We Happy Few

We few, we happy few, we band of down­ers, writes An­drew White­head

Hyper - - EDITORIAL -

With one of the most in­ter­est­ing art styles I’ve seen in a videogame for a long time, We Happy Few is a dystopian sur­vival game set in a retro-fu­tur­is­tic English village called Welling­ton Wells. You start the game work­ing for the Min­istry of Truth as a redac­tor, cen­sor­ing the news and re­mov­ing un­happy sto­ries from his­tory, all while pop­ping the emo­tion­sup­press­ing drug Joy.

But, of course, things take a turn for the worst when you fi­nally go off your meds and be­gin to see the world for what it is. Af­ter be­ing la­belled a “downer” and es­cap­ing the Min­istry you emerge in the derelict town above and re­solve to find a way off this bizarre is­land.

The town of Welling­ton Wells is pro­ce­du­rally gen­er­ated and changes with each play-through, so re­plays are highly en­cour­aged. Also, We Happy Few uses per­madeath and fea­tures no save sys­tem, mean­ing you’ll need to think two steps ahead at all times if you want to sur­vive, let alone es­cape. You’re not to­tally help­less, though, and you can de­fend with melee weapons, but from what I’ve seen of the game in ac­tion, fight­ing shouldn’t be your first op­tion.

“It was a re­ally in­ter­est­ing chal­lenge to in­tro­duce story in a rich fashion inside the world,” said Com­pul­sion Games Founder Guil­laume Provost, “all while not re­ally know­ing where things were laid out: not hold­ing you on a leash through­out the whole ex­pe­ri­ence.” What helps We Happy Few rise about the of­ten ill-de­fined sto­ry­driven games that have flooded the mar­ket lately is its em­pha­sis on player agency. You’re not just lis­ten­ing to moody di­a­logue or col­lect­ing bor­ing jour­nals. This isn’t a story be­ing told to you, it’s a story hap­pen­ing around you and be­cause of you. You make choices and those choices mat­ter. You can even take the Joy pill at the be­gin­ning of the game if you want to.

The fi­nal re­lease date for We Happy Few isn’t set in stone yet, but it is com­ing to Xbox Game Preview and Steam Early Ac­cess first. Play­ers will be able to play through the game’s in­tro­duc­tory area, the town and end on a cliffhanger while the de­vel­op­ers con­tinue to work on the game’s lore and the main char­ac­ter’s own per­sonal back­story.

“The main piece of nar­ra­tive, the char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment arc, we’re not re­leas­ing dur­ing the game’s preview pro­gram,” said Provost. “[The game preview has] a num­ber of unique lo­ca­tions inside the world that will tell you about how the world got to be the way that it is. That’s some­thing our Kick­starter back­ers re­ally wanted us to get into.” Com­pul­sion Games has done ev­ery­thing right to en­sure We Happy Few doesn’t get bogged down in the high-con­cept hy­per­bole that of­ten drags down nar­ra­tive-driven games. Both its game el­e­ments and story po­ten­tial are clearly de­fined enough to be in­trigu­ing but not over-ex­plained so as to spoil what’s com­ing down the line. And did you see those Dalek look­ing bins in the trailer? We Happy Few is eas­ily one of my most an­tic­i­pated games of the year. Joy!

Po­lice bru­tal­ity is def­i­nitely on the cards in We Happy Few

We don't care if it's fresh, we're still not go­ing to eat it

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