See Hints Of The Prisoner In Contrast Devs’ We Happy Few

Happy happy joy hoy

We Happy Few [official site] brings The Prisoner to mind. It’s set in an odd, colourful urban area where everyone is behaving strangely and some weird omniscient character sure is trying to keep you eye on you. While nonconformity in the classic English spy-fi show mostly got Patrick McGoohan a good gassing or drugging, it looks like We Happy Few’s protagonist will be met with a little more violence. I’d rather be bopped with a nice big ballon than be twatted with a shovel.

It’s the next game from Contrast developers Compulsion Games, the one they’d teased with talk of masks, drugs, and memory loss. Here, tell me this trailer it’s not Prisoner-ish:

It’s a carefully staged thing rather than gameplay, obviously. What the game actually is, I couldn’t tell you, but here’s what Compulsion have to say:

“We Happy Few is the tale of a plucky bunch of moderately terrible people trying to escape from a lifetime of cheerful denial. Set in a drug-fuelled, retrofuturistic city in an alternative 1960s England, you’ll have to blend in with its other inhabitants, who don’t take kindly to people who don’t abide by their not-so-normal rules.”

I couldn’t tell you when it’ll be released either. It’s an interesting one I’ll keep my eye on, though. Pretending to be normal is not a skill of mine, and mercy knows I could use the practice.


  1. LogicalDash says:

    I’m thinking first person sneaker? You know, Thieflike? With a…”disguise” mechanic where you have to, like, only step on bricks of the correct color, or bow to everyone who passes you, or something, varying by what area you’re in and perhaps other variables.

    Neat concept. I wonder if I just made it up right now.

  2. geekbabel says:

    Does anyone else get BioShock vibes? Definitely interesting. Hope it’s a game that focuses more on story than combat.

    • yhancik says:

      Strong Bioshock vibe indeed

    • Lars Westergren says:

      White masks, mind altering substances and strong period esthetics as in Bioshock 1&2. Cobbled roads and sudden menacing behavior from civilian crowds like in the early Bioshock:Infinite trailers.

      I did like the first two and the third was an ok game. If it is up to the standards of the first two I’ll buy this. But just like with them, I think this is going to be somewhat missed opportunity. Mainly a run & gun affair with mass appeal to recuperate development costs, and with all the carefully crafted backstory and beautiful environments eventually drowned out by monotonous action and gore.

      • Lars Westergren says:

        Re-reading this comment this morning, it sounds very negative. I don’t know if the gameplay will be like Bioshock, I just based it on the similarities and the “picking up the cricket bat” and the end. Who knows, it might be a puzzle adventure game!

        But as I said even if it is “only” a shooter, I might still get it. I really like the art style of Compulsion Games.

  3. Fnord73 says:

    Is it UKIP, the videogame? Where you pretend to be a nice cultural marxist in your everyday life, but secretly fight the jews behind the scenes?

    • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

      We kippers never even pretend to be Cultural Marxists.

      • Monggerel says:

        I keep seeing that phrase pop up (“cultural marxism”) and I haven’t the foggiest fucking clue why that’s a thing?

        Although neonazis seem rather fond of it, so it’s probably some type of shitty beer.

        • Monggerel says:

          Oh. UKIP is a thing in the UK.
          Right, silly me. I was thinking along gabergator lines.

        • Lars Westergren says:

          Pretty good explanation here. And yes, it is a phrase popular both among gaters and far right wing populists.
          link to

          • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

            That article is about as useful for neutrals seeking to understand the modern hard right as Mein Kampf would be for someone seeking to understand the 1930s hard left: not very. Any article which actually uses the word ‘conservative’ as a pejorative is never going to cut the mustard as an authoritative take on these issues, presupposing as it does that its readership comes from a very specific mindset of socialism=good guys, conservatism=meanie poo heads.

