We Happy Few has peaked my interest from the very beginning. The dark, dystopian world of Wellington Wells had me drooling at the prospect of exploring what the game describes as ‘retro-futuristic 1960s England‘. Without spoiling the story for you, We Happy Few contains 3 narratives of citizens within Wellington Wells. They are all on their own journey, trying to overcome their pasts and cope in a world on the brink of collapse. You will take control of Arthur, Sally, and Ollie. In this article, I aim to give you my first impressions of the game and my experiences.
From what I have seen on Social Media, a lot of people are confused about whether this game is good or not. Reviews have gone both ways and not only that but they are extreme. Critics either love it or hate it. Although this piece is not a review, my first impressions are actually vastly positive with the game having its own faults.
I am around 7 hours into We Happy Few. Being a trophy hunter, my aim, along with enjoying the story and exploring the interesting world, is to collect trophies. My 7 hours is currently split across 2 playthroughs: one where I’m killing everyone and one where I am not.
As a note – my experiences have been from the PS4 version. We Happy Few is also available on Xbox One and PC.
The world of Wellington Wells is so unbelievably interesting. It is the perfect combination of dark and eerie with aspects of quirky colour. As you walk around you will come across abandoned houses, ruins, mini settlements and unique smaller locations such as cellars. There are no restrictions on your exploration. Each NPC suits the world they are in perfectly and act accordingly. Outside of ‘The Parade’ everyone is dreary and miserable such as the surroundings. You can tell that a war has ravished the land and the remnants of bombings are the initial things you can see.
Following on from this are the finer details within the environments. There are scribbles on walls saying ‘Today is not a lovely day’ or ‘What have I done?’. There are drawings of soldiers aiming guns at children’s heads and chalk drawings of people with their faces scribbled out. Houses that you can visit will become quite heartbreaking with messages on the walls, records playing songs that suit the situation and era-appropriate decoration. It does make exploration extremely satisfying. The music across the game is perfectly suited to the world you are in.
The concept of ‘Joy’ is completely unique and, at times, quite scary. ‘Joy’ is a drug that keeps the world in a state of euphoria and blocks out any negatives. Of course, the character you play rejects the Joy and now must face the consequences of that. Joy brings a mystery and a creepy aura to NPC’s. I’m not embarrassed to say that even the opening sequence freaked me out. Notes left around the world also detail experiences with Joy and how people are coping in Wellington Wells. They have all been interesting reads. I can’t wait to see this concept expanded upon in any DLC we may have in the future.
The combat is blissfully simplistic. This may not be a positive for everyone but for me, it is much appreciated. You have the simple block and hit mechanic. You can push people away from you to stun them slightly and there is a variation of weapons that you can loot, acquire from exploring or craft yourself. Your characters are not supposed to be martial artists so the combat system seems very realistic to me.
Voice acting is always a big one for me. Bad writing combined with bad voice acting is a recipe for disaster and with games, I really aim to be immersed in that world. Since Wellington Wells is based in England, everyone has an English accent. I am very pleased to say that the voice acting is terrific! Being English myself, I am no stranger to exaggerated stereotypes filtering into how our accents are portrayed. However, We Happy Few nails it perfectly. I enjoy every second of the cut scenes and I find Arthur’s character to be extremely likable and relatable.
Moreover, the writing and storyline as it stands are decent. I can see that a lot of effort has gone into making sure the story is interesting and that the writing is the perfect amount of humorous and serious at the same time. We Happy Few has its funny moments but also draws on dark, real life topics. I am still early days in the way of the story, as I am a huge perfectionist when it comes to exploration, but so far it has only gotten better and I’ve met some super groovy characters.
There is a survival aspect to the game which initially I was dreading but I have since changed my mind. Survival is not demanding in the slightest. Furthermore, food and water are in abundance. You will not die if you become dehydrated or starving because it’s actually more an emphasis on bonuses. If you look after yourself you will be given increased stamina for example. It is all up to you!
The difficulties are perfect and there are no huge spikes from if you choose easy or hard. Although, of course, more challenging, you will not find yourself pulling your hair out. The game is a pleasure to play on every difficulty.
When in ‘stealth mode’, so in layman terms… when you crouch, you can see the footprints of your enemies. This is extremely helpful. You can tell which direction they’re facing and plan your next move accordingly. With your skill tree this can even be heightened so you can hear them much louder. For someone who isn’t the best at stealth, I greatly appreciated this.
The extra activities you can do in the world are also a highlight for me. You can uncover ‘dig spots’ and side quests as you explore that can take the edge off when you want a break from the main story. It gives a good opportunity to earn skill points and acquire materials for crafting. From there, the crafting menu is simple to use as well as the menu as a whole. You can find things quickly and whilst in the middle of combat.
I would like to start by saying that I collated a list together on the first day I played this game. This was 1 day after its release date. When I have revisited today I have noticed changes in the way it plays which are very appreciated. I love that the developers are clearly interested in improving our experience especially considering how popular the concept is. I will still list my problems but will also highlight where it has improved. I am unsure if the changes have been implemented on other platforms or not.
Firstly, the brightness is one of the most frustrating parts of this game. It is WAY too dark. There are no brightness settings, well as far as I have seen, in the Options menu. I rely on the small highlight that happens if you hover over an item. However, this poses its own problems because the cursor doesn’t always pick up the item when it is directly on it. Sometimes it will pick up on it when the cursor is above or to the side of it. I did come across a torch but it ran on power and the game gave me no chance to loot more power cells… they just didn’t exist. So my ability to see what fleeting. This problem occurs when inside buildings and at night.
