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Paranoia: Happiness Is Mandatory takes us troubleshooting in 2019

Contrary to Disney propaganda, Alpha Complex is the happiest place on Earth. You now this because the Computer says so, and disagreeing with Friend Computer is treason. Paranoia: Happiness Is Mandatory is a long-awaited videogame adaptation of the darkly comic tabletop RPG, developed by Black Shamrock and Cyanide, and out later this year. Players lead a squad of elite (not really) Troubleshooters, the most expendable of all red-clearance clone citizens in Alpha Complex, a dystopian underground city. There’s trouble? You shoot it. With a smile. See the debut trailer below.

We’ve known that a PC adaptation of Paranoia was on its way since last March, but today we get our first peek at the game’s world. We do know that it starts out as any good game of Paranoia does: A handful of red-clearance clones (nearly the lowest of the low) are assigned a mission of great importance by The Computer, the unhinged AI that runs the city. As Troubleshooters, you’re tasked with hunting terrorists, mutants and secret societies, and if this is anything like the tabletop game, you’re already a mutant and a member of a secret society. The terrorist part is likely, too.

There might be a bit less backstabbing than your average tabletop game of Paranoia, as you get to create and control all four members of your squad. Combat will be pausable real-time, and death (and re-cloning) will be part of character progression, although the exact mechanics of this haven’t been revealed yet. There will apparently be sixteen skills to specialise in, but so far all we know is that there’s tactical laser-fights, death is inevitable and that you’ll be leading a four-character party. We clearly don’t have the required clearance for more info, and asking for more is treason.

I’ve always been of the opinion that Paranoia at the tabletop is best played as Sealab 2021: The Game. Story arcs? Character development? Who needs those when you can have a self-contained comedy of escalating idiocy and errors that results in some cataclysmic failure that wipes the party. Bonus points if the horrible explosion that claims your lives happens during your debriefing under the watchful eye of The Computer. While I doubt that level of concentrated chaos will be possible in Happiness Is Mandatory, I am hoping for plenty of opportunities to screw everything up.

Paranoia: Happiness Is Mandatory is due out later this year. You can find it here on Steam. It’s to be published by Bigben Interactive.

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Dominic Tarason

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