Drugs and dystopia in 1960s England: 'We Happy Few' hits Kickstarter

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Drugs and dystopia in 1960s England: 'We Happy Few' hits Kickstarter

We Happy Few takes place in 1964 in the isolated English town of Wellington Wells. On the surface, it's an ideal place, filled with smiling residents and all the conveniences of retro-modern technology. But Wellington Wells hides a dark and terrifying secret: During the German occupation of World War II, the citizens had to do something so awful that they devised a drug to make them forget their actions and guilt. The drug, Joy, makes the Wellies friendly and complacent, unless they encounter someone who isn't dosing; that's when they turn violent and beat any "Downers" into submission (or death). The town is on the brink of collapse and its residents are starving, but everyone keeps on smiling -- or else.

Gallery: We Happy Few | 10 Photos


We Happy Few is a first-person game where you play as a Downer trying to escape the madness by blending in with the happy crowds, crafting weapons and finding allies, and developer Compulsion Games is looking for $201,353 on Kickstarter to make this dystopia a digital reality. It's a twisted kind of stealth game, since players have to hide in plain sight. Plus, any players that approach We Happy Few as a classic video game -- randomly breaking into people houses or smacking people in the streets, for example -- will be immediately targeted by the smiling, but violent, mob. We Happy Few is a procedurally generated roguelike, meaning that every time you restart, the game will offer different environments and scenarios, and when you die, you lose all progress. It features three playable protagonists with three sets of skills, flaws and personalities, meaning each character also changes the way the game is played.

"Our stories are definitely Not Appropriate For Children, unless your children are already reading Neil Gaiman novels, in which case, good on you," the Kickstarter page reads. "But don't worry, it's not all frowns and sadness! It's also laced with dark humour, hope and even a spot of redemption."

We spoke with Compulsion's Marketing Director Sam Abbott in February, right after the reveal of We Happy Few, and he said that the studio wanted to focus on community feedback for its second game. Its first game, Contrast, was artistically stunning but suffered from gameplay hiccups. "The biggest thing we took away from [Contrast] is that working in a vacuum for a long time can be great, but we'd have made a better game last time around if we'd had more people playing it right from the start," Abbott said.

If all goes as planned with the Kickstarter, We Happy Few should launch in 2016 for PC first, followed by Mac and Linux, and finally consoles. Get a taste of the vibe in the video below and watch some live gameplay on Compulsion's Twitch stream today.

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