A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Takes place in a world where bright and happy moments are nothing more than a cover. People literally put on their happy faces to make it through the day, glad about their place in the world thanks to constant substance abuse. What's more, the reasoning for this is to cover up sins of the past.
Positive Role Models
Main "heroes" each have personal motivations that lead them to see through the colorful haze of false happiness, ultimately discovering the truth of their world and trying to cope with their knowledge or escape, forced to fight for their survival.
Ease of Play
The gameplay and controls are intuitive and should come naturally to anyone familiar with first-person action/adventure games. There's a lot to discover through exploration, and the combat portions feel suitably realistic. Keeping an eye on your characters' needs and crafting or scavenging essential items can be a lot to monitor, though.
Violence & Scariness
Characters use all manner of brutal attacks against each other, including beating each other with things like pipes and axes and using explosives to blow each other into meaty chunks. The game also portrays various violent scenes of murder and suicide, with bloody corpses strung about in some areas.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
No nudity, but some occasionally suggestive scenes, including a sequence showing some sadomasochistic behavior, with characters seemingly becoming aroused by beating others or being beaten with electrified batons.
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Frequent use of swearing including "f--k" and "s--t."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A central theme: how people have become slaves to a drug that maintains their happiness, leaving them imagining a world brighter and more colorful than it truly is. Characters also cope using other substances, including alcohol and other illicit substances.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that We Happy Few is an action/adventure game available for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles, as well as Windows, Mac, and Linux-based computers. A central focus of the game involves the widespread used of a drug that artificially provides feelings of happiness and joy to escape the harsh reality of the world. Drinking and substance abuse is shown throughout the game, as well as frequent use of swearing, including "f--k" and "s--t." The world of We Happy Few is also a violent world, with characters brutally attacking each other with a variety of weapons or using explosives to blow people into pieces. There are many scenes of bloody murder and suicide. Although there's no nudity in the game, there are sexually suggestive scenes, along with some sadomasochistic scenes where characters are aroused by beating others or by being beaten.
Is It Any Good?
It's disturbing in its subject matter, but this well-made, mature tale engages with its action and its world full of off-kilter madness. To paraphrase the classic Beatles song, the plot of We Happy Few highlights that "Happiness Is a Warm Drug." That seems to be the mantra for the residents of Wellington Wells. This dystopian "paradise" is a character itself, with a disturbing blend of charm and horror. It's both frightening and fascinating, where you watch people gleefully tear each other apart, cheerfully oblivious to the grim reality of their actions. One of the most stressful things about playing We Happy Few is simply learning to survive in this world. Unlike other games, it's not a matter of killing anything that moves. You've got to fight through some frenzied moments, but most times, you're just trying to blend in and hope no one notices that you're off your dose of Joy. Even when no one's around, you've still got to worry about survival basics like food and water. The game does a phenomenal job of drawing you into the experience and making you feel like your story is the same as the one the characters go through.
Gameplay can feel overwhelming at first, requiring a lot of attention and patience. But We Happy Few strikes a good balance of never quite feeling impossible, but also never giving you an overpowered sense of security either. At the start, any minor misstep can be frustrating, considering your character's lack of skills. Combat in particular is rough around the edges, which feels fitting since your first two heroes aren't trained to fight. This also encourages you to find ways to avoid fights wherever possible. Eventually though, as you begin to get used to the world, things become second nature. You settle into a groove of knowing when to eat, how to slip by unnoticed, and how to defend yourself when things go wrong. While it might be a bit disturbing and intense, you won't need a dose of Joy for We Happy Few to leave a smile on your face.
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