Paranoia: Happiness is Mandatory – Review
Follow Genre: Classic RPG
Developer: Black Shamrock, Cyanide, Cyanide S.A.
Publisher: Bigben Interactive, Black Shamrock
Platforms: PS4, PC, Xbox One
Tested on: PC

Paranoia: Happiness is Mandatory – Review

Site Score
9.0
Good: Good gameplay, Nice setting, Snitches get stitches
Bad: You cannot trust anyone
User Score
10.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

In an ideal world, everyone lives in peace, but as long as there are humans, there will be problems. In Alpha Complex you work for Friend Computer and stop those who oppose the idyllic refuge. You are one of the lucky clones who get a job as a Troubleshooter and must solve the issues that arise when many beings live together in a large complex. Will you follow your leader step by step, or will you do well for others? Don’t be paranoid and remember happiness is mandatory.

Story

Your life in Alpha Complex starts with creating a template character. As real specimens are rare in this world, all the creatures in this utopia are clones from the original humans. Alpha Complex is the last idyllic refuge that is run by Friend Computer. It is very paranoid about getting betrayed and therefore treason is punished severely. While Friend Computer has a certain omnipotent presence over almost every area, there are still a few dead zones and this is where the underworld lives. Both worlds will blend in nicely depending on your play style. This will also influence the flow, if you obey Friend Computer, you will quickly rise in the ranks to become a respected Troubleshooter. However, if you decide to join the underworld, you will fight to revolt against the overseer and take over Alpha Complex yourself.

Graphics

The graphics in Paranoia: Happiness is Mandatory are lovely. The developers have created this dark atmosphere in a futuristic place from a top-down perspective. The lighting and attention to detail are very nicely done. You can read the text that is displayed pretty well and the HUD is easy yet effective to work with. The intro movie takes a wink to the 90s CRPG games such as Fallout by showing an intro movie in a lower frame-rate to give you the same impression as those games did. Because of the Sci-Fi setting, you will see lots of lasers flying around and these all look very colorful but also like they can do some serious damage. You won’t be spared from gore as fluids are spilled all over the place from drinks to goo and even a healthy amount of blood.

Sound

Aiding into creating immersion in the game is the very nice music. An ominous soundtrack will play while walking through the halls of the complex and it will become more intense while in combat. Some interactions will have some creative use of sound effects like a poisoned citizen that dies very loud or someone jumping on the train and the loud ‘whoosh’ it makes. While characters have no voiced lines, they do have some grunts or screams when getting hurt. Having voiced interactions with everyone would have been even cooler, just like in the old Fallout games, but sadly only Friend Computer is voiced. This does not hamper gameplay as you can enjoy the soundtrack in peace.

Gameplay

Paranoia: Happiness is Mandatory is a Roguelite Classic RPG (or CRPG) game in which you are the leader of a group of Troubleshooters. You are instructed by Friend Computer who has nearly a complete view over most parts of the complex, but there are a few dead zones where it has no sight and this is where the danger lurks. It all starts with your character’s template and from this original, clones will be created. As the cloning process isn’t perfect, there will be small alterations to the clone such as special abilities that are deemed ‘cool’ but are grounds for termination. Friend Computer keeps everyone on a very short leash and each small infraction will cause it to see you as a traitor and when that happens, you will be disposed of. This is where the Roguelite aspect of the title comes into play, if your clone sees early termination, there will be a next one to follow in your footsteps.  Skill points remain but you can allocate them to other perks to alter your build. There are three main trees to invest points in. These are Brain that makes talking your way out of situations easier, Programming for hacking and Combat to excel in harsh situations.

Your objective in Paranoia is to please the overseer and report any treason that is happening within the walls of the Alpha Complex. This is where you can go both ways; either be a goody-two-shoes and follow the directions, or secretly rebel and try not to be discovered. Here is where the first showmanship of discipline comes in, Friend Computer is a rock-hard dictator that does not allow for free speech or own thought, as this is considered treason and traitors must be disposed of. This is immediately noticed as your treason meter rises and when it is full, you will be hunted down. In order to lower it, you must confess your wrongdoings and answer the questions correctly in a confession booth. You can’t trust anyone as your team can turn into snitches and they will tell you on at debriefings. You will notice this as you sometimes have to do illegal things in order to progress, or when you say something that doesn’t sparkle with the rest. For this reason, you can write up a list of snitches and properly ‘dispose’ of them during a mission, or just don’t take them into your team when unlocking more members.

As a Troubleshooter, you must do the dirty jobs that others won’t do. The first quest is immediately a spicy one about finding a lost robot and help clearing out the basement. An R&D team has gone missing and you must find them. Basically you are the suicide squad and can be easily replaced by others. This first mission will teach you the basics of tactical combat and how to engage. After finishing this job, your next mission will be an investigation of a murder case. Your quests are very diverse and so you see that the game isn’t solely run and gun, and you cannot simply finish the game by only investing in one skill tree. Diversity is good and sometimes it’s not horrible to die in order to perfect your built. When doing your best you shall rise in the ranks and before you know it you will be promoted to a higher clearance.

The complex is divided into colors that correspond to clearance levels and stepping into a spot where you are not allowed is highly illegal and will result in swift punishment. When doing your job well, your clearance level will rise and you can explore more locations and have more responsibilities. However, if you decide to listen to the people and revolt, you will have some very interesting interactions and side-quests to unlock and play through.

Controlling the game is quite easy, as the game feels like playing a Classic RPG and even slightly like an RTS title. To make gameplay easier for lesser experienced gamers, you can stop the game in real-time and plan your movement more tactically. On some occasions you must fight your way out and the combat feels pretty decent, other times you can be more diplomatic and come to a solution with words.

Conclusion

Paranoia: Happiness is Mandatory is a very nicely made Classic RPG game that will remind you of the old-school titles like Fallout 1 and 2. The slightly vague story is brought to you depending on how you play the game and just like in the aforementioned old games your decision is impactful. When exploring and trying out all routes you will get a very diverse story, if you follow the glorious leader then it will be completely different than when you go the revolutionary route. The gameplay is good with easily understandable controls that allow to quickly learn the game, the ability to pause combat is really handy and makes combat very doable. The game creates an amazing atmosphere by combining the right graphics with the right sounds coupled to a very good soundtrack. Since the game is Roguelite it means that you don’t get a checkpoint or are able to load a last save, but rather create a new character with the unlocked things from the past. Get ready to sink some hours while exploring the deep and dark corners of the complex.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Paranoia: Happiness is Mandatory – Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
MC_JP
MC_JP


Never give up on a dream. It might be a long nightmare, but one day it will change into a beautiful reality - MC_JP 2014

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