After listening to so many various issues through the years, I truthfully didn’t know what to anticipate from the Compulsion Video games’ stealthy survival journey We Happy Few. Once I first began investigating the title throughout its journey via early entry on Steam, I didn’t pull the set off to see what all of the fuss was about. As an alternative of dropping money to see how the sport grew over time, I opted to attend for the complete retail model, which suggests I can’t actually touch upon the sport’s delivery as a supposed sandbox survival title to a narrative-pushed journey with some mild crafting, fight, and useful resource administration. Because it stands, We Happy Few scratches my itch for dystopian violence and satire whereas assaulting my senses with Terry Gilliam-impressed visuals and some moments of real emotion. That stated, the builders don’t execute all the things with type and beauty, particularly in terms of the sport’s stealth and fight mechanics. Fortunately, these moments are simply minor bumps in an satisfying albeit disturbing journey by way of tragedy and remorse. This story will stick to me for some time, that’s for sure.
You start the sport as Arthur, a light-mannered authorities worker who spends his days redacting newspaper articles — briefly, he will get paid to erase the previous. If it’s dangerous information, then it will get smothered in black ink. If it’s good or in any other case bland information — one thing that gained’t offend the plenty — then it’s cleared for consumption. You see, the individuals in Wellington Wells (which exists in a world the place the Germans efficiently invaded England through the Second World Struggle) did one thing fairly horrible again within the day, and it’s a stain on their historical past that they’d wish to overlook. To maintain these horrible reminiscences at bay, they started taking a capsule referred to as Pleasure, which turns the world into a colourful utopia the place they will, as an example, gleefully chow down on small animals they see as sweet. Nevertheless, horrible reminiscences have began seeping out of poor Arthur’s mind, inflicting him to recollect part of his life he’d in any other case wish to overlook. When he stumbles throughout an article about himself and his brother from way back, he can’t resist the urge to delve into his previous. Earlier than lengthy, all hell breaks unfastened.
Throughout his journey to reconcile his previous and find a lacking member of his household, Arthur comes into contact with some quirky people from his previous, together with Sally Boyle and Ollie Starkey, two characters you’ll find yourself spending fairly a little bit of time with earlier than the sport involves an in depth. Each characters have totally different traits, personalities, and movesets (Arthur can choke out unsuspecting enemies, for instance, whereas Sally must syringe to do the job). You’ll take management of the characters in response to the place you’re within the story; you’ll be able to’t change freely between them everytime you really feel like altering issues up. And though I finally most popular Arthur’s story to the opposite two — his arc appeared a bit extra heartfelt and real to me — it’s fascinating to see this engrossing world via the eyes of three totally different individuals. These aren’t easy “reskins” — Arthur, Sally, and Ollie are three very totally different characters, and every has their very own demons to exorcise.
Make no mistake about it: We Happy Few is a darkish, darkish recreation. Though the title’s artwork fashion suggests it’s extra of a cartoony tackle A Clockwork Orange or Brazil, the unsettling and downright horrifying secrets and techniques lurking inside the coronary heart of Wellington Wells is sufficient to give even the toughest of hearts pause. I’ll cease there to stop myself from traipsing into spoiler territory, however let’s simply say there’s an excellent cause the residents of this English city have determined to bury their previous inside a chemical excessive. Those that determine to kick the behavior and others for whom Pleasure not works are forged out of the town, pressured to spend their days in crumbling homes with their reminiscences. It’s an fascinating dilemma: Do you face and reside with the skeletons in your closet, or do you disguise behind a drug that may can help you reside in a fantasy world the place your sins are eternally locked away? The sport handles this story fairly properly, particularly whenever you get to see issues by means of the eyes of separate characters. Sadly, the gameplay doesn’t all the time sustain, and it fluctuates from nice to downright irritating.
As quickly as you escape from the tunnels beneath Wellington Wells, you emerge right into a world full of muddle, trash, and junk. To outlive, you’ll want to gather these things and style it into gadgets you possibly can truly use (scraps of fabric grow to be soiled bandages, bobby pins function lockpicks, and so on.). This implies you’ll spend a good period of time rummaging by way of bombed-out homes, trash cans, and anything that serves as a container. You’ll additionally have to eat, although wholesome meals isn’t very straightforward to return by for these dwelling on the outskirts of Pleasure-soaked society. Oftentimes, when your character’s starvation turns into detrimental to your survival, you’ll should nosh on a rotten onion or a nasty potato, which might have critical brief-time period unwanted effects in your character. And heaven forbid should you nibble on a hideous carrot coated in rot proper earlier than you need to sq. off towards a handful of nicely-armed adversaries. Whenever you’re sick to your abdomen and affected by meals poisoning, swinging a shovel at your foes turns into a determined and futile act. It’s these harrowing moments when We Happy Few shines, although the fight system itself sometimes feels somewhat too unfastened and unrefined to do a lot good.
