Video Game Review: 'We Happy Few' lives up to hype

Elliot Hatch
Game Reporter
Screen Capture by Elliot Hatch

“We Happy Few” grabbed the attention of many people. Who wouldn’t want to be trapped in post-war-dystopian-level-1960s Britain with only a semi-effective happy pill to get you through your day? Compulsion Games had a lot going on when developing this game, and many people feared the outcome. I, on the other hand, had my hopes rather high. Surprisingly, I was not completely disappointed.

This game is fun for many aspects of gameplay. Crafting is a fun skill in gaming. The game doesn’t depend heavily on this skill. This makes the activity feel like less of a chore. Gathering items becomes interesting and something you want to do to create a new— and often optional— item to complete your objective. I thoroughly enjoyed the little things impacted by taking Joy. Joy is a medicine that causes memory loss and an overabundance of fake, happy memories. Joy makes all the buildings brighten up into rainbow stripes. Each Victrola playing records perks up and the records become cheerier. All the little things add up to make the whole of the game worth it. The overall gameplay and feeling in the game were unique and entertaining, leading me to play hours at a time.

 Unfortunately, it isn’t perfect or what we hoped for. Interacting with Non-Player Characters, or NPCs, gets tiring really quickly. Every NPC is a carbon copy of one of the base five NPCs provided for cities within the game. Each one says the same things and looks the same. This makes the game feel boring and uninspired. This can leave the player wanting more.

The combat is also clunky. Every weapon feels as though it weighs a ton to your character, and the stealth aspect of combat isn’t much better. The combat feels incomplete, but that’s almost excusable because the game doesn’t heavily rely on combat or stealth.

 Combat aside, the controls of  “We Happy Few” are good. The Heads-Up Display, or HUD, is incredibly concise. It makes interacting with the town of Wellington Wells easy and fun. Each button on the PlayStation controller’s D-Pad is assigned a specific type of item. This makes the inventory easy to navigate and utilize. Stamina, health and other important character statistics are clearly displayed on-screen. This is nice because there’s no constant back-and-forth between the menu and gameplay.

 The HUD may be a saving grace, but it doesn’t really make up for the graphics and render distance in “We Happy Few.” I found myself staring at random signs and objects that were less than five feet in front of my character waiting for it to load. As I ran through the fields of Wellington Wells’ Garden District, I ran into more loading screens in a 30-minute period than I have in the entire play-through of “Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.” I shouldn’t be able to outrun the game’s ability to process the graphics. However, the scenery and atmosphere were a nice change. Despite the game’s less-than-perfect render distance, the art style fit well with the overall feeling of the game. The game feels comparable to “Bioshock” or the “Fable” series.

 I believe “We Happy Few” lives up to the hype, even though it has its faults. The Joy-induced scenery changes along with the witty commentary, making for an enjoyable experience. Even though the game had minor annoyances, I didn’t stop playing because of this. Compulsion Games has even announced a season pass to go along with the base game. This opens it up to more possibilities and more characters to work with, enriching the experience of Wellington Wells even more.

 “We Happy Few” gets a solid 7/10 from me. I highly recommend giving this title a chance for a new take on the classic open world role playing game.