We Happy Few (PC) Preview

By Athanasios 04.08.2016 1

Review for We Happy Few on PC

Like in the movie industry, trailers tend to be - intentional or unintentional - liars, and end up giving the wrong impression about the end product's content. The same can be said about the world of video games, especially nowadays, since some of the recent trailers almost rival the ones from Hollywood. We Happy Few is, for the time being, a perfect example of that paradigm. Its two E3 trailers gave a delicious taste of something that felt like a cross between the dark vintage worlds of BioShock and Fallout, and novels like Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World. The truth? Read on…

It's the '60s, and Nazis have conquered England (no, this isn't Wolfenstein: The New Order), save for a place called Wellington Wells. The people over there survived, but the victory came at a high cost, because the atrocity that they committed in order to do so left them with deep scars within their hearts. Soon, however, a solution came in the form of 'Joy;' a pill that makes it easier to forget… amongst other things.

Arthur, the only playable character so far, censors newspaper articles so that the populace can keep wearing its happy face - and take that literally, because citizens of Wellington Wells actually use a, somewhat creepy and permanently smiling, white mask. Arthur skips his "blue pill" dose, though, and discovers the true nature of things, which ensures him a place over where Downers live; the outcasts whose bodies reject Joy. The mission from now on? Escape this Orwellian nightmare and stay alive while at it.

While not very original, the Unreal 4-powered world of We Happy Few is quite the promising one, although it could certainly look more creepy and post-apocalyptic, not to mention that the retro-dystopia style that it uses lacks character, and has seen better days in the BioShock and Fallout series. The real problem, though, lies in the gameplay, since, what started as something that felt like an interesting, plot-heavy adventure, is actually nothing more than a been-there-done-that survival game, similar to… almost every other one out there.

Screenshot for We Happy Few on PC

Here's the deal. While Arthur roams the place to gather the ingredients needed to craft most of his weapons, tools, etc., his basic needs will destroy the overall pacing. Walked for two minutes? He's hungry. Halfway through a quest? Thirsty. Approached another, and not that distant, area? Now he must go back to bed… and wake up hungry and thirsty afterwards. Unfortunately, even if this heavily problematic system gets tweaked, this currently feels like a boring, boring game.

Quests mostly revolve around gathering ingredients to craft the required item, the world never gives that feeling of discovery, and the bare Oblivion-like melee battles are simplistic and unexciting. Even the few good ideas that were thrown in, like the use of outfits (and Joy pills) that help blending in with the people of different class, got squished between running around trying to find some apples to eat and running back to the water pump to quench your thirst… or getting some shuteye, every 10 freaking minutes!

The thing about this, otherwise intriguing, indie project is that its strength probably lies in its plot, which, frankly, is nowhere to be seen here, since this Early Access version was given to the public with the purpose of receiving feedback for the gameplay elements, bugs, and so on. The only bits of plot that are currently available are scattered pieces of "lore," like letters or torn newspapers, which, in all honesty, don't do the trick.

Screenshot for We Happy Few on PC

Final Thoughts

We Happy Few is a generic survival FPS, disguised as socio-political commentary where BioShock's Rapture meets George Orwell's Airstrip One, and V for Vendetta's UK meets Equilibrium's Libria. As it is, this indie product needs an enormous amount of work on multiple levels, and mostly on its survival/scavenging mechanics. As for the plot, it remains to be seen if it can make a difference.

Developer

Compulsion

Publisher

Compulsion

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Sounds like a real shame. Contrast was fantastic once the bugs were fixed so I had high hopes here.

http://www.fanficmaker.com <-- Tells some truly terrible tales.
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