We Happy Few review | Ahhh to be happy. Isn’t that the goal of every living being? We Happy Few tries to make this a reality by giving you a drug called “Joy”. A simple solution to life’s problems. Taking your “Joy” pill will instantly fill you with happiness and see the world in a different light, making you forget all of your problems and worries. Set in a drug-fuelled, retrofuturistic city in an alternative 1960s England, you must hide, fight, and conform your way out of this delusional, Joy-obsessed world, where not everything is as happy and joyful as it seems.
ℹ️ Reviewed on PC | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer. Got unanswered questions about this game? Get in touch on Twitter!
What we Liked!
- Three stories that intertwine together | The best part of We Happy Few is its narrative. It has style, it has substance, and you give a damn about the characters and their plight. It’s rare to get such an engaging story in a video game like this. The hook here is that there are three separate stories all being woven into one. You play as three characters each with their own flaws and connections. It’s filled with dark humor, satire, loss, and even hope, each culminating at the end towards a shared narrative. It’s well-written and well-executed.
- The graphics | Let me just say, that this game looks stunning. It has a very quirky look to it for sure, with the characters looking a little uncanny, but beneath the surface, everything works so well together. The environments, the characters, and the individual locations all look great in their stylised way. It reminds me a little of Bioshock in many places, where the realism is left out, but still retains a lot of detail and charm. It’s certainly a unique style, and this really helps the game stand out. If you are a sucker for good graphics, then We Happy Few has you covered.
- The Audio | We Happy Few has a great audio landscape. Set against the backdrop of an alternative 60’s era, you will find budding tunes along these lines littered throughout the game. When you are on Joy, the world is full of positive, upbeat, and engaging sounds that will promote positivity and wellness. When you aren’t on Joy, then expect to hear the opposite. Dulcet tones and sad vibes will fill the air, matching the decrepit undertones of Wellington Wells. The voice acting is good with actors doing a decent British accent. The slang is well researched also.
- Choices | Take your joy, or don’t. The choice is yours! Taking your joy has its perks for sure. Taking it will make you more palatable to the inhabitants of Wellington Wells. You will see things in a different light, and walk with a huge smile on your face letting everyone know that your troubles are gone. You can even use telephone booths to dispense flavored joy such as strawberry or chocolate. Choosing not to take your joy, however, will result in the local authorities and inhabitants trying to catch you and force you to take it. The world also looks gloomier and less colourful, more akin to what it actually looks like. Since Joy is a psychotic, you can even overdose on it in-game to the point of ecstasy, eventually causing death. The end result ends in a rather clever propaganda report of how you have “gone on vacation” for an extended period of time leaving no one the wiser of your disappearance.
- Combat | The combat and progression within the game can feel a bit clunky at times. It feels like the game was designed more around the use of stealth as opposed to combat being a viable alternative. Enemies will quickly overpower you, with your own attacks feeling less effective. Usually, this resulted in flight rather than fight so that I didn’t wind up dead. Not only this, weapons break with ease, meaning you will be crafting time and time again to even stand a chance against the enemies when you are caught.
- AI | The AI could use some work. There were multiple times when I would get spotted by an enemy, but hopping immediately into a hiding spot would cause the enemies to lose sight of me. It seems a little goofy, but can also lead to some moments where the AI will get stuck right in front of your hiding spot just to catch you immediately when you jump out.
What we Disliked
- Identity Crisis | No amount of joy-taking can save this game from the clear identity crisis it suffers as you progress through the game. What quickly starts as a survival-based game, quickly turns into a linear-action open-world game that pads out the narrative and slows the really good intertwined story to a halt.
- Too many variables | We Happy Few has a lot of mechanics to adhere to. Some of these can sometimes feel like they are against you. For example, tools need power cells, and a nighttime curfew must be obeyed. Get caught outside during curfew and it’s almost certain death. Not only this but each area requires its own specific set of clothing so that you can fit in. Wearing incorrect clothes will draw suspicion. Flowers are to be gathered to create medicine instead of finding it out in the world normally. Some quests are time-sensitive meaning that you can’t take a stealthy approach if you wanted to, as the risk of failing is too great. Running, jumping, and climbing depletes stamina. Everything in We Happy Few is out to get you which, rather than providing depth, just makes the game a stressful mess, a mechanical slog, and distracts from its aforementioned great narrative.
How long to beat the story | 20 hours
How long to unlock all achievements | 50 hours
You’ll love this game if you like these | Bioshock, Contrast, Dishonored
If you are after a lengthy, well-written story that will have you lingering for more after it is finished, then We Happy Few is for you. Despite this, however, We Happy Few does suffer from too many factors that are always working against you. It is a game that requires patience and hard work and will drip-feed you pieces of the story, before grinding to a halt at certain sections.
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Gaming is in my blood. Be it handheld games, Xbox, PC, Switch or Playstation, I am all over it.
I make my own games as part of my profession and love playing co op games with friends in my spare time. Avid dog lover and camper van enthusiast.