Published on April 14th, 2014 | by Michaela Buckley0
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
What’s better than a little sit down with a game about a killer bear, trapping students in a house and making them kill each other? Well, probably a lot of things, but few could be weirder.
In the Japanese visual novel style, (watered-down adventure game; or games for lazy people) Danganronpa follows a typical adventure game format, with sections being devoted to talking to people, story sections and wandering around, while the other part is detective work and court-style simulations in order to figure out who the killer is for that chapter. An atypical Battle Royale-style, the plot involves an elitist school whose students are the best of their respective fields, when the doors are all bolted up, they are asked to kill one another and get away with it, or be locked up forever, this means that there, for the most part, is no immediate agency allowing the rest of the game to play out as character-building exercise.
The story is linear, there is little you can do to affect anything, there is only one proper ending and little need for replayability, unlike in 999, where branching paths make different endings, with two playthroughs forming the bulk of the storyline.
Also unlike other visual novels, there is a huge emphasis on character levelling, each time you choose to spend your free time with someone you can level your relationship up and gain extra skills for use during the courtroom battle segments, this is pretty ironic as it means you are essentially hanging around with people so you can get skills from them, in order to beat them later. So not a very ‘pro’ tagonist then.
The different relationships with the characters can give new insight into the story, and also means that if you wanted to replay the game, you can use the fore-knowledge to optimise your time spent with them.
Much like other visual novels, the characters do carry animé tropes, which can be rather annoying and unnecessary, fortunately there are also a few interesting developments which make the situation a lot more bearable, despite being a game which intends to kill off most of its characters, it still has lots of surprises in store.
Clocking in about 20-25 hours, the game is longer than most visual novels/adventures localised to the west, and is about as long as a normal visual novel in Japan, however, with most of your time spent wandering corridors, exploring and talking to people, there is a lot more interesting gameplay than the usual fare.
Although not as compelling as 999 or as charming as Ace Attorney, the game forms its own niche with its unique gameplay elements, art-style and animé style storyline and characters and with a sequel on the way this looks to be a rather promising franchise.