Montreal-based Compulsion Games welcomes players to the eerie, dystopian, retrofuturistic community of Wellington Wells, a fictional city set in 1960s England full of absolute joy. The first-person game, with RPG and rogue elements, gives you a choice reminiscent of Morpheus’ interactions with Neo in The Matrix: Take a government-endorsed pill called Joy that causes hallucinations in its user so vivid it makes violently beaten sewer rats appear as a colourful piñata at a party, or refuse to down the drug and be outcast and targeted by the rest of your cheery comrades as a “Downer”.
Recently, the game received a fairly substantial update, allowing the player to perform such actions as using new objects as weaponry (rubber ducks, anyone?), changing method of combat and inventory, and map and looting area changes. Prior to this update, players were subjected to an ‘aimless wandering’ style of map usage (that is to say, as a player of this game in its Early Access Alpha version, it was more than frustrating.) The game is still listed as “Early Access”, meaning updates are being consistently launched for users on the regular. The developers are maintaining that the game will be in such status for quite some time.
All in all, I, like many other avid gamers and indie developer enthusiasts, had high expectations for this Kickstarter-fueled, twisted, psychedelic bad trip of an adventure, but I’m left with many unanswered questions and worry about how Compulsion will not only repair the fairly buggy and outdated player experience, but how they will distance themselves from other similar, more popular series such as Bioshock (a commonly compared series to this game), or other up-and-coming indie first-persons, such as NVYVE Studios’ P.A.M.E.L.A. or Incendio Software’s Discrepant. I would not recommend taking the jump into an Early Access purchase of We Happy Few to those who have had high expectations (*cough* Backers…) for this game, lest you prepare yourself for a bit of bug control.
Rating: 2 out of 5 Joy Pills. I’m not feeling the glee of Wellington Wells just yet.