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HappyFunland

HappyFunland

In a rundown and creepy amusement park, Conny has been running around, riding rides and getting a little bit scared in this VR title that he has had a surprising amount of fun with....

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Since Sony's first VR headset and with the purchase of the first model of Quest, I have been both an avid advocate of how fantastic the VR format can actually be, and one who has tried many experiences. However, it's hard to argue against the lack of more comprehensive titles in VR Another argument that almost always comes up is that many VR games feel like technology demos rather than actual gaming experiences. This means that they demonstrate how cool virtual reality can be rather than offering everything we want in terms of game mechanics, narrative and depth. All this is also hard to argue against because it is so often true. However, the lack of releases is by far the main reason why my PSVR2 has not been used as much as I had hoped for when it arrived here at home.

With all that in mind, and perhaps especially the fact that VR is largely a demonstration rather than something interactive, I started HappyFunland with the belief that it would be a lot of just that. It was partly justified, but also fortunately not only that and low expectations were quickly replaced by a joyful surprise that it was actually really fun.

HappyFunland

After a brief introduction where we meet a chatty character who wants us to put on a pair of headphones and a camera to document what we see during our trip to an abandoned amusement park, we jump aboard his little swamp boat. It quickly becomes clear what kind of experience this is trying to give me and I'd call it a bit of lightly digested horror. There are some "jump scares" that made me scream out loud. I hate such things but still managed to do relatively well and luckily survived. In many ways, HappyFunland is a walking simulator and there is the noticeable fact that it is a bit of a technology demo for VR. But at the same time, walking around in environments is something we do in "regular" games a lot too. This is actually one of the biggest strengths of VR as it in many ways feels like you are on location. In addition, the dilapidated, dirty and very strange amusement park is an incredibly fun environment to walk around in.

For it is precisely in relation to this that the first part of great surprise and delight creeps in. Although it takes place almost exclusively in an amusement park, the environments and the experience manage to be fantastically varied. This is achieved by throwing in some simple puzzles, and a dose of crazy mascots in the form of robots running amok and acting as enemies. There are lots of different themed areas that you visit and of course there are different attractions that you jump on board. Everything happens at a rapid pace in fantastic surroundings and the design is top notch. The visuals are also enhanced by lots of details and it looks very nice overall, despite the state of the park. However, the visuals are dragged down a bit by the fact that things in the distance are a bit blurred, which means that, for example, some attractions where you ride around and look at things are graphically worse when it comes to what is a bit away and some effects are also very flat.

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It is above all in the design and richness of detail that I think they succeed best. Nothing feels forgotten. There are small souvenir shops, eateries, rest areas and everything else. It's packed with everything you can imagine a park should have and it really helps to make this incredibly atmospheric. Just such a simple thing as when you ride an attraction and can see its emergency exits means that these, along with the fact that it really feels like you're riding them, are absolutely fantastic features. Sure, you don't get that feeling in your stomach that gravity provides in real life, but otherwise it feels most times like actually riding a real attraction, which of course is a great result. In addition, there is also a huge wonderful undertone of dark humour and the scary elements I experienced as self-critical mes regarding horror as fully manageable. It's a park where advertisements for cigarettes and alcohol exist, a park that definitely feels more for adults than children and I can't give enough praise to how well done the park itself is as a place for all the madness.

In addition to exploring the park and riding the attractions, the game consists of very simple little puzzles, and encounters where the park's mechanical inhabitants have run amok and attack you and you have to smash them with the tools you can find. The fights are really just a pure flailing, but they add at least a little bit of a threat. This is also where I go back to the point that a lot of what comes to VR doesn't really feel like full games. HappyFunland suffers a bit from that too, because the interactive and something a little deeper is missing. As an experience, it's incredibly good, among the best I've run for the format in a long time. But there is still something missing to develop the actual game mechanics and engage me more than I just think it's a fun journey through the park. It's a bit one-track minded and while you can find some sort of collectibles, there's nothing beyond that.

HappyFunland
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One of the more noticeable problems also lies in the technology. Whilst this looks great, much better than I expected and is extremely well designed, it also suffers from a classic VR problem. There is an extreme amount of clipping, probably more than I have experienced in a title in a very long time. Just such a thing as the golf club being able to be lowered through the ground at the courses is a first inkling and the problems are often noticeable. There are a lot of objects that you just walk straight through, sometimes you turn round and find yourself inside a wall and the immersion is broken numerous times. This is a shame, because if the technology here had been better, it would have felt more polished and even though I won't go so far as to say that the rating is affected or that it is noticeably worse, it is a part of the technology that does not work very well.

Furthermore, it is a bit of a shame that it is so very limited to the settings. It is not possible to change the height of the character, which means that the perspective can be a bit silly sometimes and the only way to move forward is to steer the character forward with the joystick. In other words, there is no form of teleportation for those who prefer it in VR, which I know is a must for many. However, it is possible to choose the degree you can turn even if everyone is with a notch and I missed a seamless movement which I myself prefer.

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Another thing that is a bit sad is that it is also a rather short trip. It takes a few hours and then you are through the experience. Now, however, this is sold significantly cheaper than many other games and despite the short playing time, there is still so much here to experience in the form of several themed areas, things to look at, ride and be fascinated by. If I judge it on the premise that you get a really cool and fun trip into the virtual reality, this is in many ways absolutely fantastic, but as a game it is rather something that stops at being good.

On most points, HappyFunland does what I want from such an experience and should definitely be checked out if you miss sitting with your VR helmet on your head. Something that at least I have done and fortunately, what was displayed in front of me was one of the funniest and craziest virtual worlds I have visited in a while.

08 Gamereactor UK
8 / 10
+
Wonderful environments, the attractions are really fun, makes very good use of the strengths of the VR format, lovely dark humour and just the right amount of scary.
-
A lot of clipping occurs, visually fuzzy in places, a little too short.
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's score

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HappyFunland

REVIEW. Written by Conny Andersson

In a rundown and creepy amusement park, Conny has been running around, riding rides and getting a little bit scared in this VR title that he has had a surprising amount of fun with....



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