Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness is a visual novel based on the critically acclaimed cyberpunk anime. The story occurs sometime during the events of season one, which is just as well because most viewers consider series two to be a tad disappointing. I attribute the downturn in quality to a change of writer. For those of you who are unaware, a scribe who is known for gritty science fiction penned Psycho-Pass’ second instalment. The original Psycho-Pass was however written by a lighthearted chap named Gen Urobuchi, whose past works include a puppet show and cute magical girl cartoons. If you are in need of jolly entertainment I recommend checking out Madoka Magica. From the two episodes I have seen it appears to be just like Sailor Moon, but cuter.
If you dislike reading Mandatory Happiness is not the game for you. Makes sense given that visual novels are pretty much “choose your own adventure” books that have been enhanced with graphics and audio. I figure it is worth stating the obvious though, because a few months back I saw a website bash Steins;Gate 0 for having too much text. Insert face palm here. Anyways, upon commencing the game players are given the option of experiencing the story from the perspective of two rookie Public Safety Bureau agents. Inspector Nadeshiko (nicknamed Ms. Droid) is an emotionless amnesiac who tackles cases with logic. Enforcer Tsurugi, who is seeking his missing childhood friend, on the other hand uses his heart to decide what is right.
Mandatory Happiness’ plot spans across a total of four chapters. With the assistance of the Psycho-Pass team players will be expected to rescue kidnap victims, locate a rogue AI and tangle with youths who have barricaded themselves inside a school. How each investigation pans out depends on the choices you make. Decisions also affect your character’s mental hue, which is important because the Sybil System monitors the mood of Japan’s populace. Anyone who becomes emotionally unstable, which can occur when dealing with the stresses of law enforcement, runs the risk of being branded a latent criminal and having their freedoms revoked. Thankfully in game you can combat anxiety by taking supplements. In real life I prefer to unwind with booze or a Snickers.
As a fan of the anime I enjoyed my time with Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness. Interacting with the season one cast and solving mysteries was cool. When compared to other visual novels however I have to say that there are better titles out there for the PS4 and Vita. With that in mind I am awarding the game three stars. My first few playthroughs were enjoyable, but unlocking all fourteen endings was a bit of a chore. Unlike other VNs, which have branching storylines, Psycho-Pass’ narrative is more linear than a Final Fantasy XIII level. The choices you make influence what ending you get, a few key scenes and not a lot else. Replaying the game therefore became a ponderous exercise of skipping previously read dialogue until some new content popped up.
One neat thing about Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness is that you are in effect getting two games for the price of one. Hidden in the extras menu is a mini-game that awards points, which can be exchanged for bonus artwork. Said puzzler is pretty much Threes/2048, with the only difference being that the numbered tiles display chibi faces of the Psycho-Pass characters. As someone who missed out on the Threes craze it was nice to finally see why so many people find this tile merging brainteaser to be addictive. I doubt that the development team at Sirvo approves of their game being plagiarised in this manner, but its unlikely to harm their finances as the Apps store is already brimming with unsanctioned clones that you can download for Three… um I mean free.