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.
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 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.
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’
- ‘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
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.
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.
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.