We Happy Few, developed by Compulsion Games, looks really cool. It’s got a Brave New World and 1984 type vibe to it with the atmosphere and the drug “joy.” The problem is that the game isn’t finished. I’ve seen a lot of my friends share videos of the game on Facebook and even tag me. I’m beginning to think that people are unclear on what this game is and what it is not.
We Happy Few is a procedurally-generated, dystopian, survival game set in the 1960s England town of Wellington Wells. Some bullet points might clear up the things I think people are unclear about:
- The game is currently in Early Access
- Wellington Wells changes every reload.
- Procedural Generation means that experiences may vary. Think of the recent debacle with No Man’s Sky.
- There are supposed to be multiple characters you play as.
- There is permadeath meaning you can die for good like in Game of Thrones. Permadeath can be turned off though.
- There are meters to indicate hunger and thirst
- The drug “joy” is something you have to scavenge for
- The game is open world and not all of the narrative is currently in the game. For that matter, we aren’t too sure how the narrative will work upon full release. We know it will have quests though.
- You don’t start with a weapon and you might have to steal one.
- You can contract the plague.
- You have to eat rotten food a lot of the time, but there are pills to counteract the negatives of it.
Overall, the game looks like it will be good. It’s just that I see the game being downplayed as a survival game and more of as a narrative based game. While there is a narrative, it won’t be in the game completely until full launch. This brings me to the next issue.
Early Access is a problem. Early Access allows broken games to slip by Steam’s system and allows developers to rake in a lot of dough. You don’t have to look far for an Early Access game on Steam. There is at least one every day in the top sellers. A lot of these games are survival games and it causes me to worry about We Happy Few. The marketing seems to be up-playing it’s narrative, but downplaying the survival aspect. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea and might result in disappointment for a lot of people. I don’t want players to look at this game as others looked at No Man’s Sky. This game is no Bioshock as well, but has garnered many comparisons to the beloved masterpiece.
Early Access is an epidemic at this point. Too many games are releasing in this state and too many people are buying into them. I played We Happy Few for close to an hour and then returned it. The game needed tweaking. Compulsion Games came out with a patch the next day that tweaked some of the problems, but I will ultimately wait until full release. I don’t see how having this game out for a prolonged period of time will help its sales. You only get one launch and We Happy Few has used it. Upon launch I will be happy, but quite a few will have already experienced everything there was to offer. The narrative will be spoiled over time for Early Access adopters and will be dripped-fed resulting in a less satisfying experience. Many will counter this by restarting the story, but they may be sick of the game’s mechanics by the time that happens.
There are good aspects to the game being in Early Access though. For instance, players vented their issues with the survival system and Compulsion Games fixed the issue by tweaking the survival meters. They also tweaked the durability of weapons. Weapons used to break in just a few hits. This is great because it shows how the system should work, but since the game has a narrative the experience of the game will be a little marred for players who don’t wait for full release. I wonder if that will influence review scores. I’m going to guess that the game receives something between a 6.8 to a 7.8.
Overall, I’ve vented my concerns and explained a little bit about the game. Hopefully you know a tiny bit more about the game now. Make sure to keep up with Shoot Shoot Reload for more future content on We Happy Few and other games.