Welcome to the world of We Happy Few, a survival-horror game in which it is illegal to be unhappy. I’ve had this game on my radar since the trailers dropped a few years ago. It’s been sitting in my Steam wishlist for years and I finally decided to take the plunge and see if it lived up to my expectations.
This game does not live up to my expectations. It severely crushes them and opens my eyes to a whole new standard of video games.
You begin the game as Arthur, a man whose job it is to redact and approve information about the past to ensure everyone stays happy. He sits in his office, an early Twentieth-Century styled room. It’s all very messy and steampunky. I love this design. You’re first introduced to the story when Arthur is sent an article to review that has information about his past. This triggers a flashback and subsequently pulls you into the story.
I absolutely love how this game’s story is told. There are so many games out there which have long, boring campaigns or disappointing, short ones. We Happy Few tells its story so brilliantly that I would recommend playing just on that basis.
As you explore the world, you come across radio broadcasts, newspapers, diary entries and areas that trigger flashbacks. This is such a great way to deliver exposition and I felt compelled to learn more about these little backstories every time I spotted a new note to read.
The game is narrated by Arthur’s thoughts. Occasionally, it feels like Arthur is talking to himself but, given the environment he’s in, that’s an ordinary coping mechanism and it never feels jarring.
Of course, no game nowadays will be well received unless it has groundbreaking visuals. We Happy Few undoubtedly succeeds in this regard. There are chillingly realistic textures and designs, but the game also has its own cartoonish art-style which works perfectly with the story and the tone of the whole game.
I absolutely love how this game creates atmosphere. From the very warm, happy tone at the beginning of the game, you are quickly ripped out of the trance and into the dark, dreary reality. It is so brilliantly done that it is genuinely frightening.
I felt completely comfortable playing this game, right from the get-go. You have to learn the controls, as with any game, but they make sense and fit with the conventions of similar games.
The whole game is very well paced, and I just wanted to keep playing to see where the story would take me next. It’s so easy to get around in this game and every mechanic works to immerse you in this dystopia.
While I did suffer some performance issues at times, I put that down to the limitations of my own machine. I occasionally suffered from a jankier framerate than I’m used to, but the game never encountered any problems that made it less enjoyable.
Should I Buy It?
Absolutely. This game was independently developed and couldn’t have been done without the willpower of hundreds of backers and dedicated development staff. What an achievement!
Featured image copyright Compulsion Games / Gearbox Publishing.