Indie survival We Happy Few has reportedly been banned in Australia due to drug use.
The Australian Department of Communications and the Arts gave the game a “refused classicization” rating which means it’ll basically be illegal to distribute in Australia. The reason has to do with drug use, which is obvious if you’ve played the game. It takes place in an alternate timeline back in history and is based on the roles of denizens who take a fake drug called Joy that keeps them calm and relaxed in order to forget about WWII.
Players play as 3 different protagonists who decide to stop taking the drug and need to traverse the world as it really is rather than the illusion that Joy makes it. It’s also a part of the gameplay; if you don’t take Joy, it makes the game significantly more difficult because guards will catch you easily. Completing objectives also gets difficult as a result of that.
The game was banned because it’s possible to take Joy during the game. And thus, this is “drug use.” The report does acknowledge that drug use is optional and that there are “alternative methods to complete the game,” but it also notes that “gameplay requires the player to take Joy to progress,” which is doubly confusing. Australia has a rating classification which states that “drug use related to incentives and rewards is not permitted.”
Other titles that were banned include Outlast 2, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, and South Park: The Stick of Truth, which all got the ban hammer from Australia’s Classification Board. Whether or not developer Compulsion Games and publisher Gearbox will try to release a censored version of the game is still unknown, but it’ll likely be difficult given the game’s mechanics.
As for the rest of the world, We Happy Few will be rolling out in mid-2018. Players who have bought the game in Australia will likely receive a refund.