We Happy Few Review

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We Happy Few Original Game

Original Story

We Happy Few is a new game developed by Compulsion Games and published by Gearbox that brings tons of story and adventure gameplay elements packed into one video game. As you play through the game with the characters Arthur, Sally, and Ollie; you experience new gameplay options, skill trees, and interactions with other characters and NPCs.

The Quick Game

When starting We Happy Few, you begin as Arthur Hastings, working at a newspaper that redacts articles from the past. As he comes across and article about himself and his brother Percy Hastings, you have the choice to either remember the past or to take your Joy pill. If you take the Joy pill you become ‘Snug as a Bug on a Drug’, and the game cuts to the credits scene. This is certainly the quickest gameplay for We Happy Few, leading Arthur to forgo his past and instead choose Joy.

The Real Game

Should you choose to remember the past, Arthur is thrown into turmoil by remembering the past, and the incidences that led to everyone choosing to take Joy pills. Not only this, but people can sense that he’s off his Joy, and he becomes hunted by the Bobbies, co-workers, and friends; forcing him to react in violent and sneakier ways than he would with his Joy.

Gameplay Mechanics

Skill Trees

Some fantastic things about We Happy Few are the gameplay mechanics that play a large role in how the game varies in styles. There’s a skill tree for each character where you put points earned from in-game actions in, unlocking new abilities. These vary depending on the character you’re playing, including Arthur, Sally, and Ollie.

Arthur for example has a skill tree focusing on combat, stealth, and his super-duper specialties, while Sally has survival, stealth, and her own super-duper specialties. By putting more points into stealth for both, the game no longer triggers NPCs actions by crouching or running; which they are normally suspicious about. Whereas combat for Arthur increases his fighting abilities, as Sally’s survival increases her capabilities to survive fights.

Use of Joy and Drugs

The main use of Joy in We Happy Few is for the people to forget the terrible pasts they have. As a gameplay mechanic, Joy gives the player less suspicion when roaming public areas and certain checkpoints. That being said, the game can relatively be completed without using Joy or other drugs – you’ll just trigger more enemies and require more fighting stances or escapes. Other drugs in We Happy Few like Sunshine can take away your Joy affect, and even simulate the effects of Joy so the character is less suspicious.

The use of Joy is a MAJOR story mechanic that is recognized as essentially stimulating the public to be happy and sedated. I haven’t yet discovered who and what created Joy as I only finished Arthur’s story and parts of Sally’s, but Wellington Wells had a horrific past and started using Joy in the past decade or two to forget the past including close family members and events.

Crafting

Crafting is a huge element in We Happy Few, and makes the game much more easier to play. There are numerous crafting locations such as a Chemistry Table or Mechanical Table that give you more advanced recipe crafting, or basic inventory ones for healing balms and lockpicks.

Survival

Another great aspect and gameplay mechanic to We Happy Few is the survival aspects including the need to eat and hydrate. This is something that can be experienced in Fallout 4, and adds just a tiny bit of tricky mechanics to the game. Not only must you complete the quests and stay under alert from the Bobbies, but now you must eat and drink; what a twist!

The Irresistible Plot

MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD

One of the most sensational parts of We Happy Few is the plot. There’s so much mystery surrounding Wellington Wells and the Parade. Who is Uncle Jack? What happened to the children sent off to Germany? Why are the German tanks made out of paper maché? Who came up with Joy? Where’s the rest of the world outside of Wells? Does anyone else take Joy? These are the major questions that encompass the player, alongside the side-quests that add additional plot questioning and intrigue.

Compulsion Games certainly has a ton of information that could potentially be added onto We Happy Few through future updates, DLCs, and other additions that could lengthen the game and bring different perspectives into the world of We Happy Few. While Arthur, Sally, and Ollie do provide different perspectives and interactions, knowing the world outside of Wellington Wells could also be something gamers and plot enthusiasts are looking to find.

The Intoxicating Soundtrack

Because We Happy Few is set in the 1960s, the soundtrack is amazing. Compulsion created a boy-band named The Make Believes, who are formulated from many different real bands; and they made the full soundtrack for We Happy Few that includes vocals. The official music video below for the headlining soundtrack ‘La La La’ by The Make Believes is below, showing how Joy changes your life; brought to you by Uncle Jack!

