The last time that I got my hands on We Happy Few was probably PAX East 2015 or 2016, I can’t quite remember which one it was. At that time, I thought it was just fine, and not much more, since it was just sort of a survival game with a creepy twist. You either had to be high on “Joy” or really good at pretending that you were so that the police in this 1960’s dystopian Britain wouldn’t beat you to death or arrest you. The whole point was just to escape the island you were on and there really wasn’t much of a story besides wanting to live. I didn’t find it all that engaging and as someone who’s not really a fan of crafting in games, I wrote it off as just another survival game.
Fast-forward to 2018, and the We Happy Few that’s releasing this summer is much more of a fleshed out game than it was before. First off, we actually have some real story going on now, multiple stories, in fact that eventually weave together. Wellington Wells actually feels like a place that’s terrifying in many, diverse ways, with all kinds of different hostile factions at play. It actually feels like I have a choice with how I play too, in a sort-of Dishonored system where you can knock enemies out or kill them. I don’t know how that will tie into endings in the game, or if it will at all, since it’s possible that it may just never do that. It was interesting trying different approaches to different areas, either sneaking around and knocking out enemies one by one or going full-boar with melee weapons galore. With proper timing, you can take out multiple enemies just nothing more than a sharp stick or a rusty shovel. It almost feels better to out-wit an enemy in hand-to-hand combat than it is to just get the drop on them. There’s something here for everyone though, and I can appreciate a game pulling something like that off and doing it well.
There are lots of small side quests and treasure hunts that you can go on during the game, usually to give yourself a useful item or two. It is much more comforting going into an area laden with enemies with 7 healing items in hands versus the measly few that are thrown at you through the main missions. You can find blueprints hidden amongst the islands as well, and these really end up helping you a lot, especially the ones for weapons. Running out of weapons only to remember that you have the materials to make another sharp stick (or whatever weapon) is a great feeling. Sort of like high-fiving yourself, only way less lame.
I suppose the point that I’m trying to make is that the game does not represent the early release version of itself. If you liked Bioshock or Dishonored, then I really think that this game will intrigue you a lot, it’s got its own personal flair that can’t be ignored. Just try to be polite when you’re suffocating your neighbor or stabbing him with a sharp stick, manners are everything, after all.
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