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