The brightness problem has been so bad at times I have had to just leave my game running until it is daytime again. Although you can wait if you find seats or a bed, which will advance time, there have been many occasions where there just hasn’t been that facility around. Being out at night makes everyone hostile so I’ve had to crouch somewhere and ride it out. Hours have been wasted due to this.
You are unable to fast travel from anywhere but instead, have to find shelters to do this. They are pretty far apart at the beginning so there is no chance of getting to a bed when you’re in the middle of nowhere. This can be frustrating but I’ve done housework in between so it’s kind of a bonus sometimes!
Textures and areas of the map hate to load. Unless you’re right up next to a sign or a poster, all you will see is a blur of colour. Trees, plants, people, buildings and pretty much everything has taken years to load. I have switched off to it now but it can be annoying especially when I am playing on a PS4 Pro. Also, initially I was getting stuck on everything, especially in buildings. I have noticed that the game is running a lot smoother in that sense and I haven’t had an occurrence yet today, but when you’re trying to walk through rubble and you keep getting stuck it’s infuriating. Especially when the jump mechanic is so exaggerated you can never see where you have landed.
I had found that there was a random black screen which occurred when I was exploring sometimes. It didn’t even happen if I was transitioning into another area, it happened completely randomly. I still have this problem happening but the black screen has been replaced with a Fallout-esque stand by broadcast screen. When I started both playthroughs I had problems with the ‘Act One’ screen which would keep bugging out.
Completing side quests can be frustrating as I have found on multiple occasions that once I have completed one it does not disappear from my map. It will be under my completed quests but the marker still shows. The same thing happens with ‘dig spots’. I will end up traveling to the same point because it does not disappear. Furthermore, it states in the tips for the game that you receive 3 skill points when you complete a quest and I have not been receiving this. It tends to pick and choose when it gives me the points.
Although the world is wonderful and as I have already stated, it is an interesting dystopia to explore, it can seem extremely empty at times. A lot of the world, in regards to where I am at the moment, is foliage with no real purpose. The trophy list hints at different islands so I have no idea yet at the expanse of land there is, I am still fairly fresh on the first location, but I only hope that the islands after this are filled with something… anything! The only saving grace is the actual buildings which always have their own quirkiness.
A lot of the NPC’s are very buggy at the moment. I have seen a slight improvement over the last couple of days but I did experience a woman sat through the floor underneath a chair today. I will not go on a rant about bugs as I am a Bethesda fan but it can mess up your experience a tad. Furthermore, the NPC’s where I am currently exploring seem to have the same face universally. The women ALL look the same except for maybe a variation in hairstyle. Similarly with the men, there seems to be one face with a small choice of hairstyles. Outfits for each gender seem to be limited to maybe 1 or 2 variations. This may improve as I progress further into the story and get to explore different parts of Wellington Wells.
The names of the NPC’s are also a big dark cloud for me. It seems that the developers have used perhaps an algorithm to automatically generate names to them. I’m not entirely sure but since each NPC that wanders around is so generic, they may not have seen it necessary to make them individual. A lot of them have the same names, first and last. Furthermore, I have regularly seen men given female names and vice versa. Although not a massive deal, it again, takes away from the immersion.
I am constantly over encumbered which I really cannot stand. Nothing I drop seems to make any difference and even when I have maybe 2 weapons weighing 7lbs each in my inventory, I am still battling to stay below the 100 weight limit. Too many have a weight and since crafting is a necessity, it is very frustrating. On the same note as that looting seems completely pointless. I have noticed today that chests have been a tad more rewarding but when you waste a lockpick on a chest and all you obtain are ‘loose screws’ it makes you question why you bother.
There are blueprints which help you equip cooler things which is fab but then there are also books to read. I still haven’t worked out where they are in my inventory or how to read them. The tutorial for them doesn’t explain how.
A lot can be improved when you go down my ‘Cons’ list. However, my two biggest improvements I’d like to see are:
A repair system for weapons such as Fallout: New Vegas. By this I mean, when you obtain two items the same such as a shovel, you should be able to combine them together to increase the durability. We Happy Few is much like Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in that your weapon will break. However, almost every weapon has the smallest bar of durability and will break in about 2 combat encounters. The repair kits you can craft do not work on weapons… I am yet to find out what they actually work on.
The second thing would be being able to craft a torch. You can obtain branches as a weapon so the next step surely would be being able to at least set it alight to form a torch. Since the electronic torch is worthless because there are never any power cells for it, a craft-able torch using materials readily available in the world would be incredibly useful. If this is a no, then I would beg for a brightness option in settings. PLEASE.
There you have it… my first impressions of We Happy Few! I know there are a ton of cons but it has not deterred my motivation to play and even get the platinum for it. I still enjoy it and actually, the story and world have been enough so far to keep me playing. The majority of my Cons are easily fixable and since I have noticed a change instantly today over yesterday, it seems the developers know this too. I urge anyone who is umming about playing to either play now or at the very least wait until it is on sale. Since we are on day 2 I am willing to give the game the benefit of the doubt and perhaps after reading my thoughts, you will too!
Anyone who has played I would love to hear how you are feeling and what improvements could be made. If you haven’t played but found this impressions piece to be useful then please let me know! Thanks for reading… now back to Wellington Wells.