Amanita Design’s psychedelic horror experience Happy Game ($5.99) debuted on Nintendo Switch and PC platforms back in late 2021, and it finally made its way to iOS and Android last week. Unlike a few of Amanita Design’s recent new releases, Happy Game is a premium game, and not an Apple Arcade release. I love the developer’s games, and usually try to play them across different platforms over time. Since none of them overstay their welcome, it is easier to do, and replaying an amazing game like Botanicula never gets old.
Happy Game is a psychedelic horror experience that involves all sorts of disturbing and creepy characters in addition to blood, flashing lights, and puzzles. Just like Amanita Design’s Botanicula and Chuchel, the puzzles in Happy Game will either instantly click and pull you in further, or involve tapping all over the screen to try and progress. The way the developer’s design the puzzles, even the latter gives you good visual and audio feedback in most situations. Playing Happy Game like that makes it feel like a very horrific toy you’re playing with instead of you trying to make a little boy happy again while going through nightmares.
Expect to be tapping to move the little boy, dragging different things to complete puzzles, and more here. Once you finish a specific level, you can come back to it through the level select in the title screen. Each level has its own icon that is a nice throwback to either a character or a puzzle from that stage.
Visually, before watching any footage of the game, I was hoping that the signature Amanita Design charm would still be present despite the disturbing aesthetic. Thankfully, Happy Game feels like one of the best implementations of the developer’s take on interactions. This is elevated by the amazing audio design that carries through the music and sound effects. I wouldn’t listen to this score outside the game like I do with Machinarium or Botanicula, but it perfectly suits the visuals.
Having now played Happy Game on iPhone 11, iPad Pro (2020), and Nintendo Switch, all three versions are great visually and when it comes to feel. Amanita Design has implemented controller support for Switch, but it isn’t as nice as playing with touch controls. There is no controller support if you were curious about that on iOS, but having played Happy Game on Switch and iOS, it plays a lot better with touch controls. I would’ve liked to see some proper haptic feedback implemented though on supported iOS devices.
In my testing, I didn’t find iCloud save syncing supported in Happy Game. I’m not sure if this is not included or just an iCloud related issue that happens once in a while. Happy Game took me about an hour and a half to complete. Despite being a short game, I hope this can either be fixed or implemented in a future update.
Over the last few months, a lot of the ports of older games I thought would see premium releases on mobile have been launching on Netflix Games. Other original games that hit mobile are also launching either on Apple Arcade or Netflix Games. Happy Game is a rare premium standalone release from a developer that has games in subscription services on mobile being sold for a fraction of the cost on Switch and PC. This is the kind of game worth supporting if you enjoy horror experiences on mobile.
Happy Game is an essential for fans of Amanita Design’s games as long as you’re ok with disturbing and creepy images and characters. It has all the polish of the developer’s prior releases, but a completely new style that showcases how talented the developer is. Even with its short runtime, I have no regrets recommending Happy Game to any fans of horror and puzzle games who are up for trying something different.