We Happy Few
Developer/publisher Compulsion Games Format PC, Xbox One Release 2016
Right now, We Happy Few’s dystopian vision of a divided Britain falling into disrepair as a result of a mass hallucination hits a little too close to home. But despite its newfound topical potency, the game’s evocative blend of Brazil and
BioShock flavours remains a spellbinding proposition. And in Arthur, those ’60s period visuals are matched with a pleasingly worrisome protagonist who finds his worldview challenged when a traumatic memory about his brother, Percy, gives him pause enough to come off his state-prescribed dose of Joy.
The slick prologue sets up Arthur’s story with so much wit, charm and style, in fact, that it’s difficult not to be disappointed when, on escaping from your accusatory colleagues and the police, you emerge into a tile-based procedurally generated world. Much has been made of Compulsion’s effort to make its algorithms spit out convincing town layouts, but the grid of crumbling houses we encounter wears its underlying maths a little too obviously.
Compulsion is squirrelling away an uncommonly deep storyline in its Roguelike, though, with a large set of special tiles that deliver missions and side quests along the way. And while Arthur’s goal is to escape this particular nightmare, the studio plans to include two other playable protagonists. In the meantime, we’re on the lookout for some real-world Joy to tide us over.