First of all, let me say this: This game is not your average visual novel. It tackles extremely deep subjects such as mental, physical and domestic abuse, death, traumatisation, rape and sexual assault. If you are sensitive to these subjects, then either proceed with caution or turn away now.
Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness, based within the anime of the same name, is a rich visual novel that was recently localised in the EU; within the world of Psycho-Pass, society is ruled by the Sibyl System, a computer system that judges human beings, rating their Hue, otherwise known as an individual’s mental state – It is the job of Enforcers to examine and tackle threats to people’s Psycho-Passes, and Crime Coefficients; Hue, as explained below by the Psycho-Pass wiki, is quite hard to get your head around:
“Every citizen in Sibyl’s database is assigned a certain color depending on the state of their Psycho-Pass. Clear colors such as light blue or pink indicate a strong and healthy Psycho-Pass. While colors such as medium green or steel blue indicate a deteriorated Psycho-Pass. A clouded Hue is usually occurs because of stress. For example, violent urges or nervous reactions an individual may feel can cloud the Hue.”
This is then paired with a person’s Crime Coefficient, which is a ranking from 0% to 999% that rates the individual’s possibility of thinking or committing a crime; Coefficieints below 100% are deemed safe for society, and are left alone by the Enforcers of society; Coefficients between 100% and 299% are deemed threats to society, and are non-lethally subdued, and brought into mental health institutions for treatment and rehabilitation; Coefficients above 300%, however, are deemed as ‘irredeemable’, and are to be killed on sight in often gruesome, gory explosions of blood and entrails. Note that it is uncommon for individuals to be warped past the point of 300%, however various individuals in the world, such as mass murderers, predators and other huge-scale criminals can often reach up to around 500% Coefficient, with the highest-ever recorded reading in the series being 899%.
Got all that…? Good! Now onto the review!
Psycho-Pass: MH is a visual novel, and an extremely deep one at that, with branching paths, numerous endings, and small minigames to boot, which will easily last you a good 20-30 hours, multiple playthroughs and may even draw you into the anime…If you can survive reading for massive periods of time. The plot follows one of two main characters, either new-intake Inspector Nadeshiko Kugatachi or veteran, emotionless Enforcer Takuma Tsurugi, both of which being featured in one-another’s story – One great point that Psycho-Pass achieves is that both of these plots, whilst interlocked, are entirely different, with the two characters being polar to one another, and them both wanting completely separate end goals, meaning you could play through one time as one main character, and then play as the other, and have a completely different experience.
As I mentioned before, morality, success and choice all determine which path you take in Psycho-Pass; I will be spoiling the first case you follow in the game in order to talk about the subject matters and mechanics of Psycho-Pass a bit more – If you do not want to be spoiled for the first few hours of Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness, please skip to the bottom of the article for my final verdict!
Once again, if you’re sensitive to the subjects labelled above, then proceed with caution or turn away now.
So in your first few hours of Psycho-Pass, you’re introduced to the characters, the world, various bits of jargon, and then kicked out into the wild world on your first case, in order to find a girl named Shiori, who had been blackmailed into becoming an old schoolfriend, Haruto; the two constantly outrun the Enforcers, being aided by a mysterious A.I. known as Alpha, who continuously causes havoc for the Enforcer’s electronics; over the course of the case, Haruto’s mental state rapidly declines, falling into the realms of insanity as he lusts more and more for Shiori, hinting at subjects such as a “Lovers’ Suicide”, or perhaps running away from education, their parents, and society as a whole. In the end, Haruto barricades himself with Shiori inside of an abandoned Library, where Haruto beats Shiori senseless for minutes, as she falls further into despair, being quite content with simply dying to escape the current situation – It is then implied that Haruto then rapes Shiori.
And it doesn’t get better from here…
After all this, and hunting down the pair, depending on how quickly you got to the couple, you’re presented with three options, from which you can control none on your first playthrough without a guide; you either:
- Passively subdue the two since their Coefficient is between 100% – 199%
- Gruesomely kill Haruto since his Coefficient is above 200%
- Gruesomely kill both Shiori and Haruto since both their Coefficient are above 200%
Not good, eh? And the worst part? The story only gets darker and more depressing with Chapter 2! There’s at least another 4 Chapters left!
Fortunately I had made it to the pair in time to save both of them, but regardless I was basically making bricks in my underwear out of tension, and even after solving the case, and coming to a peaceful resolution, I still felt uneasy for what the next case held in store…
All-in-all, Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness is a well-crafted, dark, gritty and edgy, detailed visual novel that I would happily play through a couple of times whenever I get bored of other visual novels such as Phoenix Wright or Danganronpa. The visuals are crisp and clean, voice acting (Whilst only in Japanese) is still top-notch, and the plot is tense and thrilling. My only concern is that I fear it will stumble near the end.
Given that, however, I rate Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness, a 7.5/10.
What’s the best visual novel you’ve ever played? Let us know in the comments below!