We Happy Few Impressions

At the Xbox E3 2016 conference fans were treated to another peak at Compulsion Games psychological survival game We Happy Few, which is set to release on Xbox Preview on July 26th.

When the game was first shown at E3 2015 what we was glimpse into the world of a set of perceived happy folk living in what appeared to be a town in 1960’s London. However, something did not seem quite right with the inhabitants of this town because in an interesting twist these seemingly happy few with happily euphoric frozen painted faces may indeed be raging psychopaths underneath it all.

This year we finally got to see some gameplay of We Happy Few and it sets the tone for what could be fantastically warped story to say the least.  

The demo starts off in the office of our would be protagonist who is pouring over news articles at his desk as he seemingly comes across that did not seem quite right to him. In a bit of a fog he reaches for his pill bottle to take his dose of “JOY” and for some reason he makes the conscience decision to not take it. At this point a “friendly” coworker comes and she finds you haven’t taken your joy. She then reminds you about the birthday party you are supposed to be attending and that they have a piñata.

It did not go unnoticed during the gameplay demo just how fantastic the style and art direction of We Happy Few really is. It does have a particularly creepy feel to it, and is reminiscent of  the 1972 film A Clockwork Orange but also if the film was mashed up with Bioshock.

We Happy Few will be a procedurally generated game and according to Compulsion Games CCO Sam Abbott the game is combination of open world gameplay but with linear storytelling. At a glance the gameplay demo did not show much in the way of interaction with the environment but until we have a chance to go hands on it’s hard to make a determination.

As the demo continues you come across a man who appears to be stabbing someone in the neck with a syringe. Could this possibly be another form of the Joy drug or could it be something a bit more ominous and sinister? Once you arrive at the party you notice your co workers gathered around what appears to be the aforementioned piñata and bashing it. They beckon you to take a turn at giving it whack and as you smash it the illusion breaks as you are sprayed with something only to notice that you have blood on your hands.

As everyone is grabbing and eating the would be candy the nightmare begins when you look down and notice that instead of a piñata with candy pouring out it’s a rat you have bashed, and the others are eating it .

As any Joy you have taken begins to fully wear off and you begin to see the world as it really is the others in the room begin to notice that you may be off your med . They offer you more Joy and as you back away in refusal your would be “friendly: coworker begins to state, “Oh my lord he’s a downer, call security he’s a downer”.  It’s at this moment our  protagonist starts sprinting to get away from the ruckus and in a state of panic at the events that have unfolded. This is also where the demo ends.

This game was already on my radar last year and the demo did not disappoint or change my opinion in that regard. If anything it has left me wanting much more. I’m eager to learn about this world and why these supposed happy few in clown make up are tying to keep everyone in a fog with “JOY” medication.

What if it’s drugs they are feeding you in some asylum to keep people calm and in a dream state? That could indeed be an interesting twist.  It could be that your drugs are wearing off and the realities of the real world are starting to come through.

There are so many possibilities within the setting of this game and that makes for a very intriguing proposition indeed. We Happy Few is coming out on the Xbox preview program and Steam on July 26th.