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The Comenian

‘We Happy Few’ Review

Happiness is a Choice
Photo Courtesy of
Photo Courtesy of

Would you accept artificial happiness if it meant no more suffering?

That is certainly a loaded question, and I’m not here to begin a philosophical debate trying to answer it. However, the citizens of Wellington Wells in Great Britain answered that question with a rousing “yes,” and it led to the game, We Happy Few.

The game takes place in an alternate version of our world, where World War II went a little differently. In this world, Germany successfully occupied Britain. In order to have them leave, the inhabitants of the fictional city of Wellington Wells had to do something they dubbed “the very bad thing.” Haunted with immense grief and depression after what they had done in order to make the Germans leave, the people of the city began taking a drug called “Joy.” This hallucinatory drug caused them to forget their pasts and live every moment as happily as possible. Wearing masks that shaped their faces into smiles, the city became a hub for delight and glee. Or so, that’s what they want you to think…

We Happy Few follows three characters: Arthur, Sally, and Ollie. These three are off their Joy, and are able to see a 1960s Wellington Wells for what it truly is: a nightmare. For one reason or another, all three need to leave Wellington Wells, preferably alive. You see, anyone who isn’t taking Joy is seen as a “downer” and shunned from society. If they’re lucky enough not to be murdered by the citizens, they’re cast off to the garden district, where the other downers live, dejected and sad.

This is a concept I adore. The idea of a dystopian society where everyone is higher than The Beatles when they wrote Revolution 9 is so fascinating to me. The opening minutes of the game complement this sadistic idea extremely well. You start out as Arthur, who after seeing an old newspaper clipping, remembers his dark past, causing him to reject his Joy. As he’s coming down, he joins his coworkers for a party, where he sees them smashing a piñata. Right as they destroy it, his hallucinations stop and he sees it for what it really is: a dead rat. His coworkers begin devouring the “candy” left behind by the rat, as Arthur runs away in an attempt to escape.

Holy cow is this opening strong! It sets up the stakes very well, while also showing you how out of touch everyone is with everything going on. It clearly sets up this real vs. imagined world. If only the game stuck with it…

Beyond the interesting premise, the game is not good. First off, the game is a survival horror experience. However, the survival aspects are not implemented well at all. Your food and sleep bars drain way too quickly, and the skills you can acquire aren’t helpful in the slightest. Resource management feels clunky, and the only thing I found mildly interesting was crafting. To be frank, the gameplay is bleak. The game is not good in any aspect, whether it be stealth, combat, platforming (yes, there’s some of that), etc. 

The world itself is randomly generated. That means that you can walk past rows and rows of the same set pieces with nothing new to look at. It’s so boring that I’d probably have more fun watching Star Wars: The Phantom Menace on repeat for twenty hours. There are a few interesting locations, but they do not stack up to the sheer amount of uninteresting garbage there is.

Part of this game is blending in. To do that, you can take Joy to traverse areas without being outed. But wait, Joy is supposed to be bad! So then why am I able to take it with no consequences?!?!?! Also, all it does is place a shiny and obnoxious filter over your screen. The opening paints a false picture. You don’t get to see hallucinations of characters and set pieces, like the dead rat; all you get is eye damage from your screen. It stinks too, because this is a gameplay mechanic that could’ve really saved this experience…if it was implemented well.

The world-building is incredible though. The stories themselves are pretty good, and they fit into the world remarkably well. They nailed the creepy dystopian feel of the stories, just not the gameplay. Also, the developers created their own band to record music for the game, and I have to say that they did a stellar job. The band exists within the world, and their songs feel natural in the context in which they play. To be frank, all the music is engaging and implemented perfectly.

Going along with that, you’ll meet a person named “Uncle Jack” who serves as the face for all of the residents of the city. He is filmed in live-action, and the actor is phenomenal. He performs all his scenes well, and it helps bring a sense of realism into the bleak world.

But that doesn’t help when I’m having a bad time playing. It seems like the developers poured all their time and money into the writing and nothing else. I’m serious when I say that this game plays like a middle school band; you’ll want to do literally anything else. 

I will say that the DLC for this game is pretty good. It’s not amazing by any means, but I did have a much more enjoyable time with it than with the main game. They actually put some thought into the set and gameplay, which is nice considering that they didn’t do that to begin with.

Also, the game does have some truly unsettling moments. No jumpscares, but a few portions will leave you creeped out. However, it isn’t enough to say that this game is scary by any means.

Overall, this game does not live up to its concept. It has good writing, but nothing else. I can’t, in good conscience, tell you to try this game. If the sheer amount of bugs doesn’t make you rage, the gameplay will. It’s a shame too, because they were sitting on a pile of diamonds here. However, they didn’t dig deep enough, giving us only a taste of what could have been. If happiness is a choice, then do yourself a favor and choose not to play this game. 

Score: 4/10

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  • A

    A pro twitch streamerOct 15, 2023 at 8:56 pm

    I enjoyed it immensely. I enjoyed the game WAY more than this horribly written, dry, boring, unseasoned chicken article that is all over the place lol. Take some Joy.

    • S

      Someone with common senseOct 16, 2023 at 1:18 pm

      game is crap lmao. reviewer was too nice its a 0/10