Australian gamers disappointed because of We Happy Few’s ban can rejoice! The Australian Government’s Classification Board has lifted the ban on the upcoming indie survival and adventure game developed by Gearbox Software. This news comes after the Board’s decision to classify the game “RC (Refused Classification)” on 25th May 2018.
The latest report from the Classification Review Board released 3rd July 2018, has revealed that a “three-member panel of the Classification Review Board has unanimously determined that the computer game We Happy Few is classified R 18+ (Restricted) with the consumer advice ‘Fantasy violence and interactive drug use’.” The report goes on to say that in their opinion, the game “warrants an R 18+ classification because the interactive drug use is high in impact” and that “The overall impact of the classifiable elements in the computer game was no greater than high.”
This is no doubt a sigh of relief for Australian gamers looking forward to Gearbox’s new title, as the original media release from May indicated that the game received a ‘Refused Classification’ because the Board opined that it featured a system that rewarded players for taking drugs and incentivized this action:
Players have the option to conform with NPCs and take Joy pills when exploring the Village orParade District areas of the game. If a player has not taken Joy, NPCs become hostile towardsthe player if they perform behaviours including running, jumping and staring. An NPC character called the Doctor can detect when the player has not taken Joy and will subsequently raise an alarm. A player who takes Joy can reduce gameplay difficulty, therefore receiving an incentive by progressing through the game quickly. Although there are alternative methods to complete the game, gameplay requires the player to take Joy to progress.
This is, in fact, true. In the game, the player’s use of joy can greatly aid their efforts – ‘Joy Pills’ can be taken to avoid suspicion from NPCs (who are also jacked on the wonder-drug) who may attack the player if they detect that they are not one of them. This is merely one way of reducing NPC suspicion, however – with other methods including wearing the clothes that the population of each district of Wellington Wells wears (for example in wealthier districts, the player would be well-advised to wear wealthier-looking clothes).
It should be noted that this isn’t the first time the Australian Classification Board has gained widespread media attention. Another prominent example lies back in 2013 with Ubisoft’s South Park: The Stick of Truth which was banned for a period of time because of a controversial anal probe scene in the game, an “interactive animated sequence titled Alien Probing [which] features buttock-nude male characters, captured by aliens, repeatedly having an oversized, phallic probe thrust into their buttocks. The probe is repeatedly thrust in and out, mimicking sexual thrusting and accompanied by squelching sound effects.”