Impressions: We Happy Few | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Impressions: We Happy Few

Tom Martin explores the long-awaited Orwellian inspired We Happy Few, releasing on Xbox and PC this summer

Put on your Happy Face! We Happy Few; Impressions.

We Happy Few is the sophomore game – behind their 2013 puzzle platformer Contrast -  of Montreal based company Compulsion Games. It will be published by Gearbox software – Perhaps known best for the Borderlands series.

On my first viewing of its unsettling cinematic announcement trailer, I was instantly hooked and truly excited for Compulsion’s We Happy Few… in 2015. Fast forward to two years later and I had all but forgotten about the game. In all honesty I thought the game had been released; largely due to the myriad of gameplay videos and ‘Let’s Plays’ widely available on YouTube featuring the game. You’ll imagine my surprise then when I found the game on Redbrick Gaming’s list of to-be-released titles in need of ‘Impression’ pieces.

It transpires that me being a PlayStation fanboy is perhaps what caused me to lose track of We Happy Few, which began on Kickstarter before it was released in early access for PC and Xbox One only in 2016. Since then the full version has suffered delays causing its release to be pushed back to summer of this year. On the brighter side – for gamers such as myself at least - the game will now receive a PS4 release (unfortunately all sources state the release date for this to be December 2018 instead of this summer).

In light of this I sought to reengage myself with the game, re-viewing all trailers, and I was once again reminded of the excitement I felt when I first viewed them. Visually, the games art style is beautiful and wacky. Set in a warped 1960’s era-England, Compulsion Games’ official website calls We Happy Few ‘the tale of a plucky bunch of moderately terrible people trying to escape from a lifetime of cheerful denial.’ If I were to attempt to describe it in the clearest sense I can it would be: A story by George Orwell, set in the landscapes of Bioshock, remastered by Tim Burton.

In fact, I cannot stress how much this game seems to borrow from Orwell especially. In the playable early access, one takes control of someone who works to ‘approve’ or ‘redact’ news dependent on its cheerfulness (I assume from context); this almost perfectly resembles the occupation of 1984’s protagonist Winston Smith. Also present in trailers and the early access is reference to ‘Uncle Jack’, an omnipresent figure head for the ruling party; very much reminiscent of the infamous ‘Big Brother’.

I do wish to clarify however my impressions are not that We Happy Few will be a straight rip-off of 1984. It is my impression that we will see these elements used and altered with twisted freedom into an intense, thought provoking experience for the player. In its gameplay We Happy Few seems as if it will explore multiple genres in a very unique way; there seems to be the overarching ‘survival horror’ of the protagonist’s journey to escape, however, it seems as if this game will go against many linear horror games and instead allow ‘open world’ exploration.

Overall, I can safely say that in re-immersing myself in We Happy Few, I have rediscovered what made it such an attractive game in its first announcement; a wacky setting, an engaging narrative, and thrilling gameplay. I am sure that We Happy Few will help us all find our happy face.

19, First year English and Creative Writing Student. Single handedly funds UberEats in Birmingham. (@tomallanmartin)


16th March 2018 at 9:00 am

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