I think it’s fair to say that there has been a great deal of hype leading up to this first hands on with Propulsion Games’ highly vaunted, Orwellian, drug-fuelled fantasy romp, We Happy Few, and based on the alpha build that was made available on early access, it would appear that that publicity has been almost entirely unwarranted. Why? Well, there are a plethora of reasons to be honest, its wholly inconsistent tone being a bit of a bug bear, not to mention its shoddy dialogue, voice acting and ill-conceived survival mechanics. Ultimately, it’s proven itself to be a bitter pill to swallow, but on the upside, there’s still a very long way to go.
For those that remember the last trailer touted by Microsoft, We Happy Few appeared to offer a taut, alternate 1960s London with a drug addled, emotionally manipulated populace, patrolled by a force of lanky, twisted looking bobbies. In it, the game’s protagonist, Arthur Hastings, whilst sitting at his desk censoring newspaper articles, stumbles upon a piece of news relating to a part of his past normally suppressed by the narcotic, Joy, that controls the emotional state of the user. Here, it presents the player with a choice, continue to live in perpetual mundanity (there isn’t really a choice, taking more Joy sees the game end there), or refuse to take the drug and roll with the punches, which come all-too fast afterwards, from seedy looking, wellington wearing wardens, to a piñata party that doesn’t result in a shower of sugary goodness and ultimately expulsion from the theatrically blissful section of society. At this point in the alpha, all is effectively as it should be, save for the characterless mutterings of Arthur himself, the world is how we all want it to be, bleak and aesthetically brilliant, whilst the perhaps all-too brief opening introduces some of the game’s most basic movement and combat controls. After this, however, the game takes a rather unexpected turn.