We Happy Few for myself is one of those games that despite releasing only recently, feels like it’s been around for a while. This is mainly due to the fact that I managed to get a copy of the game when it released into Xbox Game Preview. Now, from playing that early build to playing the one that finally released, the game is a totally different prospect, it blends a mix of survival and storytelling to bring you quite a strange yet satisfying combination. The main story of the game is a dystopian alternate reality in Britain where Germany have won the second world war. The game is based in Wellington Wells, where the town has developed a drug names ‘Joy’. The drug is meant to block any memories from the atrocities of the war and keep you happy. Those who comply and take their Joy… well, get along super, however, if you don’t take your Joy then you will be classed as a downer and thrown out of society. This is one element that I really like from the procedurally developed worlds. They kind of brought to life what was going on and how each part of society was affected.
I really like how the game is designed, the worlds do have life to them and as mentioned above, bring that atmosphere to what is happening, whether your on Joy or not. The buildings and areas are nicely displayed, with some having rather eerie messages on the walls, most of which seem to be designed for children to try and keep them at peace during hard times, however in the broken down houses that are now just shells of their former self, they come across as really freaky and uneasy.
The story within the game is fantastic and this is the games major strong point. It follows 3 playable characters Arthur, Ollie, and Sally, each of which has there own specific style of play. Ollie is more of your combat guy, Sally prefers stealth while Arthur is kind of in the middle of both. My first playthrough of the game, I decided that I wasn’t going to take any Joy, I was intrigued by how the story would pan out by being able to remember everything, and I have to admit, I absolutely loved it, especially with Arthur and his mission to try and find his brother Percy. I did have to take Joy at certain times though, especially when entering the main town, mainly because I couldn’t do it without taking Joy as there was a downer detector, and had to keep taking it as people start to get suspicious when you’re coming off Joy. There was one point which had me perplexed, and I think it was because I was coming off my Joy, but loads of random people started chasing me at one point and I couldn’t get my head around it, especially as I was still on my Joy, then the police arrive as well… Confused. Was kind of fun though having to run from a horde of people… It was kind of like the Walking Dead and running from Zombies, but these were more like Joymbies? I’ll work on that.
One thing that you do have to watch out for within the game is when you take a drink of water from one of the pumps that are laying around the world (this will have an effect on stamina) is that it may have Joy in the water. This is where finding or crafting a water filter comes in handy. There’s nothing better than having a nice fresh cool glass of water that’s been filtered to it’s finest… Aaaaahh! One thing about taking Joy as well is that if you overdose on it, it can kill you, just like any drug, and speaking of being killed, if you die in We Happy Few, the game will take you back to a previous checkpoint which means any progress after that checkpoint will be lost, and as I found out, that can be a lot of work… Oh well.
There is a crafting element in the game where you can make all kinds of different things from lockpicks to medicines to heal yourself with. It’s a pretty straightforward system and I didn’t have any issues crafting any of the items.
With all the good in the game and there is a lot, there are also some parts which aren’t so good. One problem I did encounter a fair bit of was the framerate dropping and the game would just stutter for a bit, it was only a few seconds but was still quite annoying.
I have to admit that I really enjoyed We Happy Few and it seems to be a game that with the procestorytellingated worlds, I could easily go back and play again to see how it would play out again by taking joy all the way through. If you’re interested in your open world, story telling, survival games, then I would highly recommend this game to you. Yes, it has it’s issues, however, the story telling out weights anything else and it simply a ‘Joy’ to playthrough and experience…. Ha, see what I did there… I’ll get my coat…