+Stories are short, deep, and incredibly well written
+Anime knowledge isn’t required, but is suggested
+Choices matter, big time, even the small ones
+Multiple endings that actually reflect your choices made
-The graphic novel approach could deter some players
-Better choice options could be priceless if better ones were put in
When looking at games, many of us are used to narrative driven shooters, action-adventure, and even RPG titles. Many of us are used to scaling across landscapes, through buildings, and focus on rather active games, but what if one of the best narrative titles didn’t have any of this? What if this game was presented as a children-esque picture book made for adults? That’s exactly how PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness is approached.
While that seems like a negative to some, PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness isn’t scared of bad endings, and it isn’t ashamed of them. This game is fatalist in every sense of the word. One wrong choice could result in a rather grotesque and brutal death of the main protagonist. Want to play the 20-to-30 hours I did and know that your character could very well die? That’s fine if you are up for it. This game isn’t scared to give you that formulaic approach. It’s built into this games nature.
If you play it like I did, you’ll also know you can complete this game in one swift and direct playthrough. With it lasting only roughly 3-4 hours per story (one of mine took a bit longer due to my PlayStation TV not loving this game as it should have, which was hardware based problems), I was able to see quite a few endings within 9 hours. Luckily, this game tempts you to actually play it once more, and if you think you want to ignore all the possible endings, I’d by you dinner if you didn’t have even the slightest want to obtain them all. Hell, I’m still playing due to this.
Psyco-Pass: Mandatory Happiness is Based on an Anime After All
While it’d be hard to justify a game not based on an anime, PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness follows suit in this world that’s already been created. Just as the anime is actually relevant to the game, Mandatory Happiness is more-so an offshoot of the already established franchise.
In Mandatory Happiness players take the role of one of two characters. Players can choose from either Nadeshiko Kugatachi or Takuma Tusurugi. Both of these characters are unique in the sense that both of them come from different backgrounds. Nadeshiko is an Inspector for the Public Safey Bureau. Takuma is an Enforcer. Both of these characters serve very different roles within the game, and each of them also give a new insight to their own underlying plots. Something that is quite important to the end of the game.
For those unfamiliar with PSYCHO-PASS lets take a bit of a look into it before we begin. The series starts in a rather futuristic Japan where technology has reached all new heights when it comes to surveillance. This new technology has reached a point to where it can keep tabs on everyone and will predict their chance of committing a crime. If they get near it, the system will warn them and alert the authorities of such a risk. Let alone does it do this, the system also creates a profile about each of the citizens it watches over. With the Big Brother-esque Sibyl Systems in place, everyone is not free of being scanned. The system scans, as stated, both mental and emotional metrics in order to keep a check on everyone’s “Psycho-Pass”.
In this system, people are monitored based on a Hue. If a person’s stress level changes, their color will grow cloudy, and if it continues to stay cloudy too long, they are flagged as a risk for society. Society’s goal is to keep their Hue clear, which means they must control their anger or their sadness. On top of the Hue, Psycho-Pass also has a Crime Coefficient that works along side with it. This number, the Crime Coefficient that is, keeps a number on the citizens. If the number reaches a certain point, the Public Safety Bureau (PSB for short) will send a detective team of Inspectors and or Enforces to determine if a person needs to be enforced. If they do, they’re knocked unconscious with a weapon known as a Dominator. If people are knocked out, they are sent to a hospital to try and rehabilitate.
If that was too long, lets just understand that Minority Report is an excellent movie to use to describe this system and how crime is predicted, but with technology instead of psychics. Regardless of which character you play, you’ll learn that one of them has lost their memories, the system has decided that one of the characters needed to rehabilitate before going back into action. Unfortunately, this does set one of the characters apart from the other, which creates a void between what characters should expect in the long run. This aspect brings the anime to life within the game and makes it so players don’t exactly have to understand the anime in order to play.
There’s No Action Outside of the Graphic Novel Reading
While many of you are quite possibly used to anime games such as Freedom Wars, Lost Dimension, and even Soul Sacrifice – Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness forgoes all of this for the graphic novel -like appeal. While Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness would work quite well as an action game, the fact it comes off as a graphic novel works out quite well for fans. Even with all the reading, it’s a game that is rather addicting once players get started.
While I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least slightly discouraged by the graphic novel appeal, PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness, is one of those that has been very well done to the point that players would find themselves drawn in more than once. Decisions, as you would expect, play a major role in this game, even the smallest ones. In PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness players will find decisions to be something of importance in completing their play throughs one by one. However, how will your decisions be made? Will you infiltrate a location that serves as a home base to a possible suspect? If not, will you stay back and research your options? All of these will play a radical point in your overall story. Each of them will manipulate your possible endings.
PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness – PS4, PS Vita, and PC
Publisher: NIS America
Released: Available Now
While these choices certainly don’t seem as exciting as they should, each one serves their purpose, and each of them remains important to the stories final outcome. If you were to look at the Steam achievement list or even the PlayStation Trophy list, the possibilities for your options are truly astonishing at what you could do. While I could argue that PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness is an astonishingly well crafted game. For players that want a game with multiple outcomes, multiple choice paths to take, and multiple endings this is one for their shelves, this is a must have as fans of the anime will surely find this game a diamond in the rough.
To be honest? Because of this anime. I’ve found myself watching the anime in order to understand the game world a bit better.
Our review is based on a full release version that was provided to us by the games publisher. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
Final Score: 8 out of 10
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter, Google+, and or you can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.