There are other vocal soundtracks to the game including:

  • ‘Dead of Winter’
  • ‘Out of the Blue’
  • ‘Smiling Crime’
  • ‘Zombieland’
  • ‘When You’re Gone’
  • ‘Georgie Joy’
  • ‘I Wanna Stay the Same’

You can get your own copy of the soundtrack and digital goods directly through Gearbox

The Down-Side

With all games there are bad points that must be labelled, and We Happy Few has a couple that should be noted. One of the major down-sides to We Happy Few is the animations for the NPCs. During cut-scenes for side-quests sometimes the NPCs don’t face you, depending on where you interact with them. Alongside this, occasionally their mouths don’t move during cut-scenes, but the major cut-scenes with important characters are REMARKABLY done and have no flaws. It seems that Compulsion certainly put more effort into the main quest cut-scenes and not all of them entirely.

The Good-Points

While We Happy Few does have animation problems with their NPCs and minor cut-scenes, the game is really great. Fantastic gameplay mechanics, good dialogue, and a soundtrack that could rival many other games. It’s rare these days to find games with actual vocal soundtracks that fit their genre, like Fallout 4 with their post-apocalyptic music. With Compulsion Games creating The Make Believes and having a soundtrack entirely to their dystopian 1960s England, the music is not just enjoyable but fitting.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking to put in a good 20+ hours in an RPG adventure game, We Happy Few is probably your best bet. While the $60 price tag is very hefty, I would say the potential gameplay time spent is worth it. Not only do you get to experience the game through three perspectives, but they each have different stories and abilities that change how the game can be played.

We Happy Few is currently available on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC!

*We played through the main story including Arthur Hastings. We started Sally’s quest, but have not finished or begun Ollie’s.

We Happy Few: DLC #2 Lightbearer

'Lightbearer' DLC

Compulsion Games has just launched the second We Happy Few DLC called Lightbearer. It links into the universe of the game very well, and gives a new perspective on the world.

Major Lightbearer DLC Spoilers Ahead

Story

In this DLC you play as Nick Lightbearer (Norbert Pickles) who is a musician in the world. He’s notorious for taking drugs he calls “red and yellows”, and ‘shagging’ his adoring female fans. They make a bunch of tastefully funny jokes about his promiscuity, and how he’s fallen as a musician. In some ways, this DLC is also a redemption story for him, but we’ll get to that part later on.

This DLC opens up to him being passed out next to a woman covered in blood, which is always very boding. From there, you get pushed into this mystery-esque DLC. When I mean mystery, it’s that soon after this you find out ‘Foggy Jack’ is a serial killer and murdering fans of Nick Lightbearer. It’s very unclear who this person is, since the constables have been unable to capture him, which has some people worried, and others out looking for him.

The way in which Nick Lightbearer is connected to this killer is not only his fans, but his band manager Virgil was murdered and his coming to him as an imaginary rat trying to lead Nick in the right direction. This is because Nick is having blackouts from taking too many drugs and not knowing what happened the night before.

Virgil as a Mouse

Story Spoilers

Throughout the game Nick Lightbearer is struggling to discover what happened the nights before. He ultimately thinks that he could be responsible for the murders because he doesn’t remember what happened. When playing this DLC I can admit that I did believe him to be guilty, and that it would have a much darker story-line. After all, drugs can make people do things unlike themselves in We Happy Few.

There were a few instances where he fully doubted himself, and I doubted him too.

What certainly doesn’t help his case is that he gets flashbacks of the murders.

Nick is genuinely unable to account for his whereabouts, until the end when we discover Foggy Jack is a real person, and committing these heinous murders for attention from Nick. Specifically, he wants Nick to write a song about him and by killing his fans he’s making a place for himself.

When Nick does discover that he is not guilty of murders, just guilty of witnessing them, he’s set out to end Foggy Jack for good, and complete vengeance for Virgil and his fans.

From here, the game cuts to the end where Nick Lightbearer is doing a concert and promises to be a better version of himself.

