We often play games trying to cause a ruckus and be as out-going as possible. But We Happy Few by Compulsion Games wants us to do the opposite. Be calm; don’t attract attention to yourself; stay positive.
We Happy Few takes place in an alternate history, sometime in the 1960s, sometime after an currently unknown catastrophic event. Everyone is forced to take pills to remain happy and help forget this tragedy. People who fail to comply or begin to show signs of stress and unhappiness are hunted down and bludgeoned to death. Citizens of the town I spawned in wore masks with smiles chiseled into them, which were very reminiscent of BioShock’s splicers, symbolizing the false utopia the setting presents.
The developers emphasized the fact that the game was in “pre-pre-Alpha” and has only been in development for 8 months. However, I already see some interesting things that force me to manage certain variables. In addition to the health meter, the player has to keep track of happiness by making sure they are not hungry, thirsty, or sad. In order to aid them in this, the player can take “happy pills” to boost their mood. But these drugs cause dehydration, which leads to sadness. No worries. Some doors in the village are open. Just walk into someone’s house and take a sip of tap water. Careful when you’re trespassing, though. That’ll get everyone suspicious and attacking. And brandishing your weapon in public just makes it worse.
In addition to this stress-juggling act, the game also features different maps on replays. The game will auto-generate new layouts for a different experience.
We Happy Few offers an interesting premise at this stage. But seeing what Compulsion chooses to do with what they already have and what concepts they decide to add is going to be crucial. The area I played in was a village with streets, buildings, and alleys. I’m wondering how the world-generation feature will work with other areas that are more open. The enemies were fairly easy to evade as well. Even when enemies were alerted to my grumpiness and started attacking me, I found that it really easy to out-run them.
We Happy Few features a very clean and unique art style and was enough to pull me in from a very crowded Indie Mega Booth. I hope the developers follow through and make clever decisions when they continue their work.