- "When life annoys, pop a Joy!"
- — one of Arthur's lines when taking Joy.
Joy, as a psychoactive drug, induces happiness and euphoria, making the user perceive the world to be much more enjoyable than it really is.
People under the influence of Joy are called Wellies, and anyone who refuses to take their Joy are called Downers. It goes against social acceptability, as well as the law, for citizens to be off their Joy.
Downers who are found to not be on their Joy are immediately targeted and is either killed by the Wellies, or chased out into the Garden District to live amongst Wastrels; people who cannot take Joy at all.
Joy is generally consumed in the form of a pill, with the shape of an edible capsule. Each capsule is color-coded depending on its 'flavour', with one side being lighter while the other side is darker, with the exception of Coconut.
In addition to the pill form, Joy is also available in a liquid and gaseous form.
The primary purpose of Joy is to elicit happiness and pleasure by chemical means while repressing bad memories in the process. Though it also makes everything appear more colorful and vibrant, as an example, the sky will appear bright blue with a lovely double rainbow visible.
As well as this, sounds that are normally unpleasant become amusing. Old Ladies will sound like they're singing instead of screaming, the bobby whistle will sound like a part horn, all NPCs laugh when they get hit, and the music will play at their regular speed instead of being slowed down.
Joy induces amnesia, both retrograde and anterograde. This prevents Wellies from remembering whatever memories may be plaguing their minds, even the mildly inconvenient ones.
It is suggested in-game that Joy makes one's pupils "teeny-tiny" which implies that the drug has opiate-like effects, the Memory Loss effects that come after taking too much Joy may indicate the presence of benzodiazepines and dissociatives.
Joy might be a single pharmaceutical chemical, or a polydrug; a combination of several different drugs. It is very likely that each 'flavour' of Joy has a different chemical compound, as Wastrels have had negative reactions to one specific flavour of Joy. However, even taking one bad Joy completely ruins all other flavours, meaning Wastrels cannot simply change to a different flavour just to become Wellies again.
If someone takes too much Joy, the psychoactive effects of the drug are amplified, causing the user's worldview to become even more distorted, making them happy to the point of ecstasy.
This causes them to develop so severe an amnesia that they cannot carry out most basic everyday tasks, hence the player cannot lockpick things, craft items, wield weapons, or attack at all.
In-game, if the player overdoses on Joy, the sky will be full of curved rainbows and flower motifs while the world will become almost cartoonishly colorful and vibrant, bordering on the comical. The voices of NPCs will be high pitched and the music will play at a rapid pace.
Though many users of Joy claims that it's never too dangerous to use too much Joy, it's often quickly proven that the claim is false. Since Joy induces amnesia, it can cause the user to forget important things, such as where they live or what they were supposed to be doing.
When entering a Memory Loss episode, all light will be in a bright red hue while the shadows are strikingly dark. The sky will be brown with thin, red tendrils contorting above in the skies. Everyone's eyes will glow a bright red and their voices will be distorted, the player also draws double suspicion from Wellies.
While it doesn't last very long and resets to 0% as soon as it's over, it's still not an ideal situation to be put in off guard.
Once the positive effect wears off and the high dissipates, the user will suffer from strong withdrawal symptoms, resulting in making them sad, depressed and perceive everything in a much more darker and unpleasant way.
Joy withdrawal makes the user see everything as colorless, dark, dreary and gloomy while all sounds become distorted and begin to sound menacing. There have been cases where the withdrawal symptoms have become severe enough for the user to commit suicide. However, the withdrawal symptoms will wear off over time, although the length of withdrawal time varies depending on how high the Joy dose was.
As the user takes more and more Joy, the chemicals in it begin to accumulate in their system, making them more receptive and sensitive to Joy, amplifying the effects of the drug. This, however, also has the unpleasant side-effect of causing the user to gradually develop an addiction to Joy, which makes the withdrawal symptoms even worse.
"Bad batches" of defective Joy (Joy that has been manufactured improperly) have been known to cause users to become very groggy, erratic and elicit severe changes to the user's brain chemistry; preventing them from ever taking Joy ever again.
In the event that they do take Joy, the user suffers paranoid delusions, vomiting, seizures, and in severe cases, death. At other times, it causes the user to become resistant to Joy, or even completely immune to it, diminishing or even completely eliminating its normal effects.
