"Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc" is the first title of the investigative-themed visual novel series "Danganronpa", created and published by Spike Chunsoft first on psp and then finally on Steam, which serves as the progenitor for what will be a successful series. While not many have played the visual novel, those who frequent the series with a high cosplay rate will remember the success had by the character of Junko Enoshima, much appreciated at the time.
Despite the past eleven, Danganronpa belongs to those videogame series that do not age by a day, either for the simplicity of the gameplay or for the niche to which they belong, and this will be an excellent opportunity for those unfamiliar with the franchise to hear about it.
Everything revolves around Hope's Peak Academy, the high school that gathers students from all over the world completely free of charge through a scouting process. To be invited are in fact only the boys who are recognized with a very specific talent, the Ultimate, which varies from person to person, which could make them the best ever in that field. The purpose of the school is to train the young people who will become the hopes of tomorrow, giving them a place where they can hone their skills and cultivate their talents.
Each year, Hope's Peak Academy draws a single non-enrolled student from around the world. This person is invited to enter with the title of "Ultimate Lucky Student" and is the only talent of which there are "duplicates".
The protagonist of Trigger Happy Havoc, the first title in the series, is Makoto Naegi, Ultimate Lucky Student of the class 78, who finds himself unconscious shortly after entering the school. Upon awakening he will discover how the school is armored, able to withstand a long siege, and how his class is condemned to live there forever by principal Monokuma.
“Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc” is an investigative game that takes the form of a visual novel but, unlike many other titles, makes interaction with the player a focal point of the adventure. Players will allow Makoto to explore Hope's Peak Academy, talk to people, find clues and solve the mystery that sees them trapped in the school.
The game features, in the main story, three modes of interaction: free time; investigation and class process. In the first phase, the freer one, players will be able to choose to explore different classrooms, rooms or important places of Hope's Peak Academy, and then spend time with their classmates, deepening their knowledge, or return to the room to rest. The second phase is already becoming more complicated, because in the investigation it will be necessary to find all the clues available in order to be prepared for the trial. There is no need to worry, although it seems that the time available is limited, moving on to the next stage implies having found all the clues and spoken to all the relevant people.
Last but not least, the class process, the heart of the gaming experience and part in which Danganronpa launches into the new respect to titles of the same genre (one among all Ace Attorney) through the skilful use of many small mini-games.
The exploration, both during the investigations and during the free time, is encouraged by the presence of collectible coins that can be spent to buy gifts for our classmates.
The titles of the Danganronpa series base their beauty entirely on the characters, all with a unique aesthetic and personality design, which will make players fond of them and make them fear for their destiny. While getting to know them is a long process, each one will surprise the player with a different story, personality and thoughts about Hope's Peak Academy. The characters presented are sixteen in total: fifteen students and the principal Monokuma, who has become the symbol and mascot of the series.
The design of the villain of this game, as well as its symbol, deserves special reflection. Monokuma is presented to us in a big way, and his teddy bear nature makes what he says utterly odd. Very early in the game we discover how he has total control of the school and how beating him can lead to disastrous results. The version with the English dub aims to make it seem irritating while the Japanese one pushes on her tenderness, so much so as to create a disjointing effect through the voice actress: the same as Doraemon.
To be a visual novel, Danganronpa is not very long and the presence of many interactions with the player allows the latter not to perceive the time that passes. The title is finished in a couple of weeks, dedicating a few hours to the evening without the need for big marathons, and the ending will make players want to immediately start the second: Goodbye Despair.
The game received an animated adaptation in 2013 from the studio Lerche. Although the events narrated are faithful to those of the game, the rhythm used by the series does not allow to convey the original sensations of the visual novel, thus creating a banal and not at all appreciable anime. If possible it is advisable to retrieve the title on Steam, with the recent possibility of downloading the Italian translation.