Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness - PS Vita Review

PSYCHO-PASS Mandatory Happiness game

  • System: PlayStation Vita, Playstation 4, PC
  • Publisher: NIS America, Inc.
  • Developer: MAGES./5pb.
  • Release Date: September 13, 2016
  • Pricing:$49.99 (Standard Edition), $69.99 (Limited Edition)
  • Rating: Teen
  • Genre: Visual Novel
  • Official Website: http://nisamerica.com/games/psycho-pass/

Who it caters to

The world of visual novels has been expanding in the Western world from great dramas like Clannad: Tomoyo After to sci-fi epics like Steins;Gate. However, there is one upcoming visual novel that is sure to stand out to VN enthusiasts and anime fans, and that has to be the upcoming Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness, available on both PS4 and PS Vita, as well as, PC.

You pick between playing as the new Inspector, Kugatachi Nadeshiko, who cannot recall her past, or Tsurugi Takuma, an Enforcer who is doing everything he can to find his childhood friend who went missing. Nadeshiko doesn’t have a clear understanding of her own emotions, but what happens when she meets Tsurugi whose emotions run hot? The two partner up to try to find the entity who is stirring up a storm in Sado Marine City, where people are being forced to be happy.

Mandatory Happiness is the first Psycho-Pass title to be released in the United States. Its initial release was in Japan in May 2015, but it is scheduled to release in the United States on September 13, 2016, and in Europe on September 16, 2016. Playing off of the popularity of the anime, Mandatory Happiness will cater to many fans of Psycho-Pass with its alternate storyline based in a dystopian Japan. What happens when you work as a detective in a country where people are being judged not based on their actions but on their Psycho-Pass?

What to expect

Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness Trailer

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Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness utilizes the PSVita’s crisp display to tell a story using the best graphics available for a handheld. The sound and music used in the game are well thought out, capable of manipulating your emotions as each scene happens. Included as an extra are puzzle games that utilize a point reward systems so that you may collect points to invest in extras, such as character voices and storyboard artwork.

As you play the game, you can gain information on other people that you may view in the menu under, Tips. These will usually be character bios, histories, and explanations. With each playthrough, you can also work to earn each scene replay that you can view in the main menu under, Extras.

However, let’s be real. This is a Psycho-Pass title and it may not be as family friendly as you’d like it to be. The game depicts how the human psychology works and uses it to move the story on, so be prepared. This is not a light story.

Story

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Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness follows the story of either Nadeshiko or Takuma, who end up being partners with Nadeshiko as the Inspector and Takuma as the Enforcer. They are both the complete opposites, but as you go forward, you find out that they may have some similarities with each other. While they both try to solve their own personal mysteries, someone is working to make people happy in Sado Marine City, by making them lucid and taking away many of their inhibitions. You aren’t sure what is going on, but this entity is judging people on his own accord rather than using the Sibyl system, and you won’t stand for his type of happiness.

You find that people are making dangerous choices that affect the Hue of other characters and unfortunately, your judgement is not lenient enough to save the victims. You find that either you or your Enforcer must utilize the Dominator against even the most unlikely of people. The crimes that unfold in Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness can be truly troubling morally and leave even your character’s Hue cloudy. You may find that you must consume supplements to clear your Hue, lest your Hue become dark and clouded.

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As you attempt to figure out what is going on, pieces of your past come up and you find that you may be more invested in this case, more so than you ever believed. Along the way, you take the time to interact with different people from the Psycho-Pass anime including, Kagari (who is alive!), Akane, and Kogami. Depending on your choices, your interactions can lead to other storylines and relationships.

Whether you play as Nadeshiko or Takuma, you'll find out that you must make choices that may affect how you view your past, which also may negatively affect your present. Some secrets may never be revealed to you or you may be given difficult choices involving the entity known as Alpha. However, the choice is solely yours. Whether you choose to put a close to your own case or the one at hand is all in your own hands.

