Review: Psycho Pass: Mandatory Happiness (PlayStation Vita)
- Release Date (NA): September 13, 2016
- Release Date (EU): September 16, 2016
- Release Date (JP): March 24, 2016
- Publisher: NIS America
- Developer: 5pb
- Genres: Visual Novel
- ESRB Rating: Teen
- PEGI Rating: Twelve years and older
- Also For: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
Happiness for all
You start off by choosing your main character between Inspector Nadeshiko Kugatachi, suffering from amnesia or Enforcer Takuma Tsurugi, who is in search of his lost lover. Whoever is your choice, you're soon greeted by the familiar members of the Public Safety Bureau.
Wait. Too many new terms for you?
Indeed, Psycho Pass: Mandatory Happiness requires you to have watched at least a few episodes of the anime to familiarise yourself with the world it takes place in.
Enter Psycho Pass. In a authoritarian dystopian Tokyo, the inhabitants' mental states, personalities, and their propensity to commit crimes are monitored by the Sibyl System via omnipresent sensors which allocate them their Psycho Pass level. The probability of a person engaging in crimes is measured by the Crime Coefficient and should it increase, necessary measures are taken which range from incarceration to on the spot execution. Everyone works the role that best suits their abilities, bringing an "ideal" society into existence.
Once an individual's Crime Coefficient rises above the limit, he/she is to be intercepted by members of the Public Security Bureau's Criminal Investigation Division, namely Inspectors (detectives) and their subordinates Enforcers (so called latent criminals).
Psycho Pass Mandatory Happiness takes place within the same universe, featuring the same characters as in the anime's first season and it also introduces two new characters. Two of those are the Inspector and Enforcer who you have to choose as your main character and the third character is a hacker going by the pseudonym Alpha. Alpha aims to bring happiness to everyone by any means possible, particularly by bypassing the Sibyl System's security.
As you progress through the game, the story of your chosen protagonist unfolds and through the choices that you make you'll discover more about him or her. These choices affect your Psycho Pass level but don't really change the course of the story. Choices rather change the character's place in the story, getting you closer to a character from the anime and unlocking a special scene with them and how much you'll uncover about the mysterious Alpha.
Since you have a choice of the protagonist, you'll be very much tempted to replay the game with the other character and see the cases you engage in with a whole new perspective.
Much visual, less game?
The game features an art style faithful to the anime, with the characters being mildly animated during dialogues mostly to convey emotions. They are even voiced by the original Japanese voice actors, with English subs.
However, this visual novel includes much dialogue and less hands-on action other than activating your Dominator (your personal gun that can be activated only by authorized entities) and a few dozen choices. If you were looking for more action and have no patience to read a lot before actually doing something, you won't be served here.
Despite being a PSVita game, physical buttons are almost exclusively used. And since there is nothing as a tutorial you'll have to familiarize yourself with the button layout. The menu can be accessed with the square button where you can conveniently load/save at any time. Tips are also available regarding the game's characters and the terminologies. But the font is rather small and the text cannot be zoomed in, so you'll be squinting a lot if you're trying to read about a term you're not familiar with.
All of these features imply that the game wasn't really tailored for the PS Vita but the console still manages to deliver a satisfactory experience.
As a fan of the anime, and literature in general, Psycho Pass: Mandatory Happiness provided me with a fair share of fun time despite its shortcomings. It played in a familiar setting while introducing new elements, and emanated the same gritty sensation that is typical of the anime. However it might not be targeted towards a wide audience. I'd recommend watching the anime first, which is in itself very good and then play the game. You'll surely enjoy it much more than just playing it without any prior background.
+ New characters
+ Faithful to anime
+ Interesting and original story
+ Choice of protagonist
+ Conveniently save/load at any point
- Little hands-on action
Despite the game running flawlessly on the PSVita, it isn't tailored for the handheld so tiny texts in the tips section and the lack of touch screen controls. If you have a PS4 or Xbox One you may prefer those versions.
You'll have lots to read before being presented with an action. If you're okay with it, you'll have a great time.
This isn't a short game, with different choices to be made and having the choice of protagonists makes it even longer and more repayable.
out of 10
(not an average)
Psycho Pass: Mandatory Happiness will definitely appeal to fans of the anime. However with the little amount of player action and lines and lines of text, it might drive some away. However it does compensate with its replayability and engaging story line.