Step into the shoes of Arthur Hastings as he manoeuvres his way through an alternate UK in which citizens are dependent on a drug called Joy in order to keep their minds free from worry.
I’ve been watching the development for this game for a while now and whilst we have to wait until early 2017 to get a finished version to play; the demo that I played showed some really exciting signs for the game. Here are the top four reasons for why I – and hopefully you – are excited for the game’s release.
We Happy Few is set in an alternate imagining of the 1960’s. There are enough well placed signs in the early parts of the game to alert the player to a dystopian society not unlike Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty-Four; with our protagonist working in the role of media censorship. The game comes complete with a shady masked policemen and an off-putting omnipresent media which works successfully to implant this totalitarian system into your mind.
Whilst you could argue that dystopian settings in games are usually done in a heavy-handed way; WHF seems to have hit a good balance from what I have seen so far – and when it is done right, a dystopian setting makes for an awesome backdrop for you to delve into.
I’ve already covered one of the game’s themes- dystopia; however this is such an overarching one that you really have to look at the ideas surrounding it to get you excited. The choice to set the game during the 1960’s allows the developers to pay homage to the Cold War. I’m not expecting the game to address the Cold War head on, rather I expect that it is the feelings of paranoia and the fear of the unknown that were rife during the war that will be most prominent.
The anchor for the game is the featured mechanic of choosing when to take your Joy – the drug that helps you stay happy. This also brings in the theme of reality; as you take control over balancing the effects of withdrawal and keeping him sober enough to continue his journey without becoming dependent on the drugs once again. I’m hoping that if you let Arthur Hastings slide too far one way or the other then players will be treated to tricks and hallucinations until we lessen the dependency.
I haven’t seen any confirmed reports of what the story will actually entail; though I would suggest that the groundwork is in place for one that will keep you up until the early hours each night.
The game has incorporated some basic survival aspects which should develop the context of Arthur Hastings’s ordeal. What has made previous games like Alien Isolation and Don’t Starve so successful was that you really had no power to take on the antagonist – rather you could do just enough to get by. This is very much the case for WHF, as you are responsible initially for Arthur Hastings’s level of hunger, thirst and rest. As you progress through the game I believe aspects of survival will be about blending in rather than conventional survival (urban guerrilla survival or something like that). Your outfit will need to look nice, you will be expected to smile and show that you aren’t a downer. Much like the aforementioned game; I get the feeling that you will have minimal power in the game as you will have to rely on the drug addled minds of the surrounding citizens and your own cunning to survive long enough.
It Looks Great
The choice of design in the game has been a massive drawing point for admirers of the title. One thing that I really enjoyed was the design of houses on the loading screen. The way they almost sprout from the ground is very reminiscent of the style used in the Fable series.
The use of colour is of course a major decision in any form of design and it seems like the developers have taken care to make use of vibrant colours well as they do to emphasise the euphoric effects of Joy, whilst the harsh effects of reality introduce bland monochrome colours.
The character design is very much the focal point of the game, with designers implementing masks that are just bloody creepy for the Joy addicts of the game. The plain white masks and snazzy suits worn by the citizens of the reimagined UK create a surreal effect that grows quite unsettling quite quickly.
From what I have heard, it seems likely that the game will be released in early 2017. Obviously there could be numerous things that delay that or maybe even bring it closer. At the moment the game is being developed for PC and Xbox; though the developers have not ruled out a release for the PS4 at a later date.
If you want to know more about the game, go to www.compulsiongames.com. The Xbox Store does have a free trial that you can play right now. Or if you’re overly-excited and want to see everything the game has to offer you at this stage can get the Alpha version of the game for £24.99..