We Happy Few – Easy Allies Review

We Happy Few – Easy Allies Review


Recently acquired by Microsoft, Compulsion Games
first announced We Happy Few in 2015, following it up with an E3 trailer in 2016 that painted
the picture of a compelling mind-altering dystopia. Now, after over two years in early access We Happy Few is here to get you high on drugs. The game is set in the fictional town of Wellington Wells in an alternate version of 1964. Without diving too much into spoiler territory,
the Second German Empire invaded years earlier, a terrible tragedy occurred, and now the majority
of people are given the mind-altering drug Joy to keep them from seeing the truth
of the grim world around them. The three-act story begins with Arthur Hastings as he rejects his daily Joy dosage
and sets out to escape the city. Later acts introduce two more playable characters: Sally Boyle, a high-valued citizen responsible for supplying the local police force
with their own special batch of Joy, and Oliver Starkey, a former soldier living off the grid. Each character has their own motivations
that drive them, and their stories eventually weave together
in an impactful way. The voice acting deserves particular praise, from Arthur’s remorse after committing murder
to the disconcerting broadcasts of Uncle Jack. The story is further improved by exploring
the unnervingly jolly city of Wellington Wells. It’s divided into a handful of notable districts,
each with their own living conditions, inhabitants, and secrets to discover. The Garden District is for Downers and outcasts while the Wellies live in drug-induced denial
in the nicer parts of town. Cozy pubs, comfortable homes, and slightly more sinister locations are satisfying to inhabit with an addicting consideration to detail. For as fun as the procedurally-generated city
is to investigate though, the illusion begins to fracture after a few hours. The city streets all begin to look the same, and the lack of unique character models
really takes its toll. Thankfully, Compulsion presents new locations throughout the journey to lessen the repetition. Light survival elements play a central role
in We Happy Few. Characters get hungry and thirsty,
requiring you to eat and drink. On normal difficulty, it rarely becomes an issue, with the biggest penalty usually relating
to a decrease in stamina. Each character has a separate skill tree
with unique strengths and weaknesses that can be upgraded with skill points
earned from missions. Arthur can run quickly and quietly,
Sally can craft an assortment of unique chemicals, and Ollie is a slow moving powerhouse. However, since the AI is laughably exploitable,
each character ends up feeling mechanically similar, and the benefit of maintaining your basic needs
rarely feels rewarding. Combat is simple and brutal. A variety of melee weapons like pipes, cricket bats,
and axes can be found or crafted to dispatch anyone
unlucky enough to quarrel with you. Enemies are far too easy to exploit
and can either be spammed to death or easily ditched, making the entire process tedious. Blocking makes you nearly invincible, and managing stamina ensures that no fight
is ever challenging. Non-lethal enthusiasts will have a slightly harder time, partly due to the weaker arsenal, but the same tactics still apply. Fortunately, the disturbing brutality of bashing someone’s head in provides a shocking stimulus that alleviates the tiresome encounters. If you want to avoid the unsettling violence,
stealth is a viable option. The basic elements are here, including lines of sight, hiding in tall grass, and disposing of corpses. You can also change outfits
to blend into the varying locales. Downers wear ripped up clothes,
city workers wear boiler suits, while Wellies wear proper attire. It’s an interesting mechanic at first,
but feels unnecessary and never pushes back. The three outfits can be swapped in and out accordingly, and once you understand which part of town you’re in, it quickly becomes a thoughtless routine. Drugs can be taken anytime for various effects. The most important is Joy which helps you blend in
with the Wellies and bypass Joy detectors unnoticed. Popping a pill triggers beautiful colors and rainbows
that last until the depressing withdrawal shortly after. Mushrooms also trigger hallucinations and are utilized
in one of the more memorable side quests, while other drugs boost different stats like Phlash
which briefly increases sprint speed. If you take too many joy pills,
they can harm your memory, but we took heavy amounts of drugs in our playthrough with little consequence. Any negative effects are easily manageable
by resting until the debuff is removed. There are also placebo drugs
that allow you to appear high without having to take Joy, but it’s another novelty
that feels half-baked and underutilized. The ramifications of increased drug use
are never truly felt. While the story and environments are interesting,
the same can’t be said about the missions. Most objectives involve fetch quests
that will have you running all over town. More significant side quests fair slightly better and offer darkly humorous insight
into the lives of townsfolk. There are also a handful of surprises we won’t spoil that make it easy to stay invested
in each character’s story. Players looking for an extra challenge
can tune custom settings to add permadeath. Plus those who want to continue
beyond the 30 hour adventure can look forward to an upcoming sandbox mode
along with three additional character DLCs. We experienced a wide range of glitches and performance issues throughout our time with the game. From small or humorous matters
like levitation and clipping to more painful setbacks
like losing 45 minutes of progress because a cut-scene and quest objective
wouldn’t trigger. The most frustrating problem though
is the texture pop-in because it detracts so much from the zany world on display. Despite a notable amount of bugs
and exploitable mechanics, We Happy Few presents an entrancing world to explore. Exceptional voice acting and interesting characters help alleviate the lesser qualities of combat
and repetitive mission objectives, but it’s overstuffed length and half-realized ideas
hold it back considerably. Easy Allies Reviews are made possible
by generous viewers just like you. If you like what you see, check out patreon.com/easyallies to help us make more. For just $1 a month, you can gain access to weekly updates, spoiler discussions, and exclusive shows.