            I also don’t understand why Cult. Marxism (or the Frankfurt School, or whatever other label you want to give it) is described as a conspiracy theory, per se. Personally, if *I* were ever to get into a position of power, I would be banging the good ol’ Church & King drum non-stop. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch of the imagination to suppose that individuals of the hard left would do the same thing to prosetylise *their* ideology, after finding themselves in a similar position.

          • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

            As an addendum to my previous comment, I should add that I am not a neo-reactionary, and in fact considerably dislike fedora-tipping neo-reactionaries, as I am a good old fashioned bona-fide Christian reactionary. I just took objection to the tone and content of the article, since a.) it obviously looked at its subjects with an unbecoming contempt and b.) it missed out huge chunks of the centre-right and hard-right by choosing to focus on neo-reaction alone.That’s all.

          • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

            As an addendum to the addendum, I should note that the previous addendum (phew!) was referring to a comment which is as yet invisible, due to “awaiting moderation”. Must have been some flag words in it, I would suppose.

          • souroldlemon says:

            If i may concatenate a comment to the addendumary addendum, without seeing the original comment: i didn’t read that article as a criticism of conservative values or a description of people who are conservative in the sense politically right of centre.
            It read as a description of people whose main source of information is casual reading on the internet. It isn’t always possible to learn stuff without doing some thinking, and it’s cosy to join a community of like-minded vocal conspiracy theorists. There is an intersection between such simplistic beliefs and some narrow segments of the right, but there are also plenty of left wing intellectuals who are blinkered in different ways.
            You certainly don’t need to be right wing in order to be, for example, anti-feminist. The right to stupidity and ignorance are universal human freedoms.

          • pepperfez says:

            As for your (b), I think it was focusing on that one kind of reactionary politics for two big reasons. First, it’s utterly baffling to people who understand “right-wing” to mean “good old fashioned bona-fide Christian reactionary.” The other incarnations of the right are both more familiar and less nonsensical. Second, it’s neoreactionaries who’ve been pointing a gun at the tech industry for the past several months, so it’s more urgent to BoingBoing readers to figure out what the hell they’re on about. This last bit probably also explains the contempt.

          • WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

            Sure enough, but the OP was about UKIP unless I am not following. GG might have a strong element of neo-reaction, but UKIP does not. I don’t think very many kippers know anything about videogames, and redpilled fedorianism seems a million miles away from the Dad’s Army Conservatism that UKIP generally leans towards.

        • Hedgeclipper says:

          Its rhetorical dribble by the sort of people who think calling the other side ‘Marxist’ means they win, even if it has nothing to do with Marx.

  4. WhatAShamefulDisplay says:

    What game is this?
    We Happy Few
    What do you want to give me?
    A press release
    What do you do in this game?
    That would be telling. We want Bioshock vibes…Bioshock vibes…Bioshock vibes…
    You don’t get it!
    By hook or by crook, we will.
    Who are you?
    Compulsion games
    Who is your publisher?
    You, are our customer.
    I am not a customer, I am a SOFTWARE PIRATE!

  5. souroldlemon says:

    Totally The Prisoner. Optimistic excitement!

  6. Wret says:

    That nice big balloon was effing terrifying. I imagine contact with it is like every surface of your skin making contact with a Man o’ War, and then it decides whether or not to eat you (THE SCREAMS). Rover is a man-made Metroid, except you kill it with fire rather than ice.

    The trailer reminds me of finding your dad in Fallout 3, the VR Pleasantville. Actually yes that, Pleasantville, both the movie and the Saint’s Row 4 prologue sort of mission.

    • teije says:

      Please don’t mention the balloon. I had nightmares about it as kid. So as an adult, I now watch The Prisoner with my son. Good ole family traditions…

  7. Lars Westergren says:

    I know where they could get lots of great inspiration by the way. For more information, please re-read.

  8. Doc Revelator says:

    There are definite echoes of The Prisoner, yes. Also the 1989 Doctor Who story ‘The Happiness Patrol’. Given that that TARDIS made a cameo appearance in Contrast, then I think it more than likely that it had some influence.

    The game intrigues me.

  9. racccoon says:

    This looks like great FUN! :)