We Happy Few is a game based around paranoia and survival that throws players into warped, dystopian adaptation of England in the swinging 1960s. Following the failings of society, the majority of the population has become dependent on a pill. The drug itself, Joy, sends its users into a false sense of happiness - giving them total tunnel vision on a distorted and bizarrely idealized world.
The trailers and cleverly composed cut scenes gained a bunch of attention at this year's E3, providing a wealth of excitement for the playable alpha. Although We Happy Few seems to offer an enticing and unique experience, just as all alphas, it is a tad flawed in more ways than one.
1. Sure, The Game Is In Alpha - But I Found Myself Asking: Where Did The Plot Go?
The initial opening cut scenes of We Happy Few are genuinely intense and well pieced together, but after that it's as if they've just closed the door on you and decided you can fend for yourself now. Literally. There was no real guidance or context, you just get to wonder around aimlessly like a total nobody, because that's who you are - nobody.
Without a story context or structure in place, I found it really hard to relate to this character and get into the game. I found it even more difficult to guide them around without any direction. The main issue with this being a personal gripe of mine is that the game is in alpha, so it's clearly not the full experience, but seriously, who am I again?
2. For A Game Based Around Survival And Crafting, There Just Isn't Much To Do Yet
When wandering around the dystopian city of Wellington Wells, I found myself examining particular objects in order to interact with them, however there wasn't much interacting to be done. The vast majority of the time important looking items, such as phone booths and doors, didn't actually give me anything to do
As a survival based game I expected a whole bunch of being able to rip things apart in order to craft them into other useful things, but evidently not yet. The actual physical interaction with the world around you isn't the greatest, but I feel like they could really take advantage of this and improve - I mean, who doesn't want to tear a door down and turn it into a baseball bat?
3. Maps, They're Useful, Right? Apparently Not
Perhaps it was just me, but I couldn't figure out how to set markers or waypoints. Survival based RPGs have made me weak and dependent on directional markers, and it felt strange not being able to place them. Without these points, what is the point? I found the myself getting lost and not even bothering to use the map, as it all looked the same anyway.
Perhaps this is something they'll add in over time, but I did feel a little confused by the general structure and directions to take.
4. Wellington Wells Doesn't Look So Great Right Now
Oh We Happy Few, you're still a Metapod in the world of aesthetics; you're not quite there yet, but you've nearly blossomed into a beautiful Butterfree (or beta). Without going into too much detail (just as the game hasn't), it doesn't look great. We're no way near trailer levels of good looking yet, but there's still plenty of time to shine the shoes of this dystopian destination.
One particular issue I have with the current visuals of the game is that some trees are wonderfully textured, and others are essentially one block of color. The lack of consistency is strange, yet it doesn't reflect the strange atmosphere Wellington Wells deserves.
5. Combat Is There For A Reason, Yet I Felt No Reason Go Out Of My Way To Use It
Anything in early alpha isn't going to have the best fighting mechanics, let's face it. Combat is something that takes care and time to get right, but as of now it feels pretty difficult and complex.
For a stealth based survival game I often found myself outnumbered and under threat far too quickly and often. Death is basically imminent if you're unable to find sufficient weaponry, which is far and thin.
Other than that, I found myself randomly hitting other Downers just for the heck of it - Grand Theft Auto style.
6. If You've Picked Up We Happy Few, You've Got To Actually Want To Feel Somewhat Creeped Out
As an avid horror enthusiast, I expected an eerie and unnerving vibe, yet I felt more frustration than anything. Each painted character seemed more irritating than actually intimidating. I was hoping to feel followed and frightened, so I was sadly taken aback when all I felt was lost.
Creating atmosphere through music and sound is a difficult task, yet it is a vital component to the overall experience. Playing We Happy Few didn't turn me into a Downer, I'm just saying we could do with a few more spooky moments and unsettling music.
7. As Of Right Now, We Happy Few Doesn't Fill Me With Much Joy, If You Will
Its concept is interesting and creative, yet it's execution needs a lot of work. There's masses of potential for a rich plot and gripping story, but it's currently being covered up by the flawed gameplay mechanics. It's evident the game is still being developed and improved intensely behind the scenes - something we as consumers can not see yet.
Sadly, I didn't find the early access game fun to play. It didn't give me much of a drive to keep the controller in my hands, and I didn't actually feel the desire to go back to it more than once.
All in all, I found We Happy Few an average experience. Perhaps I expected too much, as the trailers seemed to offer an intense and terrifying plot, but nothing about it has swept me off my feet just yet. It's important to consider the fact the game is still in very early access though, and with helpful feedback I believe Compulsion Games could have a real winner on their hands.
We Happy Few has strong potential and it would be truly disappointing to see it go to waste, or if we all just simply took our Joy, this could be seen as a perfect game.