In 1943, during World War II, Germany successfully invaded and occupied England. Shortly after, the Germans forced the city of Wellington Wells to commit the "Very Bad Thing", by forcing them to hand over all of their children under the age of 13 to be sent to Germany.
Joy was created after the citizens of Wellington Wells could no longer bear the anguish and guilt from having been forced to do the "Very Bad Thing" during the Occupation, desperate to forget the whole event and be happy again.
According to Wellington Wells' Archive, production of Joy began in 1953 and eventually, the entirety of Wellington Wells became more or less completely addicted to the drug, with the population keeping themselves at a permanent high, lest they go into withdrawal and remember all of the bad and sad things from the past.
This extreme demand for Joy forced Haworth Labs to ramp up the production of the drug which only served to exacerbate the Wellies' addiction to the drug, raising the demand even higher, forcing Haworth Labs to increase production again, further worsening the addition. As a result of this vicious cycle, the increased Joy consumption soon began to have severe detrimental effects on Wellington Wells.
Due to Joy-induced memory loss gradually eroding people's ability to work, this ultimately led to the collapse of the city's food production and the gradual deterioration of the city's power supply system, both of which begun to cause further damage in the form of an ever-worsening food shortage, an increasing number of blackouts and power shortages due to the deteriorating power grid and after some time, all trade with the outside world stopped as well, due to the citizens of Wellington Wells being too severely affected by Joy to be able to manufacture anything for export.
As the situation began to worsen, the government of Wellington Wells, too drugged-up to be able to think rationally, decided that it would be better to have everyone forget about everything bad and stay happy, with any objections being suppressed with Joy, and thus the production of the drug was increased ever higher still.
However, this extreme production quota meant that Haworth Labs would end up exhausting all of the available raw materials needed for the production of Joy by the mid-1960s.
To address the problem, Haworth Labs decided to start producing Joy using substitute materials sourced from the city itself, with each successfull compound turning into a new 'flavour'. However, during the creation of Coconut Joy, Dr. Verloc experimented with Strawberry Joy's formula, resulting in defective substitutes being created alongside the perfectly functional ones.
This resulted in the general quality of the drug to deteriorate, resulting in the occasional creation a "bad batches" containing both the defective substitute Joys which, as stated before, rendered those taking it unable to take Joy at all, turning them into Wastrels.
In time, the Wastrel population of the Garden District began to rise at an alarming pace, with new Wastrels emerging every day.
By 1964, the quality of Joy is in rapid decline as the defective substitute Joy is making up an ever-larger percentage of the total Joy production, causing more and more people to become unable to take Joy and end up getting chased out of Hamlyn Village.
While this is happening, Haworth Labs have been dumping out the defective batches of Joy as chemical waste straight into the water, contaminating it. This has led to the creation of a Histoplasma Mushrooms, which are mutant mushrooms that have been created by the contaminated water, resulting in an outbreak of a rabies-like plague that ravages in the Garden District, spreading to the other districts at an alarming rate.
The food shortage is now rapidly approaching famine levels, which, along with the deteriorating power grid and the plague outbreak, means that Wellington Wells is now teetering on the brink of total collapse. Yet the heavy Joy usage prevents most Wellies from realising this.
Anyone who actually does realise the terrible reality of the situation and tries to tell the truth to anyone willing to listen is taken for a Downer, ending up either getting chased out into the Garden District, get shot full of Joy by a Joy Doctor (and thus forgetting everything), or being murdered by the Wellies.
There are three different main flavors of Joy: Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry. In addition to this, there is a new flavor called Coconut that is being developed by Anton Verloc.
It should be noted that while there are different flavours, they are not given freely by choice and most of the citizen will often only use one flavour of the given Joy Pills. It can also be assumed that they don't taste like what the're named, given by Arthur's quote "I used to love chocolate [...] but what did it taste like?"
In addition to those three, there also exists a fourth flavor of Joy that is known as Blackberry, which is stronger than regular Joy, but does not induce amnesia. Because Blackberry is a stronger version of Joy, it has much more severe withdrawal symptoms, as people who go off Blackberry Joy become violent and hostile to everything and everyone around them. This is shown at the start of Act II when Spud Murphy breaks into Sally's house, knocks her unconscious and trashes her house in a desperate search for Blackberry.
If the player ever takes Joy from a Mood Booth, they do not have a choice of which flavor to take; the character will always take Strawberry.
