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.

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