In the opening moments of We Happy Few, you are asked whether you’d like to remember a significant moment from your past or instead take the hallucinogenic happy pill “Joy” to continue your conformed existence among the diluted citizens of Wellington Wells. Choosing “Joy” immediately results in you completing the game and the end credits rolling. Choosing the remember option triggers our characters memory and causes him to refuse the dose of “Joy,” becoming what the citizens of Wellington Wells term as a “downer,” setting the real meat of We Happy Few in motion.
We Happy Few is a first-person procedurally generated survival game combining alternate post World War 2 history, a Bioshock aesthetic, and an almost Fable-lite element to it’s characters and quests, creating an especially unique world for players to explore. Now, I’ll admit to going into We Happy Few relatively blind. Other than being intrigued by the general aesthetic and setting of the game, I was only aware it was a full on survival experience upon jumping in for the first time. In typical survival game fashion We Happy Few drops you into a world with minimal supplies, no goals, and an obtuse learning curve. After the brief opening, you awaken in your underground safe house with a bed, some safe storage, and a few random items to loot to get you started.
Upon climbing the ladder and exiting into the city of Wellington Wells, you’ll begin to notice some of the uniqueness and key features that We Happy Few brings to what seems like an endless pool of early access survival games that may or may not ever officially release. Unlike most survival games, as you exit out into the seemingly endless streets of Wellington Wells you’ll notice you aren’t alone. Tons of other NPC’s roam the streets as well, seemingly carrying out their mundane existence along side you. Part of your survival will be to essentially blend in with them and not reveal yourself as too much of a downer.
These NPCs serve as the bread and butter of the game, providing you with quests, adversaries, zany dialogue, and exposition for the wonderful lore of the game. Since this is an early access version of the game we are only presented with the basic survival mode, though the full release claims to bring multiple playable characters all with their own backstories and quest lines to work through. It’s an exciting prospect to actually play a survival game where you care about the world you are getting involved in; this is probably the most intriguing part of the We Happy Few for me.
Once you get your bearings regarding the basics of survival by minding your thirst, hunger, and exhaustion, the exploration of We Happy Few opens up. You’ll be scouring the streets of Wellington Wells for homes to loot, holes to dig, new recipes to unlock, and quests that seem to be varied and continue to expose you to more and more of the excellent lore the world has to offer. I was tasked with finding some honey to pay the toll to cross a bridge into another part of the city, providing certain characters with some drugs, finding a power cell to open up another bridge for more exploration options, and stopping a wacky runner who wont stop running around the streets. It’s eclectic mix of stuff to do that adds some additional layers to the typical survival game fare.
While the game is definitely an early access title, it still looks decent and has some eerie lighting during nighttime when fog takes over the streets. Gameplay feels about par for the course for a first person survival game, with melee combat feeling ever clunky but efficient enough to get the job done. Being only a few hours into the We Happy Few, I’m not sure how much combat will come into play, how avoidable it can be overall, or if there will be some interesting non-melee weapons down the line. I also may have missed something somewhere in the two different runs I started up but I’m not totally sure if there is an overall goal I should be working towards as the days tick by. We Happy Few remains obtuse in this way, leaving lots to be uncovered.
Overall my impression of We Happy Few is that even as a work in progress it has enough going for it to keep survival fans interested, especially if you want a little more weight in the world you are dropped into. Interesting world building, funny and abstract dialogue, and a unique look for a survival game give We Happy Few an edge over similar fare. Wellington Wells is still ripe for exploration, and I plan on jumping back in soon to see what other weirdness I can discover in the delusion-filled and endlessly happy world Compulsion Games has cooked up.
Note: This game code was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.