Gameplay

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The main characteristic of a visual novel is the branching storyline. In Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness, the storyline can change with any choice, regardless of your intentions. Whether or not you choose to seek your own memories or find the girl you love, will ultimately change the ending in a way you never intended. Even small interactions such as, which team you wish to assist with or whether or not you take the Dominatory in your own hands, can change anything. Playing through multiple times is expected to gain access to all of the scene replays, but it can also open new plot points that you didn’t notice before.

Most visual novels follow the same gameplay, which really involves reading and clicking. At various points in the plot, you will be asked to make a decision, which as we have stated, changes the course of the game. However, should you tire of reading and clicking, or require some different type of stimulation, there is, as stated, a puzzle game available to play in the main menu under, Extras. You can earn points here to gain access to storyboard outlines and voices.

One of the great aspects of Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness as a visual novel, is that the actual game is voiced in Japanese, however, everything is translated fairly well into English. You will come across a few grammatical and spelling errors during your gameplay, but it doesn’t affect the overall gameplay experience. You can opt to turn off all the voices or skip through dialogue, as well. However, a strange aspect of Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness compared to most visual novels, is the inability to collect CGs. While you can stare at the images as the characters talk, you cannot actually collect CGs from cutscenes. They are merely collected as scene replays.

The ability to check your Hue seems to be an afterthought in the game itself. You are given the option to take supplements from time-to-time to fix your Hue and your choices may affect your Hue, but it doesn’t seem to be a significant aspect. If you play in the place of Nadeshiko, who has a clear Hue, it can be confusing as your Hue changes color but you, and others, often describe your Hue as being completely clear.

Honey's Gameplay Consensus:

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Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness is a game for Psycho-Pass fans, there is no doubt about that. You will find yourself in a parallel world with the same characters and dystopian regime, but your favorite characters are back and you are given the reins to change the world as you desire. Will you become part of the Sibyl system? Will you destroy everything to maintain the peace? Or maybe, you will choose to fix all of your mistakes. Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness may seem like a simple visual novel, but don’t you dare doubt how complex Psycho-Pass can get. The gaming experience is not one to be missed.

Honey's Pros:

  • The same voice actors were retained from the anime making gameplay a nostalgic experience and adding fan service.
  • Wonderful visuals and emotional scenes that truly make each character unique.
  • Multiple playthroughs are not repetitive as events change significantly depending on your choices.
  • The story is compelling and brings up the idea of morality and how delicate it can be.
  • The ability to collect scene replays allows you to replay the emotional points of the game.

Honey's Cons:

  • The game is relatively short requiring less than 10 hours of gameplay, although each playthrough takes roughly the same amount of time as the story changes.
  • It’s really difficult to figure out which route you are on since there is no indicator or page that shows your stats with other characters.
  • The gameplay does not include collecting CGs.
  • The Hue aspect could be better to make gameplay a bit more difficult or at least make it more significant to the story.

Honey's Final Verdict(Thoughts):

My experience with Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness has been quite enjoyable and compelling, more so than with other big visual novel titles. I felt compelled to play multiple playthroughs and have been surprised a few times by how my choices may affect my gaming experiences. Sometimes, the mood feels quite sullen and characters reveal their innermost dilemmas, while other times, characters break through their own walls to reveal a new side of their personality that I have not even seen in the anime.

For those who enjoyed the anime, Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness is a visual novel you will not want to miss out on! It brings you into the Sibyl system and gives you the power and weight that comes with being a detective. While the gameplay isn’t long, the length does keep you from being bored at any point as the story does not drag. If you have not played a visual novel before, Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness may be the perfect place to start. Are there any fans out there excited for the new game? Well, don’t hesitate to pre-order your copy now!

Jenangelx3

Editor

Author: Jenangelx3

California based workaholic. Current mottos are “I don’t care” and “I’ll try almost anything once”. Interests include traveling, eating, video games, and weightlifting. Currently living life to the fullest, pursuing my happiness, and conquering my fears. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

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