Developed by Montreal based Compulsion Games and Kickstarter funded, We Happy Few has made it out of early access and to retail. Available on both Xbox One and PlayStation 4, this action-adventure game takes place following an alternative version of the events of World War II.
Based around 60’s British culture, you goal is to escape Wellington Wells. This dehumanizing society controls its inhabitants by forcing them to take Joy, a hallucinogenic drug. With three strong narrative based stories and gameplay that features elements of stealth and survival; Can We Happy Few stand out from other games in the genre? Let’s find out!
We Happy Few Details
A crumbling dystopia
We Happy Few takes place in 1964 in the fictional British town of Wellington Wells. In this alternative timeline, the UK is left to battle the German forces by themselves. After eventually loosing the battle, the entire country is overtaken and invaded by the Nazis.
However, during occupation, the citizens of Wellington Wells do a “Very Bad Thing” that causes the Nazis to leave. And, interestingly enough they take British children along with them. While we don’t know all the details of what was done, we do know that most people in Wellington Wells have no memory of their past and the history of their country.
A drug called “Joy” has been invented to help them forget about the “Very Bad Thing”. Although “Joy” makes you happy, it also makes you lose your memory. You start out assuming the role of Arthur Hastings, who works at the censorship office.
Just like everyone else, you are forced to take your daily dose of “Joy”. After all, anyone caught not taking their Joy is expelled from the city. After deciding one day not take your daily dose of the drug, you decide to leave the city and set out to find your long lost brother. On your journey you’ll also assume the roles of a chemist Sally Boyle and Ollie Starkey, a former soldier of the British army.
A wide variety of gameplay mechanics
We Happy Few draws its gameplay mechanics from several different genres. There are elements of stealth, hand to hand combat, and survival that you will need to master in order to be successful. For example, something as simple as your clothes play a role in determining if you will be successful or not. To avoid being spotted by others, you’ll have to wear clothes that will allow you to fit in and not stand out. This means in the countryside you’ll have to wear ripped and torn clothes, while in the city you’ll wear a proper suit.
Additionally, you’ll have to manage your health, hunger, sleep and thirst. These are all represented by bars at the top of the screen. If one of these bars is in the red, it means you need to tend to your character’s specific need. You’ll find things like food and water during your travels that you take and use to restore your health. You can craft items in the game as well, such as bandages and other healing potions from the items you collect.
There is a skill tree in which you acquire points for completing missions. Here you can essentially upgrade your stats to make yourself more powerful or stealthy. Although you can certainly take the fight to your enemies, I highly recommend trying to do so. You’ll either be out numbered, or severely under powered against your enemies. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
A rich and varied world
We Happy Few is powered by the Unreal 4 Engine and thus creates a world full of colour and joy when needed. The countryside is a dab and dreary place, while cities contain brightly coloured streets and sidewalks. The game has a styled art, which suits it well. And, while the game’s visuals are not too taxing, I did notice some performance problems here and there upon playing the game on my Xbox One X.
Additionally, I encountered some NPCs who would get stuck in tables, chairs or fences. Luckily, these don’t take away from gameplay as I only encountered these issues a dozen or so times while playing. Voice acting is well done and music that occurs in the game is appropriate for the time period.
Does We Happy Few stand out from other games in the genre?
We Happy Few is quite possibly one of the most unique games I’ve played in recent memory. Compulsion Games has succeeded in making a game that stands out in its genre by creating a unique and interesting universe along with successfully combing gameplay elements from other genres. And, although there are some bugs here and there, overall We Happy Few delivers a solid experience.
If you are looking for a game with unique characters, original environments and a wide variety of gameplay mechanics, you’ll be grinning from ear to ear with We Happy Few.
+ Unique and varied environments
+ Great combination of gameplay mechanics
+ Interesting world to explore and interact with
– Some bugs
– Loading times at certain points can be long
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF WE HAPPY FEW
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 3.5/5
Overall Rating 3.6/5 (72%)
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Purchase We Happy Few Deluxe Edition Digital Download for Xbox One