If you like playing games set in a dystopian future and packaged with good satire, then this game is just what you’ve been waiting for. We Happy Few, being developed by Compulsion Games, takes place in the fictional town of Wellington Wells and does a great job of painting a world which thrives in a 1960s-style backdrop. The citizens of Wellington Wells are required to take “joy” pills, drugs which make its users ostensibly happy; they forget all their horrors and, therefore, can be easily manipulated by game’s main antagonist, Uncle Jack.
The drug is essential to gameplay and without it, a player is forced to survive in a horrible wasteland. While under the influence of the drug, however, gamers are subjected to the psychedelic aesthetic of rainbow-colored streets and period-piece scenery. The stakes in the game are pretty laid out from the get-go: Go around without suspicion or be captured by happy-faced, masked policemen.
Its themes and concepts, to me, definitely resemble those developed in the Fallout franchise. However, the use of guns and violence in this one is noticeably toned down.
I asked Michal Hughes, who lectures on science fiction literature locally here at IUPUI, for his opinion on the game.
“The ‘joy pills’ sound a lot like A. Huxley’s soma from Brave New World. The painted faces too–playing on the Greek drama/comedy. And it looks like game makers are playing on The Purge movie franchise as well. LeGuin’s Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia comes to mind in that “one person’s utopia is another person’s dystopia”, especially when you see how she plays with that same notion in “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”.”
I would encourage gamers not to buy this game until it is fully released. At this point in its early access, the story is incomplete and the game warns that it has parts which may not function, properly. I had a difficult time scavenging for supplies as some of the gameplay lagged.
Look forward to We Happy Few and its full release when it comes to Windows 10 and Xbox One
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