Whenever I hear someone talking about the bizarre brilliance of the Danganronpa games [official site] I'm tempted to stick my fingers in my ears and run as far away as possible. The only current English language release is on the PlayStation Vita, a device just below pocket spiraliser on the list of things I'm likely to buy at any point in the near future, but the first game in the series is coming to Steam next month. Hurrah! Part visual novel, part crime scene investigation, the game is about an elite academy in which the only way to survive is to murder a fellow student, cover your tracks and escape justice.
While I could do without the voiceovers (I rarely enjoy voiceovers and the cute-but-sadistic squeakiness is like fingernails on the chalkboard of my brain), I very much like the Phoenix Wright by way of Suda51 vibe.
"Hope's Peak Academy is home to Japan's best and brightest high school students—the beacons of hope for the future. But that hope suddenly dies when Makoto Naegi and his classmates find themselves imprisoned in the school, cut off from the outside world and subject to the whims of a strange, murderous little bear named Monokuma. He pits the students against each other, promising freedom to anyone who can murder a fellow classmate and get away with it."
Hopefully the dark humour and grim possibilities of the setup will be bolstered by decent investigative work. As in Phoenix Wright, you'll be collecting clues and cross-examining suspects and witnessing to figure out what happened. But the stakes are higher:
"Mock Trial: The nefarious Monokuma serves as judge, jury, and executioner as you engage in deadly wordplay, going back and forth with suspects, dissecting their statements and firing their words back at them to expose their lies!
"Popularity Contest: Sway classmates to your side in each investigation, squeezing information from them to figure out who did it. And when you do, turn up the heat in a variety of timing and reflex-based game systems to uncover the truth and save your skin!"
I spotted rumours late last week that Danganronpa would be coming to PC sometime this year. It'll actually be here next month, although only the first game in the series has been confirmed. There is already one sequel and one spin-off on Vita, and a third title in the main series is due later this year. I hope for three things:
1) That I actually enjoy Trigger Happy Havoc as much as the premise suggests I might.
2) That the sequels arrive sooner rather than later.
3) That I can switch to Japanese voices.
That is all.