List Of Flavors (Extrapolated from the "How To Be Happy" Guide):
- Rainbow: A full-bodied bouquet of aromas. Reminiscent of a meadow after a warm rain. Suitable for all ages.
- Strawberry: Has the fruity aroma of fresh strawberries, with a slight tang on the tongue. Great for fruit-lovers and melancholics.
- Chocolate: The delectable, rich flavor of chocolate, and the euphoria of Joy. The best of both worlds all wrapped up into one delicious brown pill.
- Vanilla: Wondrous Joy, Creamy Vanilla, imagine the possibilities and happiness that could be in your life with vanilla flavoured Joy!
- Blackberry: A special version of Joy that is used by constables, doctors and government officials. Blackberry Joy will remove unhappiness while allowing public officials to keep a clear head.
- Coconut: To the surprise of many, coconuts are not native to Great Britain. However, Haworth Labs is hoping to create a synthetic version of this tropical treat. Ideal for those Wellies who are nostalgic for the hotter climates of the empire.
- "Tea": Haworth Labs was originally tasked with creating a tea-flavoured Joy pill, but experienced serious difficulty in getting it to work. Happily, the Executive Committee devised the brilliant solution to put liquid Joy in the municipal water supply. That way, whenever one brews a pot of tea, they can enjoy both the medicinal effects of Joy as well a hot beverage.
- Sunshine: Essentially a "counterfeit" version of Joy that makes the user appear to all others as if they were high on Joy without actually making them be it and thus it doesn't have any of the drug's effect. Only a rotten downer would ever need something like that.
- Oblivion: A miraculous and hard to come by little black pill. As we all know, sadly, no flavor of Joy can erase all memories. Oblivion was intended to be the exception.
Joy Pills can be found and taken by the player in all three acts, which help them to lower suspicion by not activating Downer Detectors and making Doctors passive. Joy Pills can be found in Joy dispensers at "Mood Booths" located all around Hamlyn Village, as well as found randomly in buildings or looted from Wellies' bodies.
There's rarely any time during the game where the player is required to take Joy in order to accomplish specific tasks. In fact, the player can go through the entire game without ever taking Joy, unless they're playing the story mode as Arthur Hastings.
When playing as Arthur, the first Joy he takes is when he rehabilitates himself in order to be allowed entry into Hamlyn Village again, the player is also taught how Joy works when this happens. The second time is when Arthur is forcefully injected with a test version of Coconut Joy while infiltrating the Wellington Wells Health Institute.
- When Joy was first announced and released to the public in 1953, taking the drug was optional, thus, Happiness truly was a choice.
- At several points in the campaign, it is hinted at that Joy may be an advanced version of a drug used by the Germans that occupied Wellington Wells. (Some of the letters in the rooms off the passage to the White Constable's office in Haworth Labs mention this.)
- This could be a reference to "Pervitin" (Methamphetamine) used by the German army during WWII in order to increase performance, concentration, and self-esteem of the soldiers as well as to lower feelings of anxiety.
- In the early-access builds, if the player took enough Joy to completely fill up the Joy meter, "everything would be fine and they wouldn't be a Downer anymore", triggering an instant game over.
- It is hinted in one of Sally Boyle's memories, titled "Rue", that Joy is a contraceptive, or birth control.
- This explains why there hasn't been a baby in Wellington Wells in over 15 years, despite many citizens indulging in sexual intercourse.
- As evidenced by dialogue heard in the military camp on Ravensholm, boiling water will cause Joy to break down, which might explain why Haworth Labs was unable to create a Tea-flavoured Joy pill
- This also explains why the player can drink Tea despite Hamlyn's water being laced with Joy.
- According to Anton Verloc, the ingredients used when synthesizing Joy is "bleach, whiskey and saltpeter."
- Although, Verloc mentions this "recipe" while trying to dismiss Arthur, and thus this can be interpreted as a "get-out-of-this-place" joke.
- Sometimes, attacking a Bobby while on Joy has a chance of him moaning in pleasure rather than laughing, This is even more odd considering every Bobby typically reacts in pain when the player isn't on Joy.
- If the player takes Joy during the prologue, then all of the events in the story will never take place and the game will end right there, with Arthur Hastings continuing his life as usual and the screen switches over to the credits.
- It is possible that Joy took inspiration from the drug of the same name found in LISA: The Painful RPG, a game made by Dingaling Productions. Though it's very likely this was a coincidence.