Oh boy, this one is something.
Looking back over Amanita Designs’ games over the years it kind of seems like they were building up to this point. Their trademark style of cute, kinda strange and surreal artwork and mechanics is the hallmark of a certain kind of horror. Like, I always had this slight sense of discomfort when playing through their games and whilst I didn’t really get into CHUCHEL it seems like that was the first step they were taking into madness, with the second one dropping them right into an ocean of insanity. That is what brings us Happy Game, a game that will tell you right off the bat that it is not what its namesake is. No instead it’s a psychological horror thriller where unknown creatures of the void torture a child in their sleep.
Yeah, you read that right. This game has you playing a young child who, for reasons unknown, is being tormented by powers from beyond our world who will use his most treasured possessions in order to get him to play along. You’ll stumble your way through all sorts of horrors as your character makes all sorts of whimpering, crying and generally “I AM NOT OK” kinds of noises. Worse still the game’s mechanics are direct reflections of all those old point and click and educational games of yesteryear, meaning you yourself are likely going to be feeling much like the child when you’re trying to navigate your way through this world of horror.
Which is then starkly contrasted by the game’s visuals which, as gruesome as they are most of the time, are beautifully rendered in bring colours (the favourite of which is, of course, BLOOD RED). I took no less than 12 screenshots over the course of my short playthrough and, whilst I admit they’re exceptional, I also don’t want to look upon the horrors again as they’re just so freaking unsettling. Truly this seems to be the end game of the developers over at Amanita Designs: to lure us in with cuteness, get accustomed to their games before they can unleash their true horrors upon us.
The story itself is pretty straightforward: you’re a kid and you want your thing, but the demons are taking away your thing, so you’re going to follow it in order to get it back. Demons then torment you along the way for the thrill of it, mostly through showing you a vast array of eldritch horrors that blend the real and demonic together in a beautifully terrifying collage of nope. I’m not sure the devs are looking to impart any particular meaning on you through the telling of this story or anything, I think it’s more that they just had a bunch of straight up craziness they wanted to get out in the public and the result is this.
Of course I know the question you’re wanting to ask: is it fun? Oh yeah definitely in parts, especially when you’re leading a bunch of overweight bunnies to their demise at the hands of a larger, more overweight bunny who wants nothing more than to eat them. Although I think “enjoy” is the wrong way to look at game like this. It exists, it’s something you can experience and then you can move on with your life with all these images in your subconscious just waiting to jump out when you least want them to. Isn’t that something?
Happy Game is truly something right out of an insane mind who wants nothing more than to unleash a new brand of nightmares upon the world. If that’s your cup of tea then off you trot, I won’t stop you. But for anyone else? I dunno man…I just don’t know….
Rating: “FUCK ME”/10
Happy Game is available on PC and Nintendo Switch for an irresponsibly low amount. Total time spent questioning my sanity was about 2.2 hours and 54% of the “achievements”, not including the psychotic breaks I endured, achieved.