Psychedelic Survival: We Happy Few Hits Early Access

Sure, you’ve survived the zombie apocalypse, the icepocalypse, the nuclear apocalypse, and even the mythical indiepocalypse, but can you survive in a dystopian ’60s English city where everyone’s hepped up on goofballs? We Happy Few [official site] launched into early access today so you can test yourself. I’m not usually one for survival-y games but I do like We Happy Few’s ideas of social-ish survival, where tripping townsfolk may leave you alone if they don’t realise you’re not off your tits.

So! Everyone in the authoritarian city of Wellington Wells is supposed to be taking their Joy, a drug that makes everything seem lovely and wonderful. The reality is far from that. Playing as someone coming off their Joy, players are stuck trying to survive. This means eating, sleeping, scavenging, sneaking, crafting, and all that usual survive ’em up stuff, but they can also try passing as someone full of Joy. Residents don’t like people who are ‘downers’ but waving, being friendly, and not behaving suspiciously may keep you safe. I like the sound of that.

The world’s procedural so each adventure can be different – and you can play with permadeath.

The full game will have a proper story but the early access version is missing most of that. Developers Compulsion Games expect We Happy Few will be in early access for between six and twelve months while they add extra content and gather feedback to shape the game.

If you want in right now, it’s £22.99/27,99€/$29.99 on Steam Early Access and on GOG.


  1. Zanchito says:

    This is how I feel about society, except the other way around.

  2. barelyhomosapien says:

    For all the personality it purports to have, the sad truth is you might as well replace the enemy’s with zombies and be done with it.

    I love the idea but the execution is currently way off the mark and it plays like any other survival game, with more passive enemies (at the start).

    • causticnl says:

      following that logic you can blanket *any* survival based game as a dead island clone. We happy few isnt that, its focus is to have a balance between conformity and blend in, and meanwhile take the opportunity to escape. it has less on combat (taking the violent approach will get you nowhere) and more the stealth approach.

      • barelyhomosapien says:

        But that’s the thing, I know what it’s focuses are meant to be and those attracted me to the game, the forced conformity, the hiding in plain sight stealth. But the game doesn’t deliver on those points.

        More concerning, the wandering NPC’s/enemies have none of the personality indicated in the trailer beyond their design. Sure they don’t look like shambling corpses, and they have a small number of repeating voice lines instead of groans, but they ultimately act the same way.

        • jonahcutter says:

          The Long Dark had something of the same problem. Beautiful and inspired art design. Immersive atmosphere. And wolves that behaved the same as reskinned zombies from any other game. The wolves of Long Dark don’t behave as much as wolves as they do as zombies, so the illusion is pierced and the immersion breaks down.

          • Guzzleguts says:

            I don’t know if this may have been true when you played it, but they are nothing like zombies now. They’re not like real wolves either, but that is something of a design choice. They’re pretty convincing as movie-style rabid animals.
            You can scare them off with weapons or fire, you can mollify them with decoy meat, and sometimes they just won’t attack at all. None of which is like game zombies.

        • Guzzleguts says:

          I haven’t played it, but my imagination pictured that the act of conforming should lead to increasingly inconvenient circumstances from a survival/escape point of view. Eg: the Joy takers are too high to care about food etc (lotus eaters) and get suspicious when the player prefers sustenance/safety to cavorting.
          The longer that you’re hiding in plain sight the tougher this gets, forcing you to find a way to slip off into traditional stealth for a bit. Time in solitude having depleted their resources, the player is then forced to re-integrate with society.
          I take it the game is nothing like this then?

          • barelyhomosapien says:

            No, it’s not. It’s a crafting/survival game with more interesting than usual art and design.

          • Kitsunin says:

            Might be wrong as I’ve only watched vids, but the impression I got is that “hiding in plain sight” means saying “hi” (pressing E) over somebody every X seconds, where X decreases when you are unhappy and increases significantly if affected by Joy. But Consuming Joy makes you more hungry/thirsty/tired. And that’s mostly the extent of it.

