We Happy Few left a great impression at E3 with its new gameplay trailer. It isn’t hard to see why! While still colourful and vibrant this Orwellian dystopia wreaks of menace. The trailer shown at E3 really set the tone. I haven’t paid attention to We Happy Few prior to this beyond acknowledging the fact it is set in England rather than Planet America. Needless to say, I’m paying attention now!
The E3 showing was a perfect drop the mic moment for We Happy Few. Everyone came away pleasantly buzzing with excitement. The world of the game is condensed and established beautifully in just 4 minutes. Essentially, everyone is using a hallucinogen called ‘Joy’ which hides the grim reality they’re actually in. The protagonist has a hand in beating an animal to death without realizing. It’s pretty chilling.
The way the developers are playing with the vibrancy of colours in the game is very effective. It really emphasizes the difference between being on and off Joy. The technique is similar to the Tim Burton film ‘Corpse Bride’ where colour is used to emphasize the underworld from the overworld. The transitions are effectively jarring, one-second soothing colour, the next, encroaching darkness. While watching the trailer I can’t help but think of George Orwell’s book 1984. We Happy Few fits like a glove into that world.
Going beyond that trailer let’s take a closer look at the gameplay. I notice there is a crafting mechanic where you can create medical supplies, clothes, and equipment. You are constantly at risk of things such as dehydration or other people realizing you are a ‘downer’. Characters react appropriately to you barging into their ‘house’ (or rather the derelicts they’re living in) and tell you to get out before chasing you down and beating the stuffing out of you. You can fight back and even shove characters down stairs or flee by jumping through a window. Your limited stamina and the fact they can run just as fast as you causes real tension. You can search the bodies of citizens you incapacitate for crafting elements and such.
I’m impressed by the inventory system. It’s made of little dots that symbolise space. The items are different sizes, thus taking up more dots. I guess as the game progresses you’ll get more oddly shaped items that’ll increase the challenge. The clothing has stats too. Ironically, the one that stands out to me was ‘conformity’ which is meant to help you blend in. I’m still unclear on the actual objective of the game.
Are you just trying to survive?
Are you meant to free the dosed-up citizens?
Is ‘freeing’ them the morally correct decision?
They say ignorance is bliss- well joy in this case, but close enough. The Early Access release date is the 26th of July so we can only wait and speculate, but I urge you to check out the trailer.