Thanks to NIS AMERICA for the review code
Title: PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness
System: Playstation Vita/TV
Release Date: 09/13/2016
In this visual novel game, you choose between the two main characters, Takuma or Nadeshiko as they work with a special group of law enforcement to stop the rise of a mysterious criminal named Alpha.
For the most part, it looks like your basic visual novel, with the occasional prompt to do a certain action. (sometimes with four different choices to take, leading to a lot of different outcomes depending on how much you do) The other characters do show up on screen from time to time and the background will change depending on the current location, but for the most part nothing visually exciting tends to happen until major scenes, where the background gets replaced by what’s taking place.
Music and Sound
Due to the nature of this game, most of the music only plays during particular scenes to fit the mood. For example a scene where a dangerous confrontation is taking place would be accompanied by a tense theme, and the same rule applies to pretty much every scene in the game, making it pretty hard to explain much about the score. However one strong point regarding the sound is the voice acting, which is all in Japanese and is pretty spot on. Unfortunately, they didn’t hire the Funimation actors for an optional english dub, leaving the audio only in Japanese, but the actors still do a good enough job to keep you engaged despite the language barrier.
Since this is a visual novel, there’s little gameplay when it comes to the main story mode, outside of choosing the right options, which can gradually alter the story as you complete each chapter. However there is a bonus puzzle game separate from the main story that is required to unlock character voice clips, artwork and cutscenes for the gallery. This minigame is a fairly standard stage-by-stage tile shifting game where the main goal is to combine two tiles of the same number to create a bigger number, up until you reach the number requested in the top left of the screen. Doing so the correct amount of times will allow Akane to capture a mystery thief, which will award you points to spend in the gallery. While the stages themselves are the best way to obtain points, you can also obtain points depending on how well you do in the endless mode, which is pretty much a clone of the 2048 game with no special obstacles or requirements. However it’s important to keep in mind that even if you do have enough points to buy a cutscene or piece of art you must make it to a certain point in the story modes to actually unlock it. (Voice clips can be unlocked from the start regardless of story progress, thankfully.)
In conclusion, Psycho-Pass manages to do what few anime games succeed at, and that’s providing a unique experience that can be enjoyed by both fans of the anime and those who have never heard of the anime before (like myself) With an in-depth side story that has multiple endings and paths to take, this won’t be a visual novel that you’ll 100% in an hour or so. Heck, even the bonus minigame is a lot of fun, and a great way to unlock bonuses for both the trophies and to check them out for yourselves. If you’re looking for a fun visual novel that isn’t made by Spike Chunsoft, then I think Psycho-Pass will get the job done nicely, even if you haven’t seen a single second of the anime before. (although this game may encourage you to check it out)
I give Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness an 8 out of 10, and recommend it to all visual novel fans looking for a new Vita game to play. (or PS4, as this game is on that system as well)