Knox’s Commandments Part 1

I was at work the other day and Virtue’s Last Reward popped into my head. It’s a game I haven’t played in a while, but is still a very good game. The main thing that I thought of were the files you get for clearing a room. They vary from small pieces of lore, to entomology, to real life examples and the background on many things in the game. One particular file always stood out to me: the one about Knox’s Commandments.

Knox’s Commandments come from the mind of mystery author Ronald Knox. It is a list of 10 rules that all examples of good detective fiction should follow. I remember thinking how interesting it is for that to be in a game about solving a mystery, even if it’s just a neat little tidbit. I also remember wanting to check how games stack up with each other in regards to it. And that’s exactly what I’ll do.

This is part one, there are more games I’d like to examine (all the Zero Escape games, Steins;Gate, Heavy Rain to name a few) but I only feel comfortable rating these first 4 games because they’re the ones most recent in my mind. I could be wrong about something here or there but ultimately I think this should be pretty accurate, if a little open to interpretation.

How It Works

Essentially I took each of the 10 commandments and checked how each game compared against it. For this first part the four games are Danganronpa 1, Danganronpa 2, Danganronpa V3, and Persona 4 Golden. All stories are centered around a murder mystery and would fit in well thematically with detective fiction. Each game will get a score of 0-10 for each commandment, for a maximum score of 100. It should go without saying but heavy spoilers ahead.

The List

 

1.The Criminal Must Be Mentioned Early On

DR: 10, Junko Enoshima is seen just as early as any other student. Granted it’s not really Junko at that point, but my point stands.

DR2: 8, The mastermind is Izuru Kamakura, who is technically present at the opening, and is actually the main character, Hajime Hinata. I give it an 8 because the mastermind is technically right there, just before several life changes that lead to it.

DRV3: 7, To me it depends on the definition of mastermind. Tsumugi Shirogane was there all along, but to be fair she was just an employee of Team Danganronpa, the true masterminds. Then again Team Danganronpa was technically in the opening credits.

P4G: 7, This is a case similar to V3. The Killer, Tohru Adachi, was in the story very early on, but he is just a cog for the real “mastermind” Ameno-Sagiri, who was kinda dropped on us at the last minute. Which again was not even the true final boss, the honor of which belonged to Izanami. Honestly I’m making myself confused here, but I think a 7 is appropriate.

2.All Supernatural or Preternatural Agencies Are Ruled Out

DR: 8, First I think it’s important to distinguish Supernatural and Preternatural. The way I see it, Supernatural goes against everything that is believed, things like ghosts and whatnot. Whereas Preternatural are things that go against logic, things like 100 coin flips in a row landing heads. While not impossible, at least mathematically, it is pretty much so. Ergo, I’m giving Danganronpa an 8. Nothing is very supernatural, and I feel it’s actually pretty rooted save for the teenage girl destroying the world thing. Could happen, but pretty preternatural.

DR2: 4, At one point a student is shot with a bazooka and returns as a robot. Kinda out of nowhere too…

DRV3: 6, One of the students is the Ultimate Robot. A bit less extreme than Danganronpa 2, but still a bit of a stretch of the imagination.

P4G: 0, Persona 4 plays almost entirely on the supernatural, with the dungeon crawling segments taking place in a world inside the TV.

3.No More Than One Secret Passage or Room May Exist

DR: 9, There are a handful of inaccessible rooms (at least until the last chapter) but none of them are hidden, just locked. The only hidden area I can think of off the top of my head is the hatch in the Monokuma control room.

DR2: 10, The only thing I’d even partially consider is Hope’s Peak Academy. And that is also more locked and inaccessible than hidden.

DRV3: 7, The Mastermind’s hidden passage exists between the girl’s bathroom, and their lair (which is itself a hidden room, though it is discovered fairly quickly). Likewise Kokichi’s talent development room is hidden until the school starts to break down.

P4G: 10, I’d probably consider the TV world one big secret room, but other than that nothing stands out as applicable.

4.No Unknown Poisons May Be Used, Nor Any Appliance That Would Need A Long Scientific Explanation

DR: 9, The poison used in chapter 4 was mentioned beforehand and had very clear labeling. Monokuma doesn’t really require a long scientific explanation. Really the only thing even close to questionable would be the air purifier so I’ll give it a 9.

