PSYCHO-PASS is one anime series that really caught my attention when I watched it the first time around. With such a rich world, interesting characters and an engaging story, it made for one incredible series. Now PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness is here to fill the void as we wait for more of the anime. Developed by 5pb and published by NIS America for a whole host of platforms, I was able to sit down and spend sometime with the PlayStation Vita version of the game.
Set in the dystopian future Tokyo, people’s mental states are monitored to detect if they are criminal or not. To maintain order in this crazy future exists the Public Safety Bureau and it’s Criminal Investigation Division where your characters are based. Set in the timeline during the first half of the first season of the anime, PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness promises an engaging and thrilling story for players to experience. Just how it holds up when placed in the firing line however is what I hope to answer.
As a visual novel there is not much in the way of ‘gameplay’, so if you’re expecting to be in direct control of your character moving through the world you may be a little disappointed. The choices and paths available to you as you play, however, really do open up a lot of options. You’ll take up the of one of two characters playing the role of an investigator or an enforcer who are made up of latent criminals. The Sibyl System is what scans and measures the public’s brain waves to give a score of how likely they are to carry out crimes. Those criminals who are considered useful are assigned to the PSB as Enforcers. The investigators are their keepers of sort and make sure to keep them in check throughout their tasks.
Now the Psycho Pass anime is known for having a fantastic story throughout it’s two seasons and film. The game feels like it fits right into the standard of storytelling from the get go and honestly is pure fan service. From the characters you meet to the locations you visit. Even the voice of the Dominator (a talking gun) is spot on to the series and it sends a chill down my back everytime I hear it. What makes it even more enjoyable is that from the very start this is a true Psycho Pass story through and through.
PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness divides up into many routes very early on in the game which gives choices some real weight behind them. Should you go investigate the suspect’s house or go door to door trying to get information? Whatever you choice the timeline moves along and maybe you’ll end up in the wrong place for what could unfold next. It’s a case of real cause and effect and given the need to balance your hue you will find yourself under a good amount of pressure at times.
Given that PSYCHO-PASS as a series touches on some serious subject matter it’s no surprise that PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness would also do so very early on. That said however I think it should be mentioned that if you’re sensitive to some subject matters then maybe this isn’t the game for you. The first case for example tackles the actions of two young people who, as a result of the story development, leave to some implied actions unfolding which even for me was a little bit uncomfortable. Regardless, if you were okay with the series then you’ll be fine with PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness.
As a lot of time with be spent looking at still images and character artwork you’ll be pleased to know that the quality of the artwork is on par with that of the show helping to deliver the experience. The characters and backgrounds are all very detailed and have a good amount of small animations on them to keep PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness moving and feel alive. On the PlayStation Vita there is a small amount of lag between transitions which can make the progress feel a bit slow and sluggish, however. Loading times are quick and don’t take away from the experience but text speed could be a bit quicker to help speed through those slow moments.
One complaint that I do have with PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness is that sometimes the consequences of your decisions can be a bit odd. For example, in one instance I had the choice to shoot a target myself or get the enforcer to do it. For the sake of time I did it myself which, during the later digalog was what I exampled to my boss. Had I asked the Enforcer to do it it would’ve taken more time and things could of gotten worse. Seems like a logical course of action if you ask me but honestly I felt like I was punished for my actions. At other times as where even just picking where to go next can feel like you’ve made the worst decision ever because of how people react. It takes some getting used to.
As a whole PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness is a solid game that delivers one the expectation of fans. Sure it might have a few issues here and there but it lives up to sell that feeling of being a detective in a dystopian Tokyo. It’s dark, serious, challenging and satisfying with plenty of twists and turns. It might not be what you expect and that’s a good thing. PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness is worth checking out if your a fan of the series or not and if you are a fan, do check it out. Just make sure to keep your hue in check or the Sibyl System might be onto you.
PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness is available now for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.
This review is based on a PlayStation Vita copy of the product provided by the publisher.