs from other people’s arguments
- Hangman’s Gambit, a section where we need to shoot down floating letters to create a word that is relevant to the case. To me, this is like hangman, except a bit easier since you get a clue before you play. Sometimes some letters will be easy to shoot down and other times you need to hit it a couple times
- We also have a Bullet Time Battle where we face off against another classmate who is really against what you’re saying. To me, it’s similar to Rock Band/Guitar Hero because there will be a song and you need to hit the little white dots in time with the music. The Danganronpa addition is that you have to destroy the character’s “noise”. Every time you hit the beat accurately, your “gun” reloads and you can get shoot down the “noise”, however, you need to be quick about it. If you’re not shooting down enough noise, you start to lose the game. As you move on, the tempo quickens and there’s even an ability where your guides (the white dots) disappear and you need to keep playing the tempo blind. I really like this one because it’s fun (lol)
- The Closing Argument is always the one that kills me. At the end of the trial, we need to fill out the missing pieces of a comic strip. Basically, everything that we’ve discussed needs to be put in order of events. Especially in the later chapters, I would lose some of the little details and where they fit in the story
I believe these were all the different parts of the trial. As you continue to later trials, there are little tidbits added to each battle so the difficulty goes up. I always looked forward to this section because I wanted to know how the murders happened but also because I liked how it felt like I was actually playing a game and not just reading off a story
If anything, I’m just sad that there never seemed to be a way of losing. During the trial battles you were always given a chance to try again and during your investigation, you always had all the relevant pieces of the puzzle so there was no way to not pick the right murderer
This one is tough! If you want to go back and experience every mystery like you did the first time it’s not going to happen unless you’re like me and have a terrible memory. Once you know who killed who, it’s hard to get that feeling of surprise or OH SNAP, or I knew something was fishy here. And I also wouldn’t go back and experience Free Time willingly unless there was some sort of reward for me. Which there is if you’re into achievements (though they’re not even fun achievements)
Personally, I’m not 100% sure I want to replay the game so close to having finished the storyline because I really disliked Free Time, but I would like to go back and replay some of the later chapters. No lie, I was about 90% confused and off track with those cases so I’d like to try again and work backward now that I know the end game.
As soon as I started playing the game, I noticed a couple things I liked and didn’t like. One thing I wasn’t a huge fan of was Makoto, which was a big negative since he’s technically the main character and the one I play as. As the game progressed, I was hoping that I’d start to like him more but I ended up in limbo with him. I didn’t like him but I also didn’t dislike him. He probably won’t be a character I remember down the line, unlike some of the other Ultimates in the game. One being my bishie bae Byakuya Togami. I may have loved how ruthless he was and he was cute, hehe
I haven’t mentioned the animation at all in this post but I just want to say it was Great. My favorite moments were actually during the executions, more so the initial ones because they were so elaborate and Brutal! There were also the parts where the characters would retain their 2D format against the animation. I haven’t seen anything like this before so I thought it was very neat.
But what really sold this game to me was the ending. I think it’s just one of those things that steadily creeps up on you and once you’re hooked, there’s no going back. Also, that ending was so GOOD and I didn’t expect it, at all. I think the only way you could have guessed is if you have some seer ability that showed you playing the end of the game. But even then you’d be surprised. While I was struggling with certain parts (free time), I just really enjoyed the premise, the trials, some of the twists, and the end.
Though I did end up curious about what exactly happens next for our characters! I did end up buying the next game and WOW ok, I’m on the trials for the first murder and just, MY HEART. Still, I’m not sure when I’ll actually finish the game
I know there are a lot of people who like this game and series (yes, apparently it’s a TV series!) and while I’m not Hooked, I can see the appeal. But if you guys have played the game, what did you think? Is there something I forgot to play that I should? I know there’s like a school mode that is activated after you finish the game but I just didn’t understand how that worked. I might go back to it later though (like LATER) lol
Played on: PS Vita
Rating: 4 out of 5
Play Time: ~ 12 hours
Enjoy my content? Want to support me? Feel free to follow me on social media (FB, Twitter, Instagram), like this post, share it, and/or leave some comments so I know I’m not just screaming into the void! You can also support me by buying me a coffee ^^