            That’s the impression I got though, dcould be a lot more to it.

    • Abacus says:

      I’ve had a niggling suspicion that the game is all presentation with not much new going on gameplay wise. Seeing ‘Orwellian’ in the video up top made me feel like a Downer.

      • Guzzleguts says:

        That quote was from IGN, who apparently don’t know their Orwell from their Gilliam

  3. liquidsoap89 says:

    Wow, I had no idea this was a survival game when I saw that E3 video. I guess I won’t be buying it then…

  4. G_Man_007 says:

    Like Bioshock Infinite and NOLF got tanked and explored each other one weekend…

  5. frightlever says:

  6. eclipse mattaru says:

    I first heard about this in some RPS preview and I fell in love with the art style and the story that the trailer hinted at; so up it went to the 1st spot on my Steam wishlist.

    This article pretty much destroyed every interest I had: Survival-based gameplay in a procedural world, together with that very nebulous “The full game will have a proper story” make it sound like a game mainly designed to wander around aimlessly, something that’s apparently a thing now but I will never understand. Also, I really dislike the idea of an early access version to “gather feedback to shape the game” –I fear what a game made to cater the cesspool that is the Steam forums could turn out like.

    • anHorse says:

      It’s not aimless, the kickstarter build (haven’t played EA yet) still had the goal of escaping the town

      What’s missing in terms of “the story” is the scripted segments that flesh out the world, the logic being that the devs want players to experience it all at once instead of in drips as each bit gets made.

      I’d heavily recommend waiting until full release because whilst the game has major potential it’s still pretty wonky, seems more like an Early Access borne out of a need for funding rather than one done because of something like a desire for feedback or a design suited to gradual updates ala Rimworld.

  7. fish99 says:

    Having watched a few streamers playing this a bit today, I don’t really get why it has permadeath, or what permadeath adds to it, since it’s kinda story/quest based. Just randomizing the layout of the buildings doesn’t give you much replay value if the quests remain the same.

    Reminds me of Don’t Starve in that when you die there’s not much incentive to jump back in.

    I imagine permadeath can be turned off though.

    • DelrueOfDetroit says:

      This article says “…you can play with permadeath…” Sooo… confirmed?

    • KDR_11k says:

      Yes, Jim Sterling’s video shows the new game options and one of them is a #switch for permadeath on/off.

    • Shazbut says:

      I’m going to guess that it’s because the game is very short

  8. Tuco says:

    Not really related, but I’d love to point that the incredibly charming Ghost Of A Tale entered Early Access in the same day and everyone seem to be criminally ignoring it for some reason.

    • frightlever says:

      That looks adorable, though I hate stealth games with a passion. Why isn’t it “Ghost of a Tail”?

  9. Chiron says:

    Your steam link is broken

  10. Robomonk says:

    I saw a few general playthroughs and it’s not something I’m looking forward to. Understandably the game is not completed yet, but I’m not really drawn the gameplay mechanics – collect-a-thon/crafting, traditional survival and combat system. I would rather they take out the whole food/sleep requirement thing.

    Though, what I like is that the main character is an office worker, instead of the usual tough guy characters.

    I was hoping it was more of an first person adventure game with a slightly different stealth mechanics. For example, imagine after taking the Joy pill, the dreary and broken world (including the people) turns to colourful, happy and “healthy”.

    So, you can switch between two worlds to blend in as you sneak about. Taking too much of the drug will make you see a weird trippy psychedelic world, but it won’t last too long or look too garish (otherwise it would impede on gameplay). Or you could see things that shouldn’t be there, like maybe a colour changing fish swimming about and talking to you. So, you can’t tell what is real or not.

    You can pretend to take the pill, but standing in front of some people like the Joy police will increase their suspicion. You can hide in places. Build relationships with the other people and let them hide you in their homes. They can even be taken away if the authorities find out that they are harbouring a fugitive.

    • Robomonk says:

      Whoops! They do have bits where the world changed after taking the pill. My mistake.