You wake up in an un­der­ground bunker. The world around you is strange. The bunker is mostly in ru­ins aside from a bunk bed, a work ta­ble, a lad­der lead­ing to the sur­face and a ra­dio. The ra­dio is on, and from it comes the voice of Un­cle Jack, the per­pet­u­ally cheer­ful face of Welling­ton Wells, al­ways on the air­waves to re­mind the pop­u­la­tion to take their happy pills and to be on the watch for Down­ers, those dis­si­dent cit­i­zens not con­tent to be turned into an obe­di­ent and un­think­ing zom­bie via the medium of Joy, a syn­thetic hap­pi­ness drug. You are a Downer. You want to es­cape the con­fines of Welling­ton Wells. You want to be free but to achieve that most heart­felt of de­sires you must hide it. You must hide any aber­rant be­hav­iour, mask­ing your true self be­hind as smile and a wave, do­ing ev­ery­thing you can to ap­pear as one of the mind­less masses you loathe, all the while try­ing to gather the re­sources and in­tel­li­gence needed to get out. You need ra­tions and weapons and equip­ment. How do you steal what you need to get by with­out arous­ing sus­pi­cion and how do you deal with any­one who might catch you?

The first time you play We Happy Few it’s un­likely you’ll sur­vive more than a few minute. You’ll most likely get too close to another downer driven mad by the re­al­i­ties of the world and be beaten to death, or per­haps you’ll

sur­vive a few min­utes

longer only to be spot­ted by the Welling­ton Wells po­lice force and beaten to death. Or beaten to death by some­one you’re try­ing to rob. You might even starve or de­hy­drate. Each death is a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in what not to do the next time you wake up in the bunker and the world is pro­ce­du­rally gen­er­ated to en­sure that you have to sneak through a new path to free­dom. In essence, We Happy Few is a Rogue-like stealth game with the per­madeath and pro­ce­du­rally gen­er­ated lev­els of the for­mer style and the con­stant ten­sion of the lat­ter. The stealth is not the tra­di­tional sneak­ing kind ei­ther. Sneak­ing around or act­ing in any way that doesn’t re­flect the nor­mal be­hav­iour of the pas­sive cit­i­zenry of Welling­ton Wells is an aber­ra­tion and more likely to call at­ten­tion to you than keep you hid­den. It’s so­cial stealth, hid­ing by blend­ing into the rhythm of the city.

The back­story to We Happy Few is in­trigu­ing. It takes place in an al­ter­nate timeline in which Ger­many suc­cess­fully in­vaded and oc­cu­pied Bri­tain. It’s now 1966 and Eng­land is in ru­ins, as is much of Welling­ton Wells. Dur­ing the war, the “Wellies”, as the peo­ple of the city call them­selves did a “Very Bad Thing” to drive out the Ger­mans and re­sorted to chem­istry to as­suage the feel­ing of guilt they had af­ter­wards. The ar­ti­fi­cial hap­pi­ness drug Joy was the re­sult. We’re look­ing for­ward to see­ing if we can es­cape the grip of Welling­ton Wells and dis­cover ex­actly what the “Very Bad Thing” was when the game is re­leased later this year.

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