A game which features a dystopian society or is based on an alternate reality is often the kind of game that tickles my fancy. The recently released action-adventure game, We Happy Few, by Compulsion Games, happens to include both features, which of course, piqued my interest.
We Happy Few first originated as a kickstarter game, whose full release suffered from a few issues in Australia and New Zealand due to difficulties acquiring a classification rating for the title. The game is set during the 1960s in the fictional British city of Wellington Wells, a city that is on the brink of societal collapse due to its people ‘coming off’ the hallucinogenic drug, Joy, which has been used to keep the city’s inhabitants subdued and blissfully unaware about the truth of the world in which they live.
Played in single-player mode and from a first-person perspective, players take on the role of one of three characters within the game’s different arcs, each with their own story, reason for wanting to escape Wellington Wells and with unique skills and abilities. Each arc provides players with a narrative goal, main missions as well as side quests that can be completed.
Focussed heavily on narrative, players follow each character’s journey by completing missions and objectives, allowing them to not only progress through the character’s story arc but also allows them to gain skill points, which can be used toward unlocking certain attributes on the character’s skill tree. Naturally, this in turn allows players to progress through the game more quickly and effectively.
Combining stealth and survival, players must escape the city without alerting the Home Guards or other inhabitants, who are all still under the influence and brainwashed by the Joy drug. This was particularly challenging for me as stealth is certainly not my forte. I found it difficult, even on normal mode, to creep up behind enemies to get to my objectives as the slightest thing gave my position away. Thankfully the game had a range of equipment and ‘hiding spots’ that helped to keep my character concealed as well as distract the guards. I still failed and was caught several times but a better and more experienced gamer shouldn’t find it too hard to progress with stealth manoeuvres.
Combat is necessary when stealth doesn’t work as it becomes crucial to knock out enemies with punches and beat downs when trying to escape. I have to hand it to Compulsion Games though, they certainly made the Home Guards extremely tough to beat.
Like most games these days, crafting and working your way down a skill tree are crucial aspects of We Happy Few, which I, as a beginner when it comes to games with crafting and skill trees, found challenging. Crafting is not actually too bad as there are a wealth of items and objects to pick up throughout the game. I just tend to panic when presented with so many different options and choices.
Story-wise, this was the most gripping part of the game for me. I desperately wanted to know what was going on in regards to the hallucinogenic drugs, how it all came about, the backstory of each character and the like. I was intrigued. As I mentioned above, there’s something about dystopian societies and dark, sinister motives that pull me in and leaves me fascinated. The way in which We Happy Few carried out the story with such suspense easily had me coming back for more.
Of course, no good story can be told without good graphics and an awesome soundtrack. We Happy Few may have weird glitches here and there that impacted progress but overall the game looked visually great in a very unique sense. The unique visuals, different from any other game I’ve played is another factor that had me glued to We Happy Few. On top of that, the eerie and rather creepy soundtrack made the game all the more intense, keeping up with the ‘thriller’ themes of the game.
Overally, We Happy Few is one heck of a thrill, despite my own personal challenges. With an engaging and intriguing story, gameplay that requires skill and a unique audio and visual experience, fans of action-adventure, strategy and survival games will get a treat out of playing this title.