DR2: 7, The poison in chapter 5 has a very clear label, rendering it not unknown. However the crux of the 7 is those final reveals, mainly the Neo World Program and the Hope Resoration Plan, neither of which is super absurd, but still require some explanation.

DRV3: 8, The poison in chapter 4 was clearly labeled, and more importantly not even used, it was meant to be a red herring. However with the Ultimate Robot, Exisals, and their own version of the Neo World Program, I’d say that V3 needs some explanations too, though the appliances in question aren’t as convoluted as the ones in DR2.

P4G: 9, Only because the fog seems to have a poison-like effect on people. It’s not the killer of those who go to the other world, that’d be the shadows themselves, but it’s still the most mysterious “poison” in any of the four games.

5.No One With Extrasensory Perception or Similar Powers Can Appear

DR: 6, There’s Sayaka, who claims to be psychic when guessing what Makoto is thinking, but that has no bearing on the plot or cases whatsoever. Kyoko acts befitting of the Ultimate Detective, which means very acute perception.

DR2: 5, Mainly on the back of Nagito’s luck. It doesn’t come up much, but when it does it changes the story quite easily. It is very relevant.

DRV3: 6, Again we have an Ultimate Detective, and I’ll give him the same result as Kyoko got.

P4G: 5, I mean it’s not exactly extrasensory perception, but the main characters all receive a huge power that is pretty explainable and very useful in the case.

6.No Accident Should Help The Detective, Nor Should He Have An Inexplainable Intuition Which Later Proves Correct

DR: 4, The biggest example would be Alter Ego saving Makoto from execution. Definitely helps him, but technically isn’t an accident, I still choose to count it.

DR2: 10, I can’t seem to recall anything that fits.

DRV3: 9, As I’m replaying chapter 5 now, it’s glaring how much Shuichi is almost certain Kaito isn’t the victim almost immediately. His reasoning isn’t awful, but it’s still quite the intuition, which later proves to be correct.

P4G: 10, The biggest help the protag gets is the power of persona, which wasn’t an accident so much as it was a calculated move by Izanami.

7.The Detective Must Not Commit The Crime

DR: 10, Makoto is one of only a few students that did nothing wrong, in my opinion. So yeah, this one is an easy 10. He is framed by the mastermind for chapter 5’s murder, but we know he’s not the culprit and that he’s being played.

DR2: 6, As previously mentioned, the Detective himself doesn’t technically commit the crime, though a version of him does. Danganronpa 2 is kinda weird to explain in such short bursts.

DRV3: 3, The game starts with a separate protagonist, but it turns out she actually committed the first murder. Her successor never murders again, and it’s not like she was the mastermind, so only a 3.

P4G: 9, MC doesn’t commit the crime. The 9 is because in the Golden edition there is an option ending to become the criminal’s accomplice.

8.The Detective Must Declare Any Clues He Discovers

DR: 5, The major rift about halfway through the game between Makoto and Kyoko comes when Makoto refuses to share the clue he found (Sakura and Monokuma fighting, wherein Monokuma outs her as the traitor). Otherwise he’s pretty good about it though.

DR2: 10, Can’t remember Hajime hiding anything.

DRV3: 9, That’s kinda Shuichi’s whole arc: needing to reveal the truth no matter what. I’ll knock him down to a 9 though since he was so tentative to reveal the clues that pointed to Kaede in chapter 1.

P4G: 8, Again with the new ending you have the option of not revealing what you’ve found that would implicate Adachi.

9.The “Watson” (More or less sidekick, though the Commandments refer to them as “The stupid friend”) Must Conceal Nothing From the Reader

DR: 6, Kyoko concealing her talent, even after she learns it, as well as concealing the fact that the headmaster was her father come to mind.

DR2: 4, Nagito finds out all the students are former Remnants of Despair and keeps it from everyone.

DRV3: 7, Maki kept her true talent hidden. Likewise Rantaro kept his Survior Perk information hidden as well.

P4G: 10, The investigation team really doesn’t keep anything from the player.

10.Twins and Doubles Must Not Appear Unannounced

DR: 0, The main twist involves a twin so yeah, not even close.

DR2: 3, Likewise the twist involves doubles, kinda. Like I said, confusing.

DRV3: 10, No doubles.

P4G: 10, No doubles.

