When life annoys, top up your joy!
Compulsion Games' We Happy Few, which is currently available on Game Preview (and Steam Early Access), is an indie survival game, set in a dystopian, retrofuturistic Great Britain, following the events of World War II, had the war turned out differently. As Compulsion described it on their Kickstarter, it's a "game of paranoia and survival, in a drugged-out, dystopian English city in 1964." and well, yeah... that pretty much describes it perfectly.
My review for the Game Preview has been long overdue, in part because of shit that has been going on in my life, and also because I just didn't feel like I'd successfully managed to get a decent way into the game for me to review. Well, I have now, and with the new update just released/about to release on consoles, what better time than to tell you all what I think!
Gameplay wise, it's a fun (albeit fucking frustrating) endeavor. I really enjoyed the tasks you are given, however I did find them quite a bit more challenging than they should be really, at times. This was mainly down to the fact I'd have to repeatedly visit certain locations, and even with the map there for you to use, it was quite difficult, as points of interest are highlighted, but with no identifying note or Quest name appearing when you hover over it.
The residents of Wellington Wells, are downright creepy, be they Wastrels or those "Happy" folk. And boy do they hold a grudge. I was caught walking into someone's house and they chased me practically to the other end of the map. One slightly annoying part of the character design is that pretty much every woman has the same face, and again, pretty much every man has the same face (and I mean when they don't have those happy masks on!), too. A little bit more variety would have been great, but I understand that this may be something that comes later. We are in the Early Access/Game Preview stage right now, I suppose.
The game is largely based on survival. You of course have tasks that need doing, but survival plays a huuuuge part in the game. I felt like the survival aspect was much harder than expected. With your hunger, tiredness and thirst meters all pretty much constantly depleting, I really did struggle at times, almost to the point of just wanting to give up completely.
But, I persevered. And I improved. And with each continual death (and eventually with me turning off the permadeath setting to enable me to actually get to grips with the game!), I grew more fond of it. The difficulty of survival was still there, but it wasn't as much of a threat, so I was less panicky, and more able to fulfill the quests and focus on actually finding what needed to be found.
Another obviously big part of the game is your choice with the drug, Joy. Joy is a drug that, bar the first part of the game where you take the joy as part of a cut-scene, you can choose to go without. It does as the name would suggest. It makes you, the character, happy and carefree, and makes the world around you seem a brighter, happier place (often obscuring some morbid or disgusting thing, and making it seem like something fun or beautiful). Within the Wastrel areas of the game, nobody is on Joy. They are all hopeless, and living in wrecked and abandoned houses, with very little in terms of food or first aid. Fights will break out, and the whole area is a slum. As you progress, and you get into the main part of Wellington Wells, everyone is on Joy, and if they suspect you of not being on Joy, too, then they won't hesitate to attack. This can be a challenge, as Joy isn't always easily found throughout the game.
When the game gets its full release, there will be three playable characters, one of whom being the character you are now, and with the other two to be revealed at a later date.
One sidequest I just could not do no matter what I tried was the Crazy Legs one. There's a dude just running rampant, the fastest guy you'll ever see. We're talking Mo Farah or Usain Bolt here. Everytime I saw him running towards me and I prepared to attack, he was gone. Since it's an optional side quest, I figured I'd leave him for later, when I am a little better at the game.
It's a fun game, but very hard to give a real impression of right now, since it's just the Game Preview. I'm definitely excited for what's to come, and to see how it progresses with each update, but at the same time, I kinda just want to wait until it's done to play, as I feel like with each update recommending you to start again, what's the point in me progressing in this save, if I'm gonna have to restart anyway?
The good thing about the Preview programme is that by purchasing the Game Preview, not only are you getting to try out the game but your money is also going to be helping out the developers, too, and more sales ultimately will mean a better game.
So if you can spare the £23.99 (on Xbox, or £22.99 on Steam), and you like the look of We Happy Few, and enjoy survival/roguelike/open world games, then definitely give this a try. I'll give the game a full rating (eg: a _/10) upon release, right now I feel like a proper score would be unfair as the game is unfinished.
So, have you tried We Happy Few yet? What were your thoughts?
Let us know in the comments below!
- V x