I heard about Compulsion Games’ We Happy Few for the first time about a year ago. A friend sent me an article announcing the game and the story behind it. I have been eagerly waiting to play it ever since. After the E3 trailer, I was even more excited. I remember watching the trailer intently, and gasping as blood spurted from the “pinata.” I was so impressed and excited by the trailer that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the alpha. However, I am slightly disappointed by what the game is as of right now.
We Happy Few is indie horror survival game that takes place in a dystopian England in 1960 where Joy is all the rage. Joy is a drug that allows you to forget all the painful memories one might have and also affects how you see the world around. You play as Arthur Hastings, a redactor who censors old newspapers for negative, sad news. Arthur comes across an article about his brother and makes the decision to stop taking his Joy. When he is found out, his co-workers chase him into the underground screaming, “Downer! Downer!” You emerge from your safe house into The Wastes, a place for those whose bodies rejected Joy altogether. So your journey begins.
The game is in alpha right now so none of the story is available to you and only half of the world is open. Without any story; however, I feel like I am just wandering the Wastes. There are quests you can do in the Wastes, but the game doesn’t make it easy. The quests are all essentially the same thing: fetch this item, kill this person, open this chest, so on and so forth. The game doesn’t give you any directions, waypoints, or markers for these quests, so you just have to wander around until you find whatever it is you’re looking for. After you can finally complete a quest, the rewards just aren’t great for all the time you’ve spent wandering around.
Another factor that makes quests so difficult are your thirst, hunger, and rest meters. Water is pretty easy to come across, but hunger and rest are a little harder to fulfill. In the Wastes, it is really hard to come across food that isn’t rotten or moldy. So then you come to a decision, which is either eating the moldy food and get sick or die of starvation. The only safe place for Arthur to sleep is his safe house which will send you running back there to sleep every 15 minutes. You can chance sleeping in a random bed, but beware. You will awake to find about 6 unhappy people that all want to kick your ass and they will have giant sticks. The meters are really harsh and it’s really aggravating when you’re trying to explore the other side of the map. These uninteresting quests make it feel like a completely different game than what the trailer portrays.
That being said, I think releasing this alpha after showing such a strong trailer was not the best move. The trailer depicts an amazing story and colorful, unsettling graphics, but you don’t see any of this in the alpha. After finishing the prologue, it feels like you are dumped into a different game all together. After getting a taste of such an interesting story, it’s hard to be in that world without hearing more of it. While exploring the Wastes, you can find letters, memos, and recordings that give you some back story. However, you don’t have a lot to go off of otherwise. None of the NPC’s you run into have much of a personality and all ramble a bunch of nonsense. Arthur does this as well, which is confusing. He was a “normal” human being 5 minutes before and now he’s crazy? I know it’s just an alpha, and I really hope that Compulsion brings us the game that the We Happy Few trailer promises.
Despite my disappointment in the alpha, I am still really looking forward to We Happy Few’s final result. Especially since Compulsion is asking for our help. They have reached out to the community to ask what needs fixed or changed in the game. You can pick up We Happy Few for $29.99 on Steam and the X-box store. Would I say it’s worth $29.99 at the moment? No. I still believe in what the game could though so keep an eye on We Happy Few for more updates!
*A copy of We Happy Few was provided by the Publisher for Preview and Impressions