Early access: We Happy Few


There are only a few games out there that’ll catch this old adventurer’s eye. Having seen it all, I usually ignore familiar sights and themes as I scroll through feeds and releases. But in the back of my mind is the fear that I might be passing up something grand and meaningful. So every once in a while, I’ll bite into a rock and, as in this case, break a tooth on a gem.



The game also comes with free nightmares.


The Game


We Happy Few is a dark game about a group of bad people running from a city with even worse inhabitants. Set in an alternate timeline, retro-futuristic 1964 England was overrun by the Nazis in 1933. A number of events happened during the occupation that led to great depression in Wellington Wells’ population. In order to cope and forget, the Wellies turned to Joy, a happiness inducing drug.


You play one of three Downers, people who want off the pills and out of the city. Each of the three Downers has their own story which interweaves with the others. Driven by their guilt and the need to escape, they must blend in, run or fight their way past the Wellies who actively hunt Downers. Survival is a minute-to-minute task as you must scavenge, kill and if the circumstances call for it, take your Joy pills to find a way out of the city.


Out of my way! I'm leaving the Union... er city.

Rainbows in England? Man, I am high.


Why it’s worth a shot


The creators, Compulsion Games, gave us Contrast, a technically and visually beautiful game on its own. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, they’ve made this dreamy game a reality. You’ll immediately respond to the visuals if you’ve played Bioshock: Infinite, Dishonored and seen A Clockwork Orange. (Yes, graphic violence included. *shudders*) The game’s use of different models sets to differentiate drugged and clean states is brilliant. Procedural generation of the map makes sure you’ll have to explore and stay on the edge.  Know what? Here’s a video literally explaining everything:


But more than the psychedelic looks and flexible gameplay, what really caught my attention are the themes it explores. Questions about escapism, memories, addiction and morality arise as you gradually discover what happened to the city and what drove the Wellies into madness.  What does this Joy stand for? Is it a metaphor for gaming? Are we unconsciously playing to forget?


W.. Wait! I didn't mean what I said! Guys... I'm no Downer. Games are totally cool. Guys??

W.. Wait! I didn’t mean what I said! Guys… I’m no Downer. Games are totally cool. Guys??


I’ve thought about reviewing the Early Access version but the story isn’t really finished yet so I think it would be better to see if the heart lives up to the shell when it comes out.

But if you want to support the project you can check out the game here: http://compulsiongames.com/en/10/we-happy-few.

The game is announced for Xbox One, Windows, Mac and Linux.


Anymore psychedelic mania in games we should know? Interpretations of the game’s themes? Tell us in the comments below.