100 comments

  1. This is weird. You sound like you’re giving it a glowing review, and then randomly it’s a 6. That makes very little sense

  2. Good review Huber. My only criticism with it would be the voice acting, as it's not really good. Maybe you aren't used to native Brit / Welsh / Irish / Scottish English speakers, but WHF sounds like a cheap soap, but I can see where this could be hard to detect for Americans.

    Still, stellar work, thanks for your great review style!

  3. One more week until shenmue 1 and 2 re-release….Micheal Huber is counting the days…..some lucky hit!?!? Please please Huber get a Ally that haven't played or watched ur GT shenmue 1 and 2 streams. U guys gotta get like someone into shenmue to get ready for 3….

  4. This was a particularly interesting trailer for Microsoft in E3 2015. It's a shame to see that this wasn't as well-realized as it could've been.

  5. I had high hopes, and after the reviews it seems that you will need some special mind alternating pills to enjoy the game.

  6. If I had an Xbox I would buy this for Full Motion Video Alone. I love FMV and it’s the least exploited strength in modern games.

  7. Also curious to know what happened to the 5 star rating concept, I kinda miss that but don't mind the 10/10 rating system.

  8. I call this "No Man's Sky Syndrome". This happens when a game from a relatively small dev gets WAY more hype than expected/deserved. The devs start panicking because they know that they don't have the game that people expect.
    In this case with "We Happy Few" the game was originally supposed to be an indie early access game for $20-30. The game would have been fine at that price point, It would have been an amazing stepping stone for the studio, but then e3 happened. The trailer was amazing, people got hyped up beyond any recollection of sanity, Microsoft sees it, buys them up and now an indie dev (not a AAA dev) has to turn what they have (not a AAA game) into a AAA game.
    It was bound to fail.
    Lesson: Don't make the trailer too good?… idk.

  9. I originally had this game on my channel schedule here in Australia, but removed it when I read a report that it was banned here due to "drug use". Then all of a sudden I see it show up on my store front here, anyone know what happened? Sounds like the report saved me some money either way…

  10. We Happy Few: Nintendo and Sony because they didn't buy this trash developer.
    Gamespot "We gave this 4 out of 10, one for every A in quadruple A gaming"

  11. Sounds like something worth checking out when it’s a bit cheaper and patched up. The style of this game still has me entranced, I just wish everything else had lived up to the unique world and art direction. Thanks for the review, Allies.

  12. So every red flag from the gameplay reveal turned out to be true and nothing has improved from the first early access build. On top of all that they had the audacity to raise the price and act like its a full featured release.

  13. "…to dispatch anyone unlucky enough to quarrel with you," Is the most Huber line I can imagine being written.

  14. This probably could’ve been something special. It has an interesting premise, but man the whole thing always looked so subpar an held back by relying on a gameplay trend. Seems they were overly ambitious and added wrinkles to the gameplay that were unnecessary.
    Now that the studio is with Microsoft I’m hoping they will make another new IP and continue down the Bioshock-inspired route it seems they were taking here.

  15. People act like this is a really long game made by a huge team with huge budget. I felt the survival and stealth fit in real nice with how story plays out. There is no denying it's a wonderful piece of work, and hope they make a sequel. One that is long using big team and big budget.

  16. I can see how Microsoft wanted this studio, their art style is something unique which reminds of Bioshock 1. Now that they have a bigger budget now, they have the potential to create a single player adventure game with some RPG elements on it.

  17. I want to enjoy this but the FPS on the standard Xbox One is absolutely painful and ruins the game. I might pick this up on PC when it goes on sale at some point.

  18. Yeah this could've been short, sweet and concise game but too many unnecessary systems and mechanics leave it unfocused. There's a drug that hides the truth from the player: should have just focused on that instead of 10 other things.

  19. I’m sorry if a games as broken as we happy few is it really shouldn’t get anything above a 4 should never have been released as the final product

  20. Having a blast with this game. I'm actually playing this and Shadow of the Colossus right now. I'm having more fun with WHF.

  21. Another game that fell short in the end. If only they could just fixed the gameplay, it would be an amazing game that has an amazing story (i.e BioShock).

  22. This game was pretty disappointing for me personally but I’m still very excited to see what this developer can do for Microsoft they have massive potential. Great review as always!

  23. I think the choice to make hunger and thirst not kill you is one of the main issues. The game should be forcing me into situations where I have to burgle houses to nick someone’s bread because if I don’t I will die. I’ve discovered I don’t even need to take joy anymore for any reason thanks to some of the stealth perks

    Doctors can sniff out people that are not on joy but when I have a perk that allows me to sprint without alerting people the doctor doesn’t find it weird at all when I run away from him when he’s trying to figure out if I need to take joy

    The food, water, joy and sickness mechanics need better fleshing out so that I feel more like I’m in a brutal world that can kill me in a multitude of ways if I don’t prepare my inventory appropriately.

