We Happy Few (PC) Review
We Happy Few is a master class on an engaging introduction to a game. It grabs the player with the simple immersion of the main characters’ job of editing what is and is not acceptable for mass consumption of news, and while heavy handed it enforces that something is strange in this world. The problem quickly becomes that the game expects the player to choose certain answers to choices that it gives them; this issue is persistent throughout—be it with combat vs. stealth or taking joy vs. seeing the world as it is.
The game has an unfaltering sense of place, mainly due to the strong story that carries it. This isn’t to say that there aren’t some oddities that pop up from time to time, as there will be with any interactive medium. We Happy Few goes out of its way to spend almost all of its energy on world building, allowing the player to become engrossed in an alternative dystopian past. While in these streamlined, almost walled sections, the game almost shines—allowing the vision to come through and cover the cracks be covered with the planks of a stylized environment that feels lovingly crafted.
But the moment that the walls fall away, and the player is giving any amount of freedom to move from one side to the other everything starts to fall apart. None of the systems within the game feel finished, with dashes of everything from stealth, to close combat, to survival, all of it breaks when too much pressure is applied to it – something that the game loves to do in the way of throwing the character into various situations that can only be overcome by attempting to properly utilize a system, normally to the same result of the player smashing into the challenge again and again until they finally clear it.
The majority of the game being open world doesn’t help most of the matters either, as aside from the mechanics there are sections that simply don’t feel finished either. There are entire areas that interaction via animations with the world don’t seem to match up correctly, places that it seems like there should have been an interactive door or room to explore, or even characters walking around. Other times there can be entire villages hot on the player’s heels, but as long as they cross a magical checkpoint everyone seems to forget about what was going on and simply walks away calmly.
The problem with We Happy Few is that it knew the story it wanted to tell but didn’t know how to tell that story. It isn’t fair to judge on what went wrong during the creation of the game, or what could have been done differently that might have made this a better game, but it can be clearly seen that this game is not finished. The problem lay behind more than just an unfinished game, as everything ends up feeling fundamentally broken in the end. No matter how well the game is crafted and how well the visual style has been crafted it isn’t able to sell it. We Happy Few fell apart somewhere along the way and wasn’t able to pick itself back up.