Before I start this review I would like to point out one thing, apparently Japan has 2 different definitions for games that we consider “visual novels”: 1) A visual novel is a narration with very few interactive elements and 2) an adventure game which is a narration that incorporates problem solving or other types of game play. So, a Visual Novel is more of an interactive book, kind of like “choose your story” and an “adventure game” is a little more like an actual game (think Danganronpa or games by Talltale games).
With that being said, Psycho Pass: Mandatory Happiness is a visual novel that takes place during the first 8 episodes of the Psycho Pass anime (great anime by the way, highly recommend it). In this game, you take the perspective of one of two new characters: Inspector Nadeshiko, an amnesiac who acts a lot like a robot, and an Enforcer named Takuma, who is searching for his lover. Their individual stories are interesting but I won’t spoil them here.
The overarching story of Mandatory Happiness follows Unit 1 as they solve cases involving the antagonist Alpha, a hacker who is hell bent on bringing happiness to people no matter the cost. He does illegal things to bring happiness to the person he is trying to make happy. The scenarios portrayed had me wondering; what is truly right in these situations?
Is there even a right answer? Overall, the only element of the game that really stands out is, of course, the story.
Overall, this is a hard title to recommend to anybody who hasn’t seen the anime or doesn’t like reading. You will spend most of your time with this game pressing the x button and reading, seldom making some choices that, in the end, doesn’t really affect the story. The effects of the choices your character makes are minimal. Personally, I loved the anime and I loved reading this story. I think I would love Mandatory Happiness more if it was just an animated movie. If you liked the anime and would like to see more from the world of Psycho Pass, definitely pick this up. Let me know if you have tried it or will try it!