Paranoia Happiness Is Mandatory Gameplay Preview – Gamescom 2019

During our visit to Gamescom 2019 we managed to get a glimpse of Cyanide Studios’ and Black Shamrock’s tactical RPG Paranoia Happiness is Mandatory gameplay.

Paranoia Happiness Is Mandatory was running on PC and boasting RTX ON features. It’s quite a weird game with a dystopian premise fused with a ton of dark humour. It releases on PC this October 3rd, with a console release planned for next year. So what is the game about?

The story goes something like this, Paranoia takes place in humanity’s last refuge called Alpha Complex. This facility comes controlled by the rather enigmatic Friend Computer whose rule is absolute. Any deviation or questioning of the status-quo means treason and then met with direct action which is where your team of characters comes in to play. Alpha Complex allows all of it inhabitants a pain-free existence, and as the title suggests, happiness is mandatory. However, as you would expect, all is not what it appears to be and things go wrong, traitors are abound and elements need investigating because someone, somewhere is plotting to take down the establishment.

Our time was limited to just a 30 minute presentation which for a game of this scope requires a little extra to if one is to understand what it aims to achieve. You control your clone character and choose team mates to conduct various investigations on the behest of Friend Computer. Sometimes it’s robots who have gone rogue, other times other clones. Interestingly, you have plentiful options to tinker with including equipment and various weapons. However, underlying the entire gameplay quirk which is based on table-top mechanics, any of your team mates can turn against you. This is dependant on your relationship with them but also the actions you take during missions. Obviously, if your decisions don’t toe the line your companions can view your character as treasonous and put you in negative standing with Friend Computer. However, your team mates can potentially work against you as well. It’s not all plain sailing and disagreements in direction does occur. However, death isn’t final for your character if things go awry. You are a clone and can dive-in again with fresher legs and an adjustment of your specialized skills.

Paranoia core mechanics look divided into three main areas dialogue, interactions and combat. The latter is self-explanatory but the dialogue is an interesting element which as mentioned comes into play with regards to your relationship with other characters. Certain missions will focus on this aspect rather than all out guns-a-blazing. Hacking and crafting are options as well with regards to interaction with the environment, so there’s lots to do here and different ways to play.

Combat is in real time but an option to pause and plan movements is available as well. It seems chaotic and what we were told cover is realistic rather than stat based. Expect intense battles against man or machine in hazardous environments.

In terms of progression, the game offers a colour coded system with your character starting out with red clearance. The deeper you dive into the rabbit-hole more areas open up as you gain new clearance levels. This is the reward for performing well for Friend Computer.

Paranoia Happiness is Mandatory is looking like an interesting game when it launches in the coming weeks. We really needed more time and some hands-on to get a proper impression of what it entailed though especially in terms of the player choices and how that affects other teammates. There is quite a bit of dialogue to read through to get a better understanding of what’s happening and so a 30 minute look at the game didn’t allow to fully explore the options. That said, from the demonstration the game looked polished and filled with neat ideas. So we’re looking forwards to the final release. A caveat for some gamers though, it’s an Epic Games Store exclusive for now. Take that as you will. Now check out some gameplay.

Written by: Rob Cram

Rob Cram has hundreds of video game reviews, thousands of articles under his belt with years of experience in gaming and tech. He aims to remain fair and free from publisher/developer influence. With his extensive knowledge, feels his gaming opinions are valid and worth sharing. Agreement with his views are entirely optional. He might have a bias towards cyberpunk.