After spending a few hours with We Happy Few, I’m not entirely sure how I feel. Compulsion Games has strayed from survival and drifted towards story, but We Happy Few lands somewhere in the middle, and it doesn’t quite work for me so far. The game-play takes some getting used to. There are a lot of rules in Wellington Wells and the surrounding towns, and if you don’t learn them quickly, you’re going to have a rough go of it. The survival elements in the game feel like they often get in the way of the story, which is exceptionally slow-going as it is. I don’t want to have to worry about food or water or sleep while I’m trying to grind my way through one tedious quest after another just to learn more about my character or the history of what’s happened.
I find myself picking up everything I can, and only really needing a few bits here and there. Of course, as soon as I get rid of something I deem unnecessary, I desperately need it and can no longer find it anywhere. The damage mechanic in We Happy Few is incredibly frustrating as well. Your first character is squishy beyond all reason; the only way you can heal yourself that is semi-readily available is not very effective, and once you’re low on health for too long, a sort of death timer starts. Once this “countdown” begins, unless you heal yourself, you die. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t being attacked; it doesn’t matter if you’re near a bed where you could theoretically sleep it off; you just die, no ifs, ands, or buts. Aside from these game-play annoyances, the game itself is incredibly glitchy. People who are attacking you can phase through walls or suddenly get behind you via what I can only assume is teleportation. The cut scenes, which are your means of learning more about your character’s story, are always freezing – every single one. All in all, my initial assessment of We Happy Few isn’t glowing, but I still have plenty of play-time ahead of me. The ambiance and design are excellent, so I’ll keep plowing ahead to see if the game-play is redeemable.