Gameplay & Fighting

One major thing I love about this DLC is that it’s all a closed-in level design. While open world is very useful for the main game, it is also easy to be side-tracked. With this DLC you are essentially trapped in the location by barricades and doors being blocked. It’s much more straight forward on where you need to go, and for that I am thankful. The other interesting element is the guitar ‘weapon’ that Nick has. The guitar itself is his defense, and you can lull enemies by serenading them or blow their minds with a rift. The other major mechanic is being able to scan the environment for clues, or blocking attacks with the ‘vibe’ guitar button.

When scanning the environment, these golden statues of Nick will come to life and point in the direction of where you should be going. While it could be considered hand-holding, it was useful in some circumstances when I couldn’t find a small item.

Golden Nick Lightbearer Statue for Scanning the Environment

One other element that is introduced are the golden discs, which are basically frisbees to throw around at buttons. I didn’t bother using them against enemies since the guitar is much more interesting.

The specific fighting in the game isn’t too bad. I did play this on Easy-Mode as to enjoy the story more and have less trouble with fights. Again, it is all based around the guitar and letting that skill recharge.

Boss Fight Spoilers

The biggest fight in the game is of course the boss fight at the end with Foggy Jack. His main ability is throwing masks at you, and spawning small versions of himself on stage. Simply hit them with rifts, and the stun the larger masks with golden albums and then shoot. It’s very fast-paced and easy to overcome.

Controls

The controls for the game a very straight forward. With controller support, I chose to use an Xbox One controller instead of PC keyboard and mouse, but below is the controls information for both versions.

When playing this on the controller, I didn’t find too much difficulty. The only major problem was in the final boss fight trying to aim at the masks flying towards you. In this case, I just waited until they were close and spammed my guitar rift.

Dialogue & Loading Screens

The dialogue is extremely spot-on. Nick Lightbearer’s character is very stereotypical rockstar, and his interactions with fans, or his ex-wife Petunia are as you would imagine. But the dialogue that he uses is classic 1960s England, with slang and vernacular. Aside from this, there were some very hysterical moments within the game. For example, a Go Go Dancer forces Nick to dance on a pole or she won’t give him an essential item to the story.

Another example is during a smaller mini-scene in the game when Nick takes the drugs and a new level opens up.

Loading screens are also very entertaining in the game. They have little quips, with Nick’s face and a color changing background.

Soundtrack & Sound Effects

The soundtrack for the DLC is the same as the game. As an example, the guitar rifts feature songs from The Make Believes. The one major change is now there are screaming fans. Some of the sound effects for them are screaming about how much they love Nick, how they want to marry him, and see him. Since music is the main feature for this DLC, I think it’s fitting that the guitar sounds like a guitar, with music also match Wellington Wells.

Environment & World

The environment and world in this DLC is as spectacular as the original game. It’s vivid with color, and has some cute posters and paintings that connect the universe. Some to mention are fake magazine covers for Nick Lightbearer, some artwork, Uncle Jack, and of course a cute cat!

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed this DLC. It was just close enough to the main story in concept but had its own vision and mechanics. I also really love The Make Believes, and anything that can incorporate the beautiful We Happy Few soundtrack I’m all for. Based on value and price, the DLC ran me about 3 hours of gameplay. While we were provided a code for this, the DLC does run $7.99. I think the price-point is really good for this DLC considering how short it is, but also what is introduced that wasn’t in the original game.

We Happy Few and DLC #2 Lightbearer is officially out on Steam! Compulsion and Gearbox have announced one last DLC called We All Fall Down.

*Note that our score is compiled from both the main game and DLCs. What you are seeing is the average of the game franchise as a whole. 

Good

  • Great Soundtrack
  • Tons to Do
  • Characters Vary Enough with Perspectives
  • Benefits and Drawbacks of Joy are Present
  • DLC #2 Has New Guitar Mechanics
  • DLC #2 Has Mini and Contained Levels

Bad

  • Animations in Cut-Scenes Not Always Great
  • DLC #2 Had One Bugged NPC
9.3

Amazing

Story - 10
Character Variances - 9.2
Gameplay - 8.5
Soundtrack - 10
Graphics/Cut-Scenes - 8
Fighting Styles - 10
An avid gamer, journalist, literary reviewer, and lover of all things Marvel; wrapped in a colorful hair-do.
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