Brought to you by Compulsion Games and mostly funded by faithful followers on Kickstarter, We Happy Few has been one game that I have been looking forward to playing since it’s initial announcement at last years E3 conference. The graphics grabbed me as did the surreal, creepy, smiling faces and the old time but futuristic surroundings. The juxtaposition of the whole outlook made a perfect setting for a game I would play and got me very excited! So I was over the moon when at this years E3 came the announcement for its release.
Although the game has been released as an unfinished playable preview it is still in development. Rather then release a half-baked game Compulsion Games have added a disclaimer in when you start it up explaining that crashes and data loss may happen and that bugs are still being worked out. None of which I have experienced myself, thankfully. They have also said that once the full version is released there will be a campaign mode that will hopefully dive into the depths of the story, one of which is already compelling from what I have played.
So, not to spoil the game I will simply enlighten you to what I think of the games dynamics, graphics and my overall first impression.
The main thing I first noticed was the choices. You make many choices throughout the game, some of which I am yet to know the circumstances of but imagine it must all play a part in how your character develops through the game. Even your surroundings change due to particular decisions.
The scenery in itself is a marvel, and has an apocalyptic feel to it which parallels with the characters around you. You start in a reasonably normal setting, in the fictional English town of Wellington Wells. You’re working in an office, plodding along with life and it flips, all changes and your very first decision is one that could change the main course of the entire story.
Wellington Wells is a place where people are in need of vitality and life to keep going. It’s the 1960’s, post war and you can chose to act as such or conform with others.
The protagonist, Arthur, isn’t sure what he wants and the ramblings throughout his dialogue constantly reminds you of this. So as a player you feel compelled to strengthen and instil some faith back into yourself as Arthur.
I have to say the actual game play isn’t what I expected. I had expected a linear, straight forward story set in this weird but wonderful place but I was very, very wrong. I found this out slowly but surely as I kept dying of hunger and thirst before I had even encountered any other threats. (The developers have since announced that the difficulty of this will be reduced in the latest update). But this was when I realised how well thought out We Happy Few really is. You can die of hunger and thirst really easily, if you don’t eat or drink. Sprinting, fighting and sleeping all correlates with this as well. For example, sprinting everywhere will make you thirsty quicker then walking. If you eat something rotten there is a real chance that you may get sick, if you use a dirty bandage you may pick up a nasty unwanted infection, and there are ways of counteracting these affects too. Your weapons will become damaged and break. Your clothes become ruined and if you are dead, you are most definitely dead. Thankfully you have the option in the main menu to switch ‘permadeath’ off but it will still send you all the way to your starting point if you die.
Overall I think this indie title will grab the attention of any gamer, it has the simplicity of a single player game with the depth of an RPG. Described as a survival horror, although the gore is fun and plentiful, I would put more emphasis on this being a survival game, you literally have to fight to stay alive and you have the power to chose your own fate, so do you? or don’t you? That is the question.