We Disappointed Few
We Happy Few is a game set in a dystopian, retro-futuristic, 1960s England by Compulsion Games. I remember hearing about it through a Kickstarter campaign back in June of 2015. The game interested me as it had a Bioshock/Fallout feel. I had high hopes for it and the mass reception seemed very positive. The campaign itself garnered almost 7,500 backers and made CA$85,000 more than their CA$250,000 goal. I don’t remember hearing much about it after the Kickstarter ended. I actually kind of forgot about it. After what seemed like a very long development cycle it was finally released August 10th of this year on Steam, PS4, and Xbox One.
The main story puts you in the shoes of Arthur Hastings, a reporter in Wellington Wells. It starts out well and normal enough doing your normal, reporter job censoring news (completely normal!), until you decide to not take your “Joy”. Arthur quickly remembers that everything in this world is not the wonderful, rosy, utopia that the little happy pills called “Joy” lead you to believe. Chased out of your office, thrown out of your district, labeled as a “Downer” you must find ways to blend into the crowd of drugged up denizens so that you may get back to your district and to the train tracks beyond to escape the country. You are given two other characters to play as well, Sally Boyle, and Ollie Starkey. Their stories are not just rehashing of Arthur’s story. Each has their own unique telling of their escape from Wellington Wells.
Straight from the pages of W.W. Vogue
We Happy Few is played in a first-person and features normal first-person Shooter controls. I played this game with both an Xbox controller and, mouse and keyboard. While both control options feel responsive and intuitive I do prefer the controller, but I am a console plebian. You are given a crafting ability that allows you to make a myriad of items. These items range from things that can help you blend in, heal/cure yourself, or fight your way out of situations. Fitting in with the populace of an area is a staple in this title. You will have to make sure you are wearing clothes that match the NPCs around you also, make sure not to act “out of the ordinary”. The game does give you stealth options if you find yourself in a situation where you can’t get out of being suspicious. This allows you to sneak up on your unsuspecting foes and render them unconscious, or sneak completely around them and not engage them at all. You can, of course, outright fight anyone who gets in your way. Combat is not all that deep but it gets the job done.
After not hearing about this game for a few years I wasn’t really sure what to expect out of it. Starting out the environments were what struck me the most. They definitely get across that dystopian wasteland, retro-futuristic setting. They are a bit cartoony but I think it adds to the feel of the game. I really enjoyed the first few hours of Arthur’s story. The tense situation getting out of your office building, navigating to the Garden District, exploring and figuring out what I could forage for crafting materials, all got my hopes up for the rest of the game. I was, much to my dismay, left with nothing but disappointment and questions.
Follow the ominous technicolor brick road
As much as I really wanted to and tried to like, even love, this game I just couldn’t get past all the glitches. It was still so buggy even after being recently patched. Every time I started it up, every area I went into, there was always something amiss. These bugs ranged from hilarious to turn-off-the-game infuriating. The NPCs’ AI ranges through all kinds of wonky. I was running from a group of enemies and hid in a trash can, accidentally tapped the Y button again, which glitched me into a trash bag. The NPCs chasing me couldn’t get to me anymore so, they started asking me if I was OK and telling me that I needed to see a doctor, and left. Walking down the streets it wasn’t unusual to see a seated NPC sliding across the street or around a corner. I had an instance where I went to get an item for a side quest only to come back unable to finish it, because an NPC was knocking on the now open door, blocking my way in. I had no option to talk to him or interact with him otherwise.
It wasn’t only the NPCs that impeded my completion of side quests and the main quest. The environments are procedurally generated which means assets are different every new game. This also makes the game very unstable. I had so many instances where I would have to reload the game, or die (it was quicker than restarting) because I would go to do an objective to progress either a quest or the story and not have a prompt to be able to do the thing. It was that or I would have to press a button several times for it to work. I got locked in rooms unable to open the door because the prompt to open them wasn’t present, or would open a door only to not be able to go through. The game also crashed and froze on me twice where I had to go into task manager to close it. With all these bumps and pitfalls, it made We Happy Few a real chore to play.
Gotta be the life of the party here in Wellington Wells
I am so incredibly disappointed with We Happy Few. I wanted so, SO much to enjoy it but I can’t even bring myself to play through the other two characters’ campaigns. The game as a whole is not horrible, don’t get me wrong. There are some genuinely great moments, but with a $60 (AAA game price tag) and $20 Season Pass, I expected a lot more than this. This feels more like a $30 game to be completely honest. It makes me wonder why and how it was released in the state it is in. I wouldn’t recommend buying this game unless it is on a really good sale or when, and if, they issue a huge patch to fix all the glitches and crashes that make We Happy Few so disappointing to play.
Final Verdict: 2.5/5
Available on: STEAM (reviewed),PS4, XBox One; Publisher: Gearbox Publishing; Developer: Compulsion Games; Players: 1; Released: August 10, 2018(STEAM, PS4, XBox One); ESRB: M Mature 17+; MSRP: $59.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a Steam review copy of We Happy Few given to HeyPoorPlayer by the publisher.