By Josh Speer / June 23rd, 2019
One of the games I didn’t actually get hands-on time with at E3 2019 was Paranoia: Happiness is Mandatory. To be fair, I was offered the option to play the demo myself, but given my relative lack of experience with mouse and keyboard setups, I decided to watch someone more qualified than me go through the basics. I also didn’t know before experiencing the game that it was actually based on a tabletop RPG, but I quickly learned a few things about the game.
Paranoia: Happiness is Mandatory takes place in a dystopian world, in a place called Alpha Complex, where all humans are under the rule of an unflinching and despotic AI called Friend Computer. They don’t know all that, mind you, just that you’re supposed to do what you’re told. Sure, cleanliness is mandated, as is happiness and acceptance, but that’s nothing a pill can’t fix! In fact, the humans in the world of Paranoia are given many happy pills, which is about the point in the demo I started to get suspicious that something was deeply wrong. Apparently as you play, you’re given the choice to go with the program or rebel, and face the consequences.
You control a squad of other characters slated with hunting down “traitors”, and while you can give basic orders and control the flow of battle, don’t make the mistake of thinking your friends are trustworthy. In a dystopian world like this, many would rather find upward mobility at the expense of others. So your teammates very well may blackmail you or turn you in to the AI that is in control, depending on your actions. It’s twisted for sure, but the game is also full of dark humor, which helps balance things out.
While Paranoia: Happiness is Mandatory may not be my sort of game, I can see it appealing to a lot of gamers, especially those who swear by PC gaming. Though it is also coming to XBOX 1 and PS4 sometime in 2019.
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