    I understand the decision. People that are in it for the story don’t want to be distracted by a hunger bar but if you’re gonna make a survival game… then the world needs to be brutal

    I am enjoying this game but I cannot be one of those fans that pretends the game doesn’t have problems because hooooo boy it does

  24. MS money will help Compulsion a lot
    All the problems with this game could be easily solved if they had enough funds to grow the team

  25. Really doesn't help my perception of the game when the head writer says in an interview that the game is about how anti depressants are bad and we only share happy things on Facebook. Both these statements are simply untrue.

  26. After what the writer said about anti-depressants and how it inspired the story, I'm glad it's not a good game that I'm missing.

  27. I'm disappointed to hear they didn't polish out all the obvious bugs. Out of the gate, the game had a bad reputation for being glitchy and I was rooting for them to fix that for the final release. Based on your previous reviews, it sounded like you were about to give it a 6.5, but 6 is close enough, so I can't complain too hard. What upsets me more is that a lot of middle market/ less-popular AAA titles have been doing really poorly (Detroit, Vampyr, We Happy Few) with reviews, so it is a sad day for people who want variety from Western developers.

  28. IMO, this game was great. Of course there's a couple of problems but the postivie points pretty much.. covers the negative points. I really enjoyed it, espacially the storys. This game's just getting hates then it should be..

  29. I just used take downs on everyone and poked them with a pointed stick when they were down to kill them for good. The only things good I took from it was Athur's voice acting and lines – I really liked him as a character.

  30. Thanks guys. Dont watch IGN's reviews anymore, dont trust them plus their idea of a review means always spoiling the movie/game plot by explaining the entire story synopsis beat-by-beat.

    This game looks like Bioshock and Dishonored, so very shocked to see everyone dislikes it across the board :/

  31. This is a game I was pretty excited for, and it's disappointing to hear it's not delivering on it's potential. I still want to check it out even if it's just average, but I'll probably wait a bit and hope maybe they'll patch some of the issues and the inevitable discount.

  32. It seem like this game is only popular/successful due to it's asthetic; like the devs built this interesting alternate history story, then needed to build a game around it.

  33. Oh look! The game is shit, nobody saw that coming. Yet my friends will still buy it and complain about it afterwards even though I warned them. Same thing happened with No Man's Sky.

  34. Did they talk about the heavy bugs and glitches. I seen alot of this game being essentially unfinished. Almost like they didn't play the game first to check for these things lol

  35. I don't understand why they made the single players experience open world!? empty world with ridiculous amount of same looking npc, repetitive designs, and going running to each mission is just joyless. It is shame because the story was cool but I couldn't finish it because the fast travel system sucks.

  36. For all the critics out there that say this game is a buggy, unplayable mess. The game is being patched up as we speak. The game should be better in a week or two

  37. I had little or no expectations for this and that turns out to have been the right move.

    Another misfire by a studio that Xbox proudly announced acquiring

  38. The art style is a straightforward rip-off of the BioShock saga, and what makes this game worse is its dull gameplay. I think certain games are made without the target of making them fun to play in the first place, which is very common among devs with a low budget or a less creative team these days, but some indie devs still go for a take where great gameplay is truly valued.

  39. It looks like this one will go on the Gamefly list, instead of purchasing it. I was really looking forward to this too. When I first saw I got a Brave New World meets A Clockwork Orange vibe from it.

  40. Hey Allies – it'd be great to see a review of Firewall:Zero Hour – it's seems to have come a long way since PSX 2017 where you seemed to enjoy the demo despite the rough footage shown.

  41. This is what happens when you prioritize story over gameplay systems, mechanics, level design and polish. I don't care how good your story is, it could the best story ever written, but if it is a chore to play to get to it, then it has failed. Just imagine having to play ET or Superman 64 levels of gameplay to feel attached.

  42. Bioshock (The game we happy few is based on) came out in 2007, so why does we we happy few not look as good as an 11 year old game? The story makes no-sense as people would have had more children and wouldn't have wanted to drug them or everyone in the game would be over 40 and no-one would want to still live there.

  43. A bit sad… the premise could have made for a very intense, weird (in a good way) story-driven game. Instead, they went for size and quantity, ditching quality in the process.
    Also, I'm kinda sick of procedural generation taking the place of good level design. I'd rather play through a well-designed game once than run through a randomly generated one repeatedly.

  44. This game will still sell well because the edgy 13 year old "smoke weed err-day"-crowd will buy it because it's about drugs. Everyone know those types of kids. The ones who bring up the fact that they smoke in like every conversation.

    And I imagine Xbox fanboys will support it too now considering Microsoft purchased the developer.

  45. Procedurally generated maps? Crafting systems? Skill trees? Survival elements? An open world? Fucking disgusting. Doubly so given this was a crowdfunded indie game. The type of crowd who supports this stuff wants linear scripted games, not the same schlock big companies like Ubisoft shove down our throats day in and day out.

  46. I personally love this game! Its the first game in years that has truly captured my imagination and attention it reminds me of how much fun I had when I played Fable. My favorite thing about this game is how great the storyline is, I would honestly give this game an 8.9 myself.

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