We Happy Few Gameplay Explores Drug-Addled Dystopia

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Retro futurism reigns! After a successful Kickstarter campaign, We Happy Few has invited favorable comparisons to BioShock, offering gamers entrance to a very different 60s dystopia across the pond. Rather than draw from the Fountainhead, though, this first-person survival game riffs on the counter-culture paranoia of The Prisoner, A Clockwork Orange, and other trippy British science fiction of the era.

Players assume the role of a “Downer” who starts refusing “Joy,” a mood-altering drug which makes all proper Englishman forget anything nasty that’s ever happened. Blissed-out pill poppers think heavies are decidedly un-groovy, however, so our Downer is quickly on the run from the establishment. We’ll note that everybody in this alternate history England wears creepy, smiling masks that are only a squiggle or two away from Guy Fawkes’ face.

We Happy Few‘s developers just demoed the game at E3, and even this brief snippet of play manages to ooze drug-addled atmosphere and eerie flavor that’s just so appropriate to the setting. Watch on.

In this world, the squares get arrested by the freaks, and “tuning out” means abstaining from chemical consciousness? That’s exactly the sort of New Wave sci-fi that would’ve shown up in Dangerous Visions.

As players advance–and fight to scavenge supplies without freaking out anybody still taking their meds–our Downer follows a mystery that pushes the topsy-turvy satire even farther. Turns out, people take Bliss to forget the Very Bad Thing–a catastrophic defense that repelled the Nazi invasion of Britain. Well, presumably. Nobody knows what happened. Nobody talks about it. Nobody thinks about it. The secrets of this conspiracy will be exposed at the game’s release in July. Or maybe not. Somehow, it seems like even if our Downer escapes the grinning masses, the answers won’t ever be concrete.

Scared off yet? Or has We Happy Few got you intrigued? What other debuts at E3 have already got you talking? Hit the talkback with your thoughts, hopes, and fears. 

Featured Image Credit: Compulsion Games

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