I wish more games would dare to be different, like Compulsion Games’ We Happy Few. It’s uniquely challenging, thematically intriguing, and you should go throw your money at it right now.
We Happy Few is a first-person roguelike set in Wellington Wells, a quiet English city where everything is lovely all of the time… except that it isn’t. The residents are all drugged up on “happy pills,” keeping them smiling and carefree, and anyone who isn’t taking their medicine is dragged out into the street and beaten to death. As a “downer,” you’re trying to abstain from your medicine in secret, in hopes of eventually escaping the city.
Somewhere in Wellington Wells is a maintenance hatch that leads to the outside world. In We Happy Few, your goal is to survive long enough to find that hatch, all while hiding among the happy residents in plain sight. The catch? Each playthrough of We Happy Few is set in a new, procedurally generated version of Wellington Wells. No strategy guide can tell you where to find the hatch, and if you fail, you’ll have to hunt it down all over again.
I’ve often imagined how I’d make an open world roguelike if I had the opportunity to design my own video game, and so far We Happy Few looks like a drug-addled fever-dream come true. Even the title plays at my literary heartstrings. The words “we happy few” come from William Shakespeare’s “St. Crispin’s Day Speech,” which commemorates the loss of fallen soldiers. Meanwhile, the video above suggests that the residents of Wellington Wells are popping pills to suppress the memories of wars past. The guys at Compulsion Games are already theming us through promotional materials, and the game isn’t even out yet.
We Happy Few aims to raise $250,000 Canadian by the Fourth of July. For more information, or to contribute to the development of the game, visit their Kickstarter.