Two years in early entrance saw We Happy Few renovate from a procedurally generated presence sim to a Bioshock-esque account drama, with reasonably schizophrenic results.
It presents an enchanting spin on a ‘What if a Nazis won a war?’ trope, with a beleaguered residents of illusory British archipelago Wellington Wells placated with a drug called Joy that creates them forget a horrors of a occupation.
When high on Joy, a universe takes on a unusual rainbow paint of an poison trip. Without it, we can see a hurt and filth sneaking beneath, glimpsing a republic in an strident state of post dire stress, unfortunate to forget some terrible tip about what happened to all a children.
We Happy Few’s influences – mostly ragged ostentatiously on a sleeve – embody Austin Powers, 1984 and Bioshock, with lots 60s psychedelia and ‘totally groovy’ characters; a cruel, sly government; and a ubiquitous ambiance of faded loftiness and existential dread. At a best, it asks enchanting questions about topics trimming from a emanate of fight to random pregnancy and mass medication. Unfortunately, on a really simple level, it’s equivocal unplayable.
The story is hampered to a indicate of sour disappointment by a presence mechanics, that feel like a bequest of a totally opposite game. You’re compulsory to change a array of meters, that frequently brings swell to a harsh halt. You competence be acid for your long-lost brother, though initial you’d improved quiver in a sewer, deliberately overdose on Joy, wait for a effects of withdrawal to wear off, and afterwards tip adult again, since if we don’t we risk sobering adult in public, causing everybody in steer to conflict en mass until we find a dustbin to censor in for what feels like an eternity.
Fighting behind is frequency an choice as fight is indolent and unpredictable, while a secrecy mechanics haven’t built many on a template laid-down by early 2000s Splinter Cell. It’s also a buggiest ‘finished’ diversion I’ve ever played; we had whole query lines blocked when characters refused to spawn, NPCs frequently writing by a ground, and an ongoing emanate that would means my console to hard-reset.
Having 3 playable characters in 3 apart acts introduces even some-more pacing issues; carrying leveled adult Arthur to a indicate where circumnavigating Wellington Wells isn’t utterly so many of a chore, it’s annoying to have to by a same vapid motions all over again. And afterwards again. Eventually – and this usually feels like trolling on a partial of a developers – we have to understanding with diabetes on tip of all your other presence meters.
This is all bad enough, though We Happy Few’s biggest impiety is spendthrift a potential. After building a honestly fascinating world, it afterwards requires we to repeat radically a same fetch query over and over again until we wish we could usually overdose on Joy yourself. For a diversion that explores a significance of agency, we have none. There are usually dual ‘choices’ in a diversion and they’re both usually throwaway jokes. How we act has no impact on a universe – in one query we can finish a array of basic tasks or murder a garland of aged ladies; your choice has no consequences.
It’s not like a studio has a miss of calm with that to try branching narratives – there’s during slightest 40 hours of diversion here if we kid adult all a discretionary busywork, including hours of cut-scenes. Condensing it into a 10-15 hour knowledge competence have been transformative.
Weirdly, once you’ve solved a game’s mysteries, there’s small replay value – there’s no presence mode, for instance, that seems absurd given a game’s origins. This creates a procedurally-generated elements of a diversion (the islands will remodel in opposite configurations any time we play a game) totally superfluous, suggesting it was enclosed in a final product since someone spent a lot of time and bid programming it in a initial place.
An enchanting grounds and lovingly crafted post-war dystopia make We Happy Few an enchanting curio, though one that will be many keenly remembered as a cautionary story about a perils of bad diversion design. The intro shade interjection We Happy Few’s 7,344 Kickstarter backers; they deserved better.