A strange android goes missing and a town of fading existence becomes more and more lively as rampant cases begin to crop up all over and the affected hue’s of the citizens threatens the balance of this idyllic floating city. Enter the MWPSB’s Criminal Investigation Department as they valiantly attempt to put a handle on the situation. All of the seasoned Division 1 individuals are among the familiar faces we are greeted with upon the introduction of the game, but they are not alone for we have two new faces to become acquainted with. Inspector Nadeshiko Kugatachi (Who has her memories of her past missing) and Enforcer Takuma Tsurugi (He happens to have lost a lover and is searching in vain for her) are tasked to chase down the mysterious android called simply Alpha (Who simply wishes to bring others happiness with complete disregard for the established Sibyl System)in the once vibrant town just outside of Tokyo. The two make for an unlike duo as they follow the trail of the stolen android in an attempt to figure out what it’s motives and grand objective is. I would like to note that this game does run parallel with the first season of the anime of the same name, however the three aforementioned characters take no part in the actual anime.
A voiced story that is just as somber as it is gritty: Much like the anime Psycho-Pass Mandatory Happiness takes the familiar Division 1 into new territory while still holding true to the somber nature and grit that made the anime so enjoyable; which is due to the fact that Gen Urobuchi has returned to pen this script. The original cast has all returned in form for this game and while they teeter on the balance of almost stealing the show from the new front runners they thankfully do not. The new cast is just as capable with emotion, fear and anguish as they toil with the everyday issues of making sure to never run amok of a clouded hue. For our review we took the view point of the logical and practical Nadeshiko Kugatachi and it was a ride. Her stiff and often teased droid like behavior gave her an impression of a person was void of any feeling and just gave rational viewpoint. It was this sort of character that I enjoyed getting to know while I played through the story. She was a person who had much of her memory and past wiped and over the course of the game bits and pieces of random sayings, people and items slowly make their impressions upon her.
Her metaphorical shell cracks and the character that emerges from the cocoon is someone who is equal parts interesting. While we have yet to touch on the male choice Takuma Tsurugi his character is just as interesting when viewing him through the lens of another. He is filled with an anger over the missing lover for whom he struggles to find out why and where she went off to. I wish I had more to say on his character, but I can say that in our upcoming live stream of the game we will take his story approach in order to provide a better impression on his character. Both the voice actors for the two new individuals Aya Endo & Shinichiro Miki, even the new android of interest is voiced by the very talented Yuki Kaji. If you have followed us before you know that the voice work for us is not as big of a role in our reviews, however for a Visual-Novel game this is of the utmost importance and I want to safely say that this game has succeeded in that play extremely well; not perfectly mind you, but extremely well. If I had to nitpick with the voice work my only complaint would be with miscellaneous cast, but even then not by much. They are just as talented and expressive as the main-line cast. It is to be noted that there is no English voice work done here; just the original Japanese voice talent.
A Visual Novel that is a cut above the rest: Granted this is due in part to the fantastic story telling by Gen Urobuchi, but the visual-novel plays unlike anything else before it. Everyone is special in it’s own right and has its merits. Psycho-Pass Mandatory Happiness brings out a new caliber of storytelling and play that is frankly unmatched in our general opinion. While gore is general shied away from in this game it is present and used when it needs to be used. It doesn’t distract or detract from the actual appeal of the game and manages to keep you glued to the screen. It is the appeal of the formerly established Psycho-Pass series that brings you into this title. This was very much the case for myself as I had no interest in the series until I heard about this game. It is this pull that a game can rely on to help boost its interested buying base or to help provide long time fans with another entry in a series that is just brilliant.
The pacing of the game is just right. There is no part that was too slow or too fast. The action was placed in just the right moments and the background scenes were enough to keep your mind active with a varied pallet to play around with. With choices that impact how the story progresses the game will continuously keep you on our toes; it also ensures that you have something else to try out when you play through it all again. Having that amount of choice and then having the choice to play two different characters is just phenomenal in terms of having unexplored story potential and replay value. I want to say that this is groundbreaking, but it is frankly and already established point in visual novel storytelling as it gives longevity to otherwise shorter titles. While Psycho-Pass Mandatory Happiness is definitely coming from the same background as all other visual novels it manages to stand above the rest due to the fact that it is attached to such a well known series. Having an established lore and foundation to work off is what helps give this game a lot more substance than most out on the market.
A game at heart that is as simplistic and beautiful to play as it is to listen to it’s music: The selling point of any game is always on how well it plays and feels in the hands. Being that this game reigns from the visual novel kingdom it is very easy to control the game with only a view buttons being used to control the game. In our play time with our review copy we experienced no bugs or hiccups. If you have any of those within a simplistic game-type such as this then you are doing something entirely wrong. Thankfully this is not the case and you will find yourself familiar with the control set in no time; especially when doing a second play through of the title.
Now music and sound is an asset to a visual novel like no other. You are using your visual and hearing senses in order to pass judgement on a game like this. If the voice work, music, sounds or dialogue is off then the entire game suffers for it. You will literally be stuck in a vicious cycle of hating either the writing or the music itself. You do not want that in a game, period. Thankfully we are talking about Psycho-Pass here. The sound effects are as satisfying as they are from the anime and I would dare to say they reused a lot of the sound clips that were made for the anime. From the hefty sound of the Dominator weapons to the sound of glass breaking. All of it feels, sounds and looks right. I’m especially a big fan of the sounds that were set in place for the Dominator guns. These weapons are designed to interface with the user and they provide the user the ability to read the targeted person hue and crime coefficient; they can be safe or lethal. To give a flat two-dimensional image weight is pretty darned impressive in our books and Psycho-Pass Mandatory Happiness does this impressively well with its use of sounds effects.
Should this be a game to add to your collection: Now we all ask ourselves at the end of the day, “Is this new title worth my money and spot in my collection?” While I cannot speak for the masses on this one what I can say is that you cannot go wrong; if you are a fan of visual novels that is. If you want a game that allows you to move around in a three-dimensional environment; forget about it. You have to deal with two-dimensional images that move on occasion and simple backgrounds that will change fitting to the required mood. What we end up with is sadly a fairly niche title. This is not a bad aspect by any means as it adds value to it. For those of us who appreciate and enjoy visual novel styled games, it is superb in all rights. For fans of the anime they will enjoy another story set during the spectacular first season run of the anime of the same name.
OGZ Gives Psycho-Pass Mandatory Happiness…
+Strong Storytelling – Text based, may off put potential buyers.
+Strong Voice/Sound Work
+Great amount of replay-value!
If you are feeling adventurous then pick this title up when it launches on September 13th in the U.S. and September 16th for the EU. While we reviewed this title on our PS4 you can also grab this one for the PS Vita as well! The game comes in both a standard edition (49.99USD for the Vita & 59.99USD for the PS4) or the limited edition! (59.99USD for the Vita or 69.99USD for the PS4) The limited edition comes packed with a whole bunch of awesome goodies for the anime collectors our there; or for fans of the already amazing Psycho-Pass series. I would also dare to say it would work very well on the Vita as it is a very nice grab and go sort of game to play on an especially long trip.
As with everything we write, thank you so much for taking the time to read our very first review copy post! I cannot say thank you enough to the support and well wishes from everyone that helped to get Otaku Gamer Zone to this point! I look forward to bringing you all better content! A big thank you to NIS America for helping make this possible! Feel free to give their website a visit and while you are at it you should head on over to Funimation and check our the original first season!
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