Connecting The Pixels: We Happy Few

What Was The Very Bad Thing?


Connecting The Pixels is committed to overanalyzing video game stories and lore for the good of mankind, or at least to offer some interesting and dubiously plausible theories.

We Happy Few received quite a bit of praise after the release of its announcement trailer last year. When Compulsion Games released an early access version back in July they opted to do so without most of the story. This meant that the game’s narrative areas and cutscenes were all conspicuously absent when players got their first look at Wellington Wells.

This has lead to a less than enthusiastic reception from the gaming community, mostly due to the fact that the story elements are what made We Happy Few look so compelling. Since there’s not much else to do for the next six to twelve months while the game goes through early access I decided there was no harm in speculating on where the story will take us when it finally arrives. Specifically, the biggest question on everyone’s mind, just what was the ‘Very Bad Thing’ that made all the Wellies start taking Joy?

Before we start to connect the pixels let’s review what we know so far. We happy Few takes place in an alternative history of a drug-fueled, retro-futuristic city in 1964 England. The history of Wellington Wells deviated from our own during World War 2 when the Germans successfully invaded and occupied England.

During the occupation, the Wellies all took part in something hereafter referred to as ‘A Very Bad Thing’. The only way they could calm their anguish and guilt afterward was to invent a miracle happiness drug, Joy. Joy keeps them from remembering the Very Bad Thing they did, and also most normal social constructs.

The most commonly accepted theory is that, whatever they did, it involved the disappearance of the city’s children. Throughout the trailers and alpha build, children are conspicuously absent from the ruined cityscape. This could perhaps be written off as a design choice by the developers, maybe they just didn’t want to include children in the game? Except, there are a ton of clues that not only were there children in Wellington Wells, but that nobody can remember what happened to them.


So, what could have been so terrible that the entire city would choose to take Joy so that they’d never have to remember or deal with what they’d done? Standard disclaimer, the following are merely theories and interpretations of available information. While unlikely the following may contain spoilers, red herrings, or MacGuffins. You have been warned.

Joanna Mueller
Joanna is a lifelong gamer who insisted the Super Mario Bros manual was a bedtime story as a child. Video games took her to a galaxy far far away where she met and eventually married her husband. Now she reads Minecraft books to her own kiddo while finally making use of her degree to write about games like a proper adult. This is her favorite bio on the Citadel.

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