HappyFunland – The Review

April 27, 2024 ·

When it comes to vacations, where do you and your family go? Maybe someplace that is warm or maybe you prefer the cold? Maybe it’s a place you go to year after year and yet, it never gets old, but you can still call it your home away from home. Just think of all the memories you have made over the years and can look back at those pictures and videos whenever you feel a little homesick. But what would you do, if the place you loved, the place you called your home had its soul removed and replaced with darkness? Do you think you could still visit or go back home or would it now be the place of nightmares for years to come? It is interesting when you think about the possibilities to have things turned upside down. But does the developer, Spectral Illusions show us the job or should I say, the vacation of a lifetime? Let’s find out with HappyFunland for the PlayStation VR2.

HappyFunland is a VR horror experience that combines immersive cinematic storytelling with dramatic interactive play. Ride the thrilling rides, solve puzzles, and defend yourself against enemy automaton robots. Can you make it home alive? No lines, no waiting, No escape! So before you enter this forgotten theme park, there are a few things that you should be aware of. First, feel free to play sitting or standing as you can play either way. If you are going to stand, make sure you at least have room and if you are playing while sitting, make sure you have your favorite place to sit. Either way, know your surroundings. Second, There are some jumpscares, so be prepared as you never know when they may come about. Third, make sure those Sense controllers are fully charged. You don’t want to be stuck in an area and have things come and try to unalive you because you forgot to charge them, do you? Fourth, I am not going to spoil anything for anyone. Finally, have some fun. With all that said, let’s continue…

Now, before we dive into everything, let’s talk about what HappyFunland is. Yes, HappyFunland is a theme park that well, has been shut down due to an accident that cannot be discussed because waivers would need to be signed. And trust me, by not signing so said waviers, well, it’s not pretty. But to help bring you up to speed, HappyFunland was owned by one, Mort Grisly, which is the home of Randy Rodent located in Florida. Now, I know what you might be thinking, and yes, in Florida, there is also Disney World, which is the home of Mickey Mouse. HappyFunland is abandoned, while Disney World is not. So you get the idea thus far and these comparisons will come up more than once.

When the game first starts, you are met with a warning about how the game contains instances of forced camera rotation, which may or may not cause motion sickness and about making sure your arms don’t get damaged in case you swing your arms. The warning message has a place for you to click if you are sure or not. I haven’t tried to click on no yet, but without a second thought, I selected yes. Before even taking the admit one ticket, I had to admire the rollercoaster track that surrounded me as I watched the rollercoaster vehicle move along. Then, by grabbing the ticket, I had to enter a queue to move around while watching the different monitors talk about HappyFunland. One of the first things I came across was how to move. At the time of this review, there was only click turning. There has been an update since then to include smooth turning as the default movement.

As I moved through the queue with no other people, I came to a box, where I put the wanted notice for an able-bodied person to assist in videotaping an abandoned theme park with the requirements being that I had legs, be reliable, and work cheap. Bonus points if not easily spooked. This was it, the break I was looking for. That’s when the buggy came for me to get on the ride and learn by a floating paper, that “Firearms, Alcohol, & Tobacco Kingpin opens funpark”. So, it seems there is more to Mort Grisly than meets the eye. Well, it seems that some robotic malfunction was to blame for some, if not, all of what happened to this theme park or a rodent cult. Either way, something was not right, but I needed this job. But this is when I met Larry, the one who put the ad in the paper and gave me more detail about what I would be doing.

We now know what the job details are, it’s up to the exploration of the park to see what can be seen. As I made my way to the front gates, there was something about the water and the tram system that seemed to have better days. One thing I learned is not to rush through the park, well at least not yet, but enjoy the beauty that is here. Well, except for those ticket animatronics’ eyes as they will look into your soul. I am glad I have a flashlight and a park map, which looks familiar as if a kingdom of magic was the focus point here. I also noticed that within the park, are items that could be used for other purposes than protection. So this needs to be kept in mind when moving through the park, always have something in your hand.

