As you probably read from my previous reviews, I am a huge anime fan. I love everything about them! The drama, characters, emotions… I can just go on and on. One of the first anime’s I saw that really helped develop my love for them was PSYCHO-PASS. It drew my attention for many reasons. The characters, stories, I was always hoping for Akane Tsunemori and Shinya Kogami to get together. But that part was probably because of my hopeless romantic side. Because I fell in love with this anime, when I found out that the game was being localized, I freaked out and couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Read on for my full PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness review.
Title: PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness
Publisher: NIS America
Available On: PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
Reviewed On: PlayStation Vita
Release Date: September 13, 2016
Copy Supplied by Publisher
In the very beginning of the game you have to choose if you want to be a female character who is an Inspector named Nadeshiko Kugatachi, or a male character who is an Enforcer named Takuma Tsurugi. I chose to play the female character because I always do when given the choice between the two. Although it doesn’t change much of the actual crimes and stories behind them, it does branch off and allows you to understand the deeper meaning and story behind the character you picked. So in the end, it’s worth playing through with each character if you want the full experience. This review is mostly written from the perspective of the female character, so keep that in mind.
If you pick Takuma, he is a bit of a hot head who is having trouble keeping his emotions to himself. He is extremely passionate about a childhood friend who he is searching for and always brings her up in conversations. On the other side, as Nadeshiko, you lost your memories because of a horrible accident. She is extremely cut throat and has a hard time expressing her feelings. She is so monotone and unemotional to the point the characters actually point it out and can sometimes be taken back by how little some cases bother her, or that she shows, which has earned her the nickname of “Ms. Droid.” Throughout the game if you play as her character you can feel a deeper connection with her and understand that she is trying extremely hard to express these sentiments, and she is just struggling and having a rough time. I guess you could say that you are with her step by step to help her fight those demons and watch her grow into an incredible Inspector. The new characters are one aspect of the game they did an amazing job with and it makes it easy to want to see them succeed.
Although I do love that they didn’t go off the anime completely and that it is set in a side story that runs in conjunction with the anime series, I do recommend that you watch it before playing this game. Mandatory Happiness plays as if you did watch it because otherwise you will feel like their is little to no character development for all the other characters that were featured heavily in the actual anime. And you won’t really understand what some of the characters say. If you did watch the anime before hand you’ll find yourself smirking because you know what that story was or what happened that they are referring to even though your character has no idea. However, it isn’t absolutely necessary for you to have watched PSYCHO-PASS in order to play this. If you decide to just play it and skip the anime, you will still find yourself satisfied with the end result.
In typical visual novel style, there are no cutscenes but there are pictures to help portray what exactly is going on. The art style is beautiful and exactly like the anime. The music is simple and is used more for just background noise so you aren’t just sitting there in silence reading what everyone is saying. The music changes depending on what’s going on. Even though it never truly grabs your attention, it is a pleasant tone that fits the game perfectly. There were a few scenes that I felt the music they chose fit wonderfully, especially during some of the tougher cases that were way more emotional than the others.
During PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness, you have to constantly check people’s Hue’s and make sure they are okay, otherwise you have to take them into counseling. If their Hue is too far gone, you have to take other actions to eliminate the problem. So what exactly is Hue? It allows the characters to monitor their emotions. If it gets clouded that’s when it starts to cause a problem. You of course need to make sure you keep your own Hue in check so it doesn’t get clouded either. One thing that is relatively nice about the female character is that, due to her being unemotional, her Hue never really fluctuates. Although you don’t want to ignore it completely, it does make the game much easier than if you had to constantly worry about it. At the time of this review, I have not yet played through the male counterpart of the story, but I would assume he is probably completely different because he has problems controlling his anger. I do like this aspect of the game because it always keeps you on your toes and makes sure you do the right thing and make the right choices.
I do not want to give away too much on what the game is about, but I will say you will not be disappointed. Mandatory Happiness starts off with an AI who goes by the name Alpha escaping. He is trying to make his “mother” happy by making others happy because that’s what he was created for. Once you get deeper inside the game you learn the true meaning of who he is and why he needs to be stopped. Each case has it’s own charm and some cases will definitely hit closer to home than others. The idea of having to work together as a team with everyone is great and during your down time when you’re not working sometimes you will get invited to hang out with one of your co workers.
All together I thought PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness was very good. Every choice you make changes the outcome in the end so be very careful with what choices you make. And this goes without saying for veterans of visual novels, but save often! It makes multiple playthroughs a lot easier. At the end of the day, I felt like I could also start bringing justice to the world. I just have to start managing my own Hue first!