Particularly, We Happy Few tends to crumble throughout a few of its stealth sequences. Sure, typically you possibly can go in swinging and are available out victorious, however whenever you’re up towards, say, a whole squadron of aged troopers inside an previous army camp, it’s greatest to do some sneaking. Prowling round in bushes will help you keep in cowl, nevertheless it’s troublesome to inform which of them will hold you hidden. Some bushes and crops that appear able to maintaining you tucked away out of your enemies don’t work, although they’re thicker and denser than these that may. When it really works, you possibly can agitate the hell out of your enemies with rocks and darts and snicker when you damage their days. Nevertheless, simply once you assume you’ve gotten away, three goons will out of the blue loom over you with weapons raised — all due to a bush. I’ll be the primary to confess that I’m not the best at sneaking and stealth video games, and I’m conscious of once I suck and when the sport is working towards me. Sadly, I felt that We Happy Few spent extra time bending its personal guidelines to permit my adversaries to seek out me although I’d executed every part inside my energy to remain out of eyesight. Once more, this may be a consumer challenge — and I wouldn’t be in any respect stunned — however those that wrestle with stealth ought to needless to say there’s a excessive danger of unchecked rage in your future. This one doesn’t all the time play truthful.
So far as presentation goes, We Happy Few appears incredible. Though the ruins surrounding the Parade District (the world the place those that habitually and persistently take their Pleasure reside) look a bit of drab and similar-y, the sport takes an fascinating flip when issues get colourful. Watching the residents go about their every day lives whereas utterly blitzed out of their skulls by no means will get previous, and the artwork design recollects the work of Kubrick, Gilliam, and good ol’ 1970s psychedelia. However don’t let these colourful moments idiot you; when the sport must get nasty, it does so with a lot of shock and a good quantity of blood. It definitely doesn’t pull any punches, particularly in terms of the horrible acts the individuals of Wellington Wells dedicated up to now. A easy tour into an deserted residence may flip up lifeless our bodies or suicide victims. I encountered various individuals dangling from ropes throughout my journey, and contemplating the backstory, these moments paint footage which are troublesome to overlook. The world-constructing on this recreation by no means fails to impress, even when the gameplay muddies the water.
Though Compulsion Video games may hammer them out earlier than the sport lastly hits retail, We Happy Few does sport a couple of annoying bugs that do extra to disrupt the environment of Wellington Wells than break the sport. Greater than as soon as, I spied characters sitting by means of furnishings versus on it. Sometimes, the individuals I tried to speak to would start to repeat one specific animation, successfully locking me out of any potential conversations. And on a reasonably strong PC, the body price had a bent to dip throughout closely populated segments, however it by no means slowed to a completely unplayable crawl. Once more, these aren’t issues that might destroy the expertise and stop me from shifting ahead, however they do disrupt the immersion, which is essential if you’re enjoying a recreation full of a lot scrumptious environment. That stated, when you’re as much as your neck in Wellington Wells’ world, likelihood is you gained’t even discover them.
Whereas I completely loved my journey by way of the colourful and ceaselessly miserable world of We Happy Few, I can’t assist however really feel the sport doesn’t match collectively in addition to it might. The crafting isn’t overly spectacular, and making an attempt to maintain your characters from experiencing the ailing results of thirst and starvation look like afterthoughts. Luckily, those that don’t take pleasure in survival video games can nonetheless play by way of the story on “easy,” which can make issues like fight and satisfying wants take a backseat to the weather the sport will get proper. Even when the stealth mechanics don’t all the time work like they need to, I nonetheless discovered myself pulled into the world Compulsion has crafted. Positive, it might have in all probability labored higher as an easy first-individual journey recreation versus a stealth-survival title, however I’m prepared to put aside these missteps simply to immerse myself on this story. So long as you recognize what you’re stepping into and don’t thoughts stumbling your method by means of some extraordinarily irritating moments, it’s well worth the twenty or so hours you’ll sink into it. We Happy Few warrants your consideration, however perhaps not an excessive amount of hype.
This evaluate is predicated on the PC model of the sport. A evaluation copy was offered to us by Compulsion Video games.
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