How would you feel, being monitored 24/7 by an artificial intelligent system of government? To what end are you willing to abide by the laws which pre-determine your entire life for you.
Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness is a visual novel video game based on the hit anime series, Psycho-Pass. Developed by 5pb and published by NIS America, Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness is available across multiple platforms including Xbox One (only in Japan), PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita and Microsoft Windows.
Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness is set in a dystopian future, wherein citizens of Tokyo are judged based on their susceptibility to commit crimes, determined by the artificial intelligent system known as the Sybil System. The game follows the style of the anime series to a T and essentially fits within the early episodes of Season 1, though the game doesn’t tie into any of the anime’s arcs and effectively is a standalone.
Players begin the game by choosing to play as either Inspector Nadeshiko Kugatachi, a woman who has lost all memory of her past, or as Enforcer Takuma Tsurugi, who moved to Tokyo to investigate the disappearance of his good friend.
Throughout the game, players are met by characters from the anime series, giving players the sense of truly being a part of the Criminal Investigation Division of the MWPSB (the Public Safety Bureau). Each character helps drive the narrative of the game forward and assists with the in game world building, that is, providing players with insight into the in game world and its happenings. Familiar faces, such as Enforcers Kougami and Kagari, are a delight to see and work alongside (if you have seen the anime series and have gone beyond season 1, you will understand why the inclusion of these characters are a delight). However, whilst the original anime characters are a welcome addition to the game, the almost expressionless, 2D way in which they are presented saps away any emotion and ‘action’ of the game.
Being the first visual novel style of video game I’ve ever played, I was certainly not used to having to sit through endless text and story. A large portion of Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness involved simply pressing ‘next’ on the screen to churn through dialogue and/or story. For those who are impatient and are looking to dive right into the action sequences, this is not the game for you. Even though some may find this style of gaming unusual, Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness excels in providing gripping and thrilling plot twists and a story that is beyond entertaining. Despite having to sit through static text loops to get to the crux of the story and the game’s main plot, the end result made the game feel as if it was just another episode to the anime series, which, as a fan of the series, was an incredibly good thing.
Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness tasks players with solving unrelated mysteries, which when looking at as a whole, points to a much larger conspiracy and threat, known as Alpha. While solving mysteries is appealing, it can be a little disappointing that no real act of investigation actually takes place, that is, as a visual novel, the game does not allow players to actively pursue an investigation, rather, they are to simply make selections and decisions, affect the direction in which the game takes place. Some of these decision making also involves choosing which team to be on and whether to take medication to improve your mood, which inevitably is about managing your psycho-pass and hue (the level in which citizens are measured by the Sybil System). It’s equally disappointing that players are not able to do anything with the multitude of cool tools and weaponry, such as Dominators, that are at the MWPSB’s disposal. I would have very much liked to have been able to operate a Dominator in game.
Despite some of these aspects in which the game lacks, Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness is a game with an incredible soundtrack, much like that in the anime, and is visually and graphically stunning, illustrating a world infused with advanced technology. Beautifully crafted and being akin to the anime’s cyberpunk style and themes, Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness is a game that is ultimately appealing, especially to the eyes.
With plenty of story and a multitude of choices, Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness is a game that encourages more than one round of gameplay and incites excitement as to the endless possibilities. As a fan of the anime series and with a penchant for mysteries, this game certainly caught my fancy and made me feel as if I was part of the CID team investigating crimes. If you are a fan of the series and of visual novels, I highly recommend Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness.