WE HAPPY FEW
SOCIAL STEALTH IN A BRAVE NEW WORLD
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.