Gamestyle Game of the Year 2014: Jonny

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc

A mixture of interactive story and Scooby-Doo simulator, Trigger Happy Havoc follows the tale of fifteen students at the prestigious Hope’s Peak Academy, a private school for the students who are the zenith of their field. All is not as it seems, however – upon entering the academy, it is found that all exits from the academy are sealed, and the principal has been replaced with a stuffed bear. As if that wasn’t enough, one moment the students are joining the academy for the first time, the next they are being pitted against their fellow students in a Battle Royale-style death game.

Isolated from the outside world, the students begin to hear disturbing news about themselves, their past and what awaits past the main gate, and are offered the chance to see the truth. The price of freedom is simple – take the life of a fellow student, and don’t get found out. If caught, they are sentenced to a grim and grisly death; if not, they’ll walk free… but the others won’t be quite so lucky.

And so, it falls to you to solve the mystery of Hope’s Peak, traversing its claustrophobic and unpleasant hallways. Each day is a barrage of paranoia and fear, every interaction partly a glimpse into fraying minds trying to stay sane, and partly probing for answers, information… anything that might get you out of there. Alive, at least – because getting the wrong idea and making the wrong accusation will result in a premature trip to the glue factory.

Danganronpa’s atmosphere is what makes it really shine. Hope’s Peak feels dismal and unwelcoming; every window has an almost comedically-thick steel plate bolted over it, and exploration purports ill omens around every corner – making it from one end of the school to the other without incident offers a sense of genuine relief. At various times the students are given free time to relax and interact with one another – at first, in an attempt to humanise the bizarre situation they find themselves in, and later, post-murder, coming to terms with their own mortality.

I’ve made my own life difficult by choosing this as my game of the year. Danganronpa is one long murder mystery packed with twists and turns, which means that if I tell you all about how good specific moments in the game are… it’ll ruin them. So forgive my brevity and take my word for it. It’s lovely – but it’s a secret.