What I'm Playing - No. 49
Welcome back to another weekly wrap-up of the games I’ve been playing over the past week!
Be warned, minor spoilers may be contained within. Generally, I do try to keep things spoiler-free but this isn’t always possible/practical! If you want to totally avoid all potential spoilers so you can play these games yourself in a blind run, you shouldn’t continue reading! Click a title to skip to that section. Games contained within this post:
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (PC)
I started playing this game, the first in its series, and hoo boy I was not prepared for how deeply I would get pulled into this story!
So first and foremost, Danganronpa is a visual novel. I haven’t really played any visual novels before, so I was looking forward to getting sucked into the story. I went in without any elements spoiled for me. I think that’s extremely important for this game, and as a result I will strictly be avoiding plot spoilers in my write-ups for it! The basic setup of the story is this: Makoto Naegi is accepted into Hope’s Peak Academy. It’s a school for the best of the best, and anyone who graduates from it is set for life. However, he’s not the best of the best at anything. He’s been accepted due to winning a random lottery. Despite reservations about not belonging there among all the so-called “ultimate” students, he decides to attend.
He’s barely main it through the main entrance when he blacks out. Waking up in a classroom, he scrambles to make sense of what’s happened. The place he’s woken up looks like a school, but there’s thick metal sheets over the windows, security cameras everywhere, and an enormous vault door blocking the exit. He quickly meets the rest of his new class only to find the same thing happened to them. All of them blacked out inside the school, and woke up disoriented and confused.
Soon after, a strange announcement calls them to the gym. There, the grim nature of their situation becomes clear. A teddy bear like creature calling itself Monokuma appears and explains that they must all live in the school together until they die, and will be unable to leave. The 15 members of the class have been cut off from the rest of the world, with only each other for company. While Monokuma explains the rules they must follow, the class learns that there is one exception to not being able to leave: anyone who graduates will be allowed to leave, but in order to graduate, they must murder someone without being caught. Immediately, this causes tension among the group. Would anyone seriously consider murdering one of the others in order to escape…? This marks the end of the prologue…and the beginning of their imprisoned life.
The main gameplay loop goes through a few phases. There’s the Free Time days, where you choose to hang out with students and build up your friendship with them. This reminds me of Persona’s Social Link system a bit. As you grow closer to them, you learn more about them, filling in new pages on their Report Card, and your SP cap will increase, or you’ll learn a new Skill to use during the Class Trials.
The other half of the gameplay loop are Investigations and Class Trials. Inevitably, students end up getting murdered. Once that happens, you first gather clues by exploring the school, and after you’ve found all the relevant clues the Class Trial begins.
When the Class Trial begins, you may or may not have a good idea of how the murder took place. You’re in control of Makoto, and while he’s pretty observant and you’ll find a lot of clues, there are some things that he won’t pick up on, meaning you won’t have all the information. New information can come to light during a trial based on what another student found, or perhaps they’re trying to mislead the discussion to avoid being found out. All of this comes together to keep things very interesting, and make for some tense Class Trial debates. The gameplay itself during the class trial is split up into sections where you’ll rely on logic, using the clues you found to refute statements the other students make, and some small mini-games.
I think I’m nearing the end now, and it’s been quite a ride. The diverse cast of characters always keeps things interesting. The writing is top notch, and has subverted my expectations a number of times in wonderful ways. I’m really looking forward to finishing this game, but it’s definitely going to be bittersweet when it’s over!
Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)
I finally picked up this Switch essential, Super Mario Odyssey, and started playing it this week too!
Things begin with Mario confronting Bowser on his airship, trying to rescue the once-again-kidnapped Princess Peach. Bowser’s goal is to marry Peach this time, so he’s wearing a pretty fancy outfit. Anyway, Mario is promptly defeated, and his hat is destroyed in the process. Mario falls to the earth, and wakes up in a strange monochromatic hat village. Here he meets Cappy, who is part of some sort of ghost hat race. Bowser has also kidnapped Cappy’s sister, so he and Mario team up to pursue their common enemy. Taking the form of Mario’s hat and plopping himself atop Mario’s head, the strange duo set off on their adventure.
Mario can throw Cappy to damage enemies and crates, but more importantly, throwing Cappy at many kinds of enemies causes him to possess or Mario-ify them, dragging Mario into their body and putting them under your control! This process is called “Capturing,” and I’m certain there’s a deliberate cap pun there. The first time this happens there’s a very dramatic cutscene. It was quite amusing! Every time after that though you take control of the enemy instantly, without the cutscene.
Capturing enemies is vital to proceeding and collecting many of the game’s primary collectible, Power Moons. Unlike in previous 3D Mario games, collecting this primary type of collectible does not force you out of the world and back to a hub world. It works well, I don’t mind this change at all! It’s been a long time since I played a 3D Mario game, so I don’t know how the level design has changed to accommodate this gameplay change, but it’s been really fun and flowed really well so far, so I like it!
By collecting enough Power Moons, the ship Mario and Cappy find in the first world, The Odyssey (you see where the title of the game comes from now), gains more power, and you can advance to the next world to chase after Bowser.
I’m not very far, but the worlds so far are cool. Capturing enemies is a ton of fun, I mean just look at T-Rex Mario! I also really like how you can fast travel between any of the flag checkpoints you’ve captured in the current world at any time by opening your map. It streamlines things nicely, and should make collecting as many Power Moons as possible a very enjoyable experience!