 

Conclusion

The final tally is as follows

Danganronpa: 67

Danganronpa 2: 67

Danganronpa V3: 72

Persona 4 Golden: 78

 

According to Knox’s Commandments, Persona 4 Golden is the best written mystery of the group. Will it continue to be after part 2 or will another game take the title?

Korekiyo Shinguji is a MILF

Danganronpa V3 spoilers ahead!

Kiyo

Korekiyo Shinguji is a MILF. And by that, of course, I mean a Mistake I’d Like to Fix, which now that I see it on the screen seems a bit harsh. After all I think he’s pretty far from a “mistake”. His design is great, one of the best in the Danganronpa series in my opinion; likewise I think he has one of the more interesting talents as well. Finally Todd Haberkorn really knocked it out of the park with his voice, especially during his breakdown in trial 3. Korekiyo was one of my favorite characters pre-release, and while I still really like him I think he could have been so much better.

THE MISTAKE

First off let’s take a look at the man of the hour. I’d ask you to point out all the creepy and unsettling parts but you presumably only have ten fingers. Of course I’m exaggerating but there are several parts of his design that definitely give off an unsettling vibe.

korekiyo.jpg

An important part of human interaction is reading the other person: checking their body language and facial expressions to see how they are feeling in regards to the things you say and do. I’ll gloss over the first part and go right on to facial expressions.  I don’t have to tell you that a lot of the expression on the face comes from the mouth or the eyes. Our friend Korekiyo has both of these important features downplayed. Most obvious is his mask, which spends almost all the game covering his mouth, the only time it isn’t present is when he’s “possessed” in the chapter 3 trial. Looking at this picture one can see his eyes are a good deal smaller than the other students’ as well. As a matter of fact, I measured the eyes of all the students (very crudely, mind you) and Korekiyo’s eye area of 56 pixels (14×6) is 28% less than second place Shuichi (and this is with Shuichi’s hat sprite where most of his eye is obscured) and 33% less than third place Kirumi.

Of course the physical attributes are but one side of things, but they compliment the creepiness of his general demeanor throughout the game as well. Outside of the third trial Korekiyo speaks in an eerily calm voice for the majority of the game, at odds with the situation the students have found themselves in and even contrasting with the strange things he has been known to say. And I’m not the only one who thinks so, countless times through the early game characters call him out on his “creepiness”. A few examples:

 

Kaede Akamatsu, during the prologue: “This guy looks like a creep… and it turns out he is one too.”

 

Korekiyo Shinguji: “My appearance and actions thus far suggest I am someone who would commit a murder.”

Kaede Akamatsu, internally: “At least he’s self aware.”

 

Tenko Chabashira: “With how creepy you are I’m sure that person didn’t want your love!”

 

Himiko Yumeno: “You really are screwed up…”

Miu Iruma: “Screwed up from head to toe! Even through your clothes I can tell!”

 

Put these together and you have a character that almost seems deliberately designed to be almost impossible to read. And that’s not getting into the weird things he spouts about “Humanity’s Beauty”.

So we’ve got a creepy looking guy who is hard to read and he’s a brutal killer, what’s wrong? The problem, to me, is how obvious a killer he is set up to be. He looks creepy, he talks creepy, he acts creepy, and he’s the double killer this go around. And I’m clearly not the only one to think so. In Japan he had one of the lowest survival chance predictions (each sticker represents a vote, Korekiyo is next to Tsumugi). Likewise in /r/danganronpa’s pre-release poll Korekiyo was voted as the most likely killer, with 209 votes (out of 301, listed by 69.4% of respondents) earning 10% more votes than 2nd place Tsumugi.

Therein lies the problem, at least to me: predictability. Now one of the main draws of Danganronpa to me is uncertainty. Who will snap and be a killer? Why will they kill? Will my favorites make it to the end? When you have someone who is so strongly assumed to fit a mold and they do so like a key it isn’t very rewarding. Similarly his motive or trial don’t stand out all that much either. Kiyo killed for a fairly selfish reason (maybe in his mind it wasn’t as bad, but I digress) and that’s about it. I know I’m not the first one to draw parallels to Celeste but they stand in that regard.

The Fix

So we’ve got the problem: Kiyo screamed murderer pre-release and we got just that with him, no twist or anything to really set him apart despite how obvious he was for the role. Now unlike many other places online I’m not just going to sit here and complain, I want to offer a solution. But since any solution would switch some deaths it’s important that I lay down some ground rules for myself.

