Xbox One Preview: We Happy Few

Are you off your Joy?

We Happy Few was first known to me when it was shown off at Microsoft’s E3 conference as an upcoming Game Preview, I was stunned with how it looked…a visual style like that of BioShock, with A Clockwork Orange theme. The intro shows a Redactor worker called Arthur redacting newspaper articles before discovering one about him and his brother Percy. There’s a clear traumatic incident that is unexplained here, but with Arthur sobbing for his brother we can assume he died in a tragic accident or worse.
Arthur reaches for his pills known as Joy, if you choose to take it then the credits roll and that’s that…so you don’t really have much in the way of choice, but after rejecting the Joy you are approached by a woman with a creepy ceramic mask on (which happens to be a popular look for both citizens and the police) and told that there’s an office party with a piñata down the hall. After whacking the piñata, you are covered in blood and you look down to discover it’s not a piñata at all…but it’s a rat and the workers are under the illusion that it’s body pieces are candy from the piñata.

It’s not long before they realise that Arthur is not on Joy and has become a “Downer”, after which security chases him and knocks him out before he wakes in a safe house in the sewers. How did he survive? I honestly don’t know at this point, but this is where the story aspect of the preview ends. What you get next is a look at a procedurally generated town called Wellington Wells.

The game is not like BioShock at all, but instead it’s more about stealth, melee combat and crafting/surviving. You will get side-quests and main quests like crossing a bridge to reach the next area, but you’ll need either a Power Cell to power the bridge or a copper’s pass to avoid the Downer detector. You will need to sleep to regain stamina, as well as eat and drink to keep alive…but rotten food and drink will make you ill for a limited time and has little to no effect on your levels so I’d avoid eating or drinking anything way past it’s expiry date.
As with ARK: Survival Evolved, it’s hard to tell what the quality of the final product will be as it’s only around 50% done at the point of the preview. I was impressed with the opening section and I enjoyed my time so far in Wellington Wells, although you can see it’s definitely a Work in Progress with it’s combat system, visuals, load times and the occasional bug/glitch. Apparently the finished game will have 3 playable characters and obviously a bigger story than what is here…I for one cannot wait for the final product.

On the whole, We Happy Few is an ambitious and clever game. In it’s preview form it is rough around the edges, but there’s plenty of good ideas and plenty that they can add as well as improve. I’m sure the final game will be something truly special and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.