We Happy Few (PlayStation 4) Review

By Michael Keener 05.09.2018

Review for We Happy Few on PlayStation 4

Imagine a world where happiness and mental contentment were solely reliant on a medication. Maybe medication is not the right term, though, if that's the result; instead it can be looked at as a form of conformity and brain washing via pills called Joy. We Happy Few takes an extremely dark and psychotic society and puts the player in the position to either embrace the lifestyle, reject it altogether, or lightly consume the Joy pills as circumstances seem fitting for use. The choice is completely personal but consequences will always be unavoidable regardless of what path is taken. Match this overall theme and plot with a surprisingly large open world, exploration that isn't always required but is always irresistible, equipment crafting, and over a dozen character upgrades and you have got a truly unique horror survival experience.

We Happy Few opens up in quite a suspenseful way. Arthur Hasting is a newspaper editor of some kind and players take control of him at his work desk. His job is to screen all newspaper articles from the past so they can be archived with only subjectively positive information. It's a small gameplay mechanic, deciding if something should be censored or not, that doesn't last long but sets the tone early for what is to be expected. One paper, in particular, spotlights Arthur and his brother when they were younger. Screams of desperation ring out, memories of something tragic come flooding back, and remorse for how it was handled break the fake appearance of the world and the player is asked to either suppress these memories by taking another Joy, or to focus hard and remember.

Taking the Joy will only loop the cycle until there is another opportunity to break it. What progressively goes downhill from here is a journey from the slums to redemption (quite literally). Going into further details regarding Arthur's story would only detract from a huge reason this is so dark and horrifying. On another note, Arthur is not the only character whose story must be told. Players will take control of two other people who have some similarities to him, but also will have unique back-stories and objectives (even though they seem to intertwine in many regards).

Screenshot for We Happy Few on PlayStation 4

One of them is Sally Boyle, a childhood friend of Arthur and a chemist in charge of some pretty powerful Joy pills. In fact, she was one of the creators of Joy pills for the Germans. Her story is more centred round running away from a scary past only to find herself deeper into the root of the problems. She is an exciting character due to the chemistry-based story and abilities. The third character, a long-time neighbour of Sally and Arthur who served in the army, goes by the name Ollie Starkey. He's a big, red-headed war veteran who doesn't shy away from what he believes to be the best answer. He is as assertive as he is stubborn, but as a whole he adds that 'be a tough cookie and destroy your enemy at whatever cost' personality that encourages those in control to act a bit more aggressively while playing.

Arthur, Sally, and Ollie are not the only characters, of course; there is a handful that plays an integral part in the story, as well as some that just play integral parts of the gameplay. Victoria is one that you meet very early on and who plays as an antagonist. Of all those in the game, she is the one that is most likely to shove Joy down the protagonists throats and fish hook their mouths into a smile (metaphorically). Another one is Anton Verloc who plays an old scientist with the worst intentions. The main enemies, though, that players will most often run into in the world include Bobbies, Doctors, and Wellies.

Screenshot for We Happy Few on PlayStation 4

Since We Happy Few takes place in an English setting, the police officers who are referred to as Bobbies will carry the respective appearance of a police officer in England. They tend to patrol around and hangout in key areas that require extra security. Doctors, whose go-to style is a clean fedora, trench coat with a rose, and stupid yellow boots, will literally force Joy pills down people's throats. They are keen when searching for downers off their meds. The last enemy type is more so just the civilians running around Wellington Wells. The game is such a living society that pressures from civilians to stay on Joy are around every corner, but just as abundant as the townsfolk are the opportunities to kill.

Due to a sizeable list of character upgrades and crafting opportunities, players will run into a huge variety of combat scenarios. Initially, the instinct may be to hide as much as possible, but as experience builds those feelings fade away. Being stealthy is a play style and a situationally advantageous method, so upgrading silent sprinting, visibility, and downer detection is key. Other upgrades include more health, a lesser reliance on eating and drinking, and more damaging attacks. Melee weapons will shoulder a lot of the load and can be anything from a sturdy steel pipe to a pointy umbrella. It's awesome to experiment with the variety of different weapons.

Screenshot for We Happy Few on PlayStation 4

There is an element of scavenging here, and it extends to looting bodies of unconscious or dead bodies. The weight limit that can be upgraded means hording will eventually catch up. Luckily, We Happy Few encourages the player to craft new items all the time and actively helps by simplifying the process in the menu. Lockpicks are made with a couple bobby pins, bandages are made with scrap cloths, and water can be purified with some bottled water, cloth, and charcoal. As mentioned earlier, eating and drinking is the key to survival, but it only becomes a legitimate hassle on harder difficulties.

Whether the difficulty is set to the easiest or the hardest level, the game has an extremely nice inclination of combat as those at the helm progress. The earliest interactions will take place in the Gardens and will see the characters facing off against the rejects of the society. Later on, the upscaled Joy enthusiasts will be massive whistle-blowers to bad behaviour and will force players to fight more armed individuals in more lavish settings within the city. A nice touch to the varying locations of Wellington Wells is that citizens of each district will respond more positively when the lead character is dressed in matching attire; for example, a simple suit is needed for the first village after the Garden district to better blend in with those who live there. They are not super luxurious, but they differentiate from the outcasts encountered prior.

Screenshot for We Happy Few on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

The thing most sought after in gaming is uniqueness. Players seek it out via emotes and customisation, while developers seek it out via their creations. We Happy Few is truly unique and the only game that feels somewhat relatable is Dishonored due to general gameplay. Aside from that, the world, back-story, main story lines, characters, and overall feeling of helplessly trying to survive in a society of psychopaths is one of a kind. Whether interest lies in the survival horror genre or the first-person action adventure, this is a title that delivers an amazing and heart-pounding 25+ hours. It's also noteworthy that a sandbox mode is coming to the game, but as of release it is not an available option. Hopefully, that means a lot of content post release.




Gearbox Publishing





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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