Drugs and Dead Bodies in the Dark, Twisted Game We Happy Few

Prozac nation.

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Now Playing: We Happy Few Reactions at E3 2016

The 1960’s continue to serve as fertile ground for fiction, from the television show Mad Men to the dark alternate history of Wolfenstein: The New Order. Compulsion Games’ We Happy Few shows us a dystopian view of sixties England, a troubled world where not only can you alter your present reality but also rewrite your own past.

The so-called “functioning” members of society rely on an anti-melancholic medication simply called Joy. Naturally, forgetting to take one’s medication can have huge consequences. Colleagues see you as a threat as you gain disturbing clarity on everything wrong with the world in front of you. Disrupting this poor idea of peace and normality is the protagonist, Arthur Hastings, a drone working for an information management office.

Between the disturbingly masked characters and the mindless routine of your job as an archivist selectively censoring news clips, We Happy Few’s theme of conformity is made abundantly clear in its initial minutes. Skipping the scheduled Joy dosage makes Arthur greatly upsets his co-workers and triggers an escape sequence that leads him to the outside world. Emerging from the underground office reveals a grim vision of a war-ravaged England, specifically a small coastal fictional city called Wellington Wells.

In keeping with the dark cartoon aesthetic of the initial scenes, Wellington Wells itself is portrayed as an almost dreamlike city, where its citizens walk in a daze while they attempt to carry on as if everything is normal, despite many gutted, unlivable homes. There’s dad’s chair next to a newspaper and a tea setting all laid out, even with overgrowth surrounding all the furniture. These locales often feel like a caricature of English urbanity as you admire the classic and ornate patterned wallpaper while a voice nearby sings "London Bridge Is Falling Down."

General exploration of the land automatically triggers quests, many of which have straightforward directives like disposing of a corpse or saving someone from an angry mob. New areas are unsurprisingly gatekept and passing those barriers involves finding the right items, whether that’s a power cell or an official’s key card.

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Exploring and gaining access to new areas goes hand in hand with We Happy Few’s crafting system. It isn’t a system so much as it is a series of rewards for finding as many items as possible throughout the maps. Some crafting recipes like lockpicks and weapons make more sense than others items, the kind that require a bit of obtuse thinking. You pick up a roll of duct tape and suddenly you have a recipe for sneakers. It’s best to simply grab everything you find in the hopes of new recipe notifications to appear.

We Happy Few’s E3 2016 demo didn’t offer the opportunity to advance past Wellington Wells’ initial area, so its endgame and Arthur Hastings’ larger goals are still a mystery. Much will be laid bare when it reaches its next playable form on July 26 when it becomes available on Steam Early Access and Microsoft Game Preview.

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Avatar image for Zicoroen

Xbox is providing the widest variety of types of current generation games. Many IP that seem to innovate and get away from the traditional. We Happy Few seem to follow the same pattern.

Avatar image for neowarrior793

i do like the look of this game, it reminds me of bioshock. i hope its as interesting as the gameplay looks.

Avatar image for wretch1d

Really looking forward to this seems like a very interesting game with a lot or replay value

Avatar image for mdinger

Did this game get a lot of extra funding from somewhere that I didn't hear about? 'Cos the original Kickstarter raised just over $334,000, which seems a VERY limited budget to make a cross platform title. Or perhaps it was already almost fully funded without the Kickstarter?


Avatar image for jv303

It's Brexit: The Video Game

Avatar image for darthrevenx

Don't drink the Kool-Aid........a cult of drug taking psycho's, you trying to figure out WTF is going on....as I said, don't drink that stuff lolz

Avatar image for Bread_or_Decide

Reminds me of Bioshock Infinite.

Avatar image for UseTheForceLuke

one of the better (console) exclusives the xbox has can't wait

Will the price be the same on the microsoft store as it will on steam? Because its a play anywhere game so that would great if it was

Avatar image for joshrmeyer

Interesting looking game. Looked boring at first in the E3 trailer but got pretty cool looking toward the end. Hope it has a ps4 release sometime.

Avatar image for ps3gamer1234

No PS4 :(

Avatar image for deactivated-5802d4d9371b3

@ps3gamer1234: it's coming to PS4. During Microsoft's E3 conference, anything that was exclusive to Xone and PC was boldly announced prior to showing. With We Happy Few, it said "coming to Xbox first". Also the newest Game Informer says a version is planned. It might have that window of exclusivity Microsoft loves, but it'll show up

Avatar image for Zicoroen

@Pipboy360: Maybe it's just like No Man's Sky, The Witness, Firewatch and many others...

Avatar image for freedom01

This game really looked great, looking forward for this

Avatar image for suicidesn0wman

I can't wait to try out this game, it looks so odd and freaky, love it!