Something else to notice is the miniature golf courses throughout. These are used to open up different sections of the park. But keep in mind that at the starting point for each of these courses are unlimited clubs you can hold on to even if you make the put into the hole. As I made my way under the corridor, posters of attractions were on the wall, but then, the gates slammed closed. Also, being on the lookout for the orange figures that are scattered throughout the park and can be hidden anywhere is a great way to keep the minds of others away from what may be out to get you. Not only are the orange figures throughout, but tape recorders as well that help with the story. There are also times when entering a gift shop has its rewards as you can smash whatever you want to add to the dismay of the park especially if the name you are looking for is not on the mini license plates display.

There are the animatronics that trying to unalive you and, of course, hit them, if you can with whatever you can, including your hands. One tip, they don’t like light. So if you happen to find a camera, feel free to take pics, but keep in mind, that the camera does have its limits. You will be unalived, but the great thing is you start where your unearthly demise once was. This can be a tricky situation as if you are unalived while there is a mob of animatronics, you better either learn how to run or fight like there is no tomorrow. Take notice of the name tags they are wearing as you can always blame them for the time you are having. There are save spots in the form of photo booths, so if you see one, take a selfie, it just may save your life.

Now, a theme park would not be, well, a theme park without rides and HappyFunland does have some that you can ride as well as some that you will need to make your way through without trying to be hit by the ride. If you have visited Disney World, you might notice some similarities between the two parks. HappyFunland has its version of Walt Disney Present with The Mort Grisly Story in 4D, It’s a Small World with It’s a Happy Little Grisly World, and Pirates of the Caribbean with the interactive shooting ride of Marauders of the Tropic Isles to its version of The Haunted Mansion.

Let’s talk about the graphics and sound. From the start of the game to the multiple endings, the flip side of happiness is exactly what it set out to be and that is this eerie feel and look of abandonment that is just waiting to be explored. The colorful, neon-lit environments are easy on the eyes with details of the overall presence to the animations of the animatronics that make you feel like you’re there when you add to the resolution of the PlayStation VR2 and become even more eye candy when you add in the HonsVR lenses.

The sound is going to be very important to a game like HappyFunland as it is important that everything is heard clearly from the creaks to the sounds of the rides. The audio engineers have done a great job tuning the sound to what it is. And when you pair this with a head like the Pulse Elite Wireless Headset, your ears are going to have a good time.

There are some things that I would love to see. At first, I was going to mention additional movement options such as smooth turning, but this was added with the most recent update. With that being said, I would love to see a crouch button added. There are those players who cannot bend over and touch the ground due to health and medical issues, so having a dedicated crouch button would be helpful along with a way to grab items without having to grab for them as an option Second, it would be nice to move handles down instead of just with a motion. Third, attention to some of the physics, such as the mini golf. There were times when I would hit the ball and it would either bounce all over the place or move so quickly that it would come back to the starting point. It just seemed a little more challenging than it needed to be. Fourth would be additional interactive rides. Riding Marauders of the Tropic Isles was a fun shooting gallery that I wish the real Pirate of the Carribean ride had. There are sections of additional areas where it would be fun to see how the HappyFunland universe could incorporate other attractions and rides from parks like Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios along with parks from Universal Studios.

HappyFunland provides an alternative to the parks that many may be used to but with fun and interesting twists. It allows us to see things in a traditional magical way and allows us to enter its own reflection of happiness and magic. We often take for granted what we experience, assuming that what was once there will always be there. Sometimes change is necessary for success, but too much change can lead us to see the reflection of what once was into a reflection of ourselves that we may not accept. And don’t we all want to change for the better?

HappyFunland is out now for PlayStation VR2 digitally on the PlayStation Store and the physical HappyFunland Souvenir Edition on the Perp Games Store or a retailer near you and is also available on Steam VR. A review code was provided.

To learn more about Spectral Illusions, please visit their site, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, follow them on Instagram, and subscribe to their YouTube channel.

To learn more about Perp Games, please visit their site, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, follow them on Instagram, and subscribe to their YouTube channel.

In case you missed the trailer, please enjoy. Until next time, I have to find some collectibles I missed and ride some rides.

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