For starters I don’t want to change the overarching story. I feel that’s too far, so chapter 6 would have to have the same “killer” and “victim”. Likewise chapters 1 and 5 are both important and therefore won’t be meddled with. Finally Miu must survive until at least chapter 4, for the whole VR chapter to work, since I wouldn’t want a whole rewrite of a chapter, and Maki must survive until 5, since she’s kinda the catalyst for the whole murder in that chapter.

Now my main idea for what would happen lies in the fact that Monokuma reveals that in the event of two murderers only the first one counts yet that information was never used. Keeping that in mind I wanted to see how the group would cope with living with someone who killed a classmate yet was not executed, and to keep with the theme of Danganronpa I just wanted some good ol’ despair.

First off I would keep chapter 2 the same, partially because I quite like Kirumi’s execution and partially for simplicity’s sake.  So that means that I’m keeping the first two and a half chapters exactly the same. Then chapter 3 continues very similarly, but with slightly less of Tenko prior to the first body discovery. Instead of her coming to Shuichi and Maki to talk Angie out of the ritual, the two decide to have Gonta get them in to talk with Angie to achieve the same goal. It shouldn’t be too big a stretch, Gonta has been shown many times to be easily manipulated. Angie again denies them, but this time Gonta has betrayed the council (though I’m sure it wouldn’t be as bad as Tenko’s betrayal, since Gonta, again, is easily manipulated). The rest of the chapter would go the same until the seance, wherein Tenko doesn’t offer to replace Himiko as the spirit medium, and Himiko is killed during the ritual. Afterwards it plays out the same again, until Monokuma is asked about the possibility of two culprits. Instead of an answer he just handwaives it “Puhuhuhu we’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we”.

At the trial it is revealed that Tenko saw how dangerous the council was and only joined to protect Himiko. However she saw that the problems were less the council themselves and more Angie’s way of doing things. Even worse, in her mind, was that every day saw Himiko sway closer to Angie’s side. Therefore she decided to kill Angie, knowing full well she’d be executed, in order to protect Himiko. Korekiyo killed Himiko during the séance, same as he killed Tenko during the game.  Voting time would happen twice as each killer is voted on separately. Finally the execution involves both characters as we still don’t know what happens if there are two blackeneds. I picture Korekiyo and Tenko each on a rollercoaster car, on parallel tracks. After mirrored movements the two end up facing each other with a huge weight above them. It cuts back and forth between their eyes until a weight drops and executes Tenko.

Continuing to chapter 4, the group is now on edge due to Korekiyo murdering a classmate, which would be interesting to see how the remaining students handle it. For chapter 4 I’d see Miu’s plan actually work, but instead of Kokichi she has her sights on Korekiyo, and the plan isn’t foiled. Now Kokichi will have to do some more work to convinve the others he’s the mastermind for chapter 5 to follow the same setup, but I think it’s worth it for two reasons.

1) Gonta’s Survival: This plan would make Gonta survivor 3 instead of Himiko, joining Shuichi and Maki. The main reason I’d like to see his survival ties back in to the whole theme of expectations. Gonta made the main series games 3/3 in killing off the muscle-y character in chapter 4. While there is not necessarily anything wrong with a formula for the Killing Games (chapter 3 double murder, first victim is someone who seemed very important) essentially telling your audience that a character will bite it, and exactly when gets rid of a lot of mystery, which is important in these games. Having Gonta survive would mean that you couldn’t pencil in the muscle character as a chapter 4 death.

2) It Causes the Most Despair: Now each installment has their own theme, but the central theme to the Danganronpa series is certainly Hope & Despair. There’s a good amount of despair in V3 already, but I think that this would set it over the top. Tenko kills specifically for Himiko’s sake and she is murdered shortly afterwards. Not only that but her last sight is Himiko’s killer as she is executed yet he walks free. Similarly, Miu is executed for doing what everyone was no doubt hoping someone would do.

I know it’s not perfect, but I feel like it would add layers of depth to pretty much everyone involved, except Himiko. And it would turn the guy who everyone expects to be a killer and ends up being that, into a little more than we got, while still keeping his role similar, as well as quashing the muscle bound chapter 4 death.