Remember citizen, success is mandatory. Failure is treason. Happiness is also Mandatory.
Paranoia: Happiness is Mandatory is an interesting blend of ideas in the vein of a top down third person isometric RPG. Being first in the line of a series of clones, as you don’t remember anything like you apparently should, you’re told to listen up, do as your told and walk within the lines. Anything outside these lines is considered treason and if you take it too far? Well they’ll just kill you and move onto the next clone in line. As long as you still have clones left to come back as.
Paranoia is bonkers. But in a good way. Being named team lead, you and three other trouble shooters will have to go out on missions in order to do, well, whatever you’re told. With my journey starting off on a literal cleanup mission where the previous crew were all left in a bloody mess, I had to essentially escort a super large version of Mo from Wall-E to clean the floor and reassure it that I would keep it safe from harm. Yeah. Even the robots are paranoid, and for good reason as once we got back I went from a mere 15% traitorous to a whopping 50%. I didn’t like my teammates. I didn’t like them one bit.
That said, this is exactly where Paranoia shines as you REALLY need to be careful about what you do and how you do it. Being sent on missions from the master control unit, you get to choose three people to tag along. Each of these people have their own specialties that can be either extremely useful or quite useless depending on the situation. Having a happiness officer for example is pretty useless in a firefight, but when investigating multiple murders and questioning witnesses and suspects, it comes in handy as they’ll bring a person’s happiness to a level where they can actually be reasoned with.
Where you need to be careful with the above however is that, the only person “on your side”, is you. How you talk to other people, what you do while out on a mission, all of it is being watched by those with you and they will gladly throw you under the proverbial bus if it makes them look good. There are chances to maybe get them to go along with it, but that will entirely depend on your clone’s reasoning abilities. More often than not? They’ll tell and then you’ll have to decide, do you go for once more mission? Call it quits and terminate your clone for a new one? Or, do you walk outside of the lines of your current access restrictions and have the termination force sent after for you an epic firefight? Choice is yours!
There are a lot of things that are told to your early enough but they may not make sense right away. One of these is the fact that I was told that I had a red access level clearance. This literally meant that I could only ever walk inside of the red lines. One step outside and my treason level rose by seven or eight percent. Once you’ve crossed it’ll won’t keep going up so you may as well try to do whatever once you’re over the line, but if you keep crossing by poking your toe repeatedly over? 100% comes very fast. So adding that to whatever your teammates say about you, it really doesn’t take long before you’re facing termination in one way or the other. Thankfully though, you have a storage box.
This box is perhaps one of your only saving graces. For every mission, whether it’s for cleanup, investigation or interrogation, you receive a voucher for the vending machine that gives you a gun, some ammo, and some sort of happiness which acts as health boosters. Once the mission is over and it’s been reported to the central computer however, those fancy everything including everything that you picked up while on mission gets taken away. So before any of that happens, you have a box, with limited space, to stash things into. Health items, guns, ammo, the “basic” stuff that you’ll need if you’re going to find yourself in a firefight for having hit 100% treason. It keeps between clones as well, because let’s be honest, it’s YOUR box.
Paranoia isn’t perfect though. It has some issues that come out to play both in terms of gameplay and performance. There are a lot of little things that may not be covered, or be covered properly making you wonder exactly that you are supposed to do next. This happened when I mopped the floors with everyone that tried to attack me but couldn’t open a damned door because I didn’t know how to hack it. I had done what was needed to hack it but I couldn’t see what was needed to actually perform the operation. Turns out, I just had to switch tabs inside of the vending machine… yeah that was a bit of a facepalm, but if you don’t know? You’ll be looking for a while.
The other thing is that there’s at least one game breaking bug that I hit and it basically stopped any and all progression. Paranoia, to keep you on your toes, is autosaved after anything you do. So when I went to bed and then my mission status didn’t update past the, go to bed to start the next day, that was it. I tried re-loading, killing off my clone and spawning a new one. Nothing. I had to restart from scratch but at least that time was faster because I knew what I was doing. Or at least knew how to do what I should be doing.