My Year of Gaming: Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
I purchased a Playstation 4 at the beginning of 2017 and it is the first time I have had a console since Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword came out on the Wii. Naturally, I have a lot of catching up to do and my backlog is incredibly massive. During the course of a year, I played my way through 23 games, and I figured I would take the time to share a little bit about each game. Perhaps you’ve played them and want to hear another opinion, or maybe you’ve been holding off on investing in a particular game. Either way, it’s never a bad time to spread your love of gaming.
For something a little bit different than your normal gaming experience, I suggest Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (2010), which is an adventure visual novel video game. This entails a whole lot of reading, but it is well worth it for the interesting story and rich characters.
The first game in a trilogy, Danganronpa is the story of 15 students who wake up in Hope’s Peak High School with no memory of how they got there. Hope’s Peak is a school for the elite, so all of them have a special ability that makes them unique. The main protagonist is Makoto Naegi, who is called the Super High School Level Luck because he gained admittance to Hope’s Peak through a lottery. As you first explore the school, you discover that all the windows have been boarded up, the exits locked. Then, everyone is called to the gym where a bear named Monokuma appears and declares the start of the killing game. He says that the only way to get out of the school is to kill one of your classmates and get away with it.
The game is separated into two sections. There’s the daily life where you can explore the campus (more parts of the building opens up as the game progresses) and deadly life where you investigate the murder of a classmate and then participate in a class trail to figure out who did it. Monokuma announces that if the killer (or blackened) is discovered, then they will receive their punishment. If the class comes to the wrong decision or the vote isn’t unanimous, then everyone but the killer will be punished and they go free.
The trails are incredibly fun and challenging. There are different mini-games that you have to complete using the evidence you’ve collected during the investigation. My favorite is the “Non-Stop Debate” where your classmates say their argument and you have to find weak points, eventually shooting those weaknesses with your “Truth Bullets” (or evidence). It sounds a bit complicated, but the game is good about easing you into the trial and then ramping up the difficulty as the game progresses. After each trial is over, and if the correct verdict is reached, the killer is executed by Monokuma.
This game is not for the faint of heart. Obviously, there’s murder happening all around you and a lot of the scenarios end up breaking your heart. The game does a really good job of making you care for each and every one of the characters, so its terribly emotional whenever you lose one. There’s a bunch of stuff near the end of the game that just about destroys your spirit. There is an anime adaptation, so I went into the game knowing how it was all going to play out, but it still hurt. Something that the game does better than the anime is the development of the characters and their relationships to each other. Be wary of who becomes your favorite character. They may not make it out of the killing game alive.
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is available on PS4 along with its sequel Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair in a single release called Danganronpa 1-2 Reload. The third game in the trilogy, Danganronpa V3, was released just last year and all three are worth a play. The story is interesting, the characters are all really great, and the music is excellent. The music really lends itself to the game by creating a chilling atmosphere. When I was playing through each game and some of the repeated themes appeared, I would find myself filled with dread or anxiety because I knew what was coming. And usually, it’s bad.