I've played We Happy Few for a few hours, got it to crash a few times. I believe first impressions are everything if you want people to keep playing a game, so here are mine.
- LOVED the intro. Give me more of THAT! It's interactive, you get to explore, it's weird, you can take in some of the back story, but are not forced to. You can got trough it as fast or as slow as you like... It's great.
- ...but then, I get kicked in the head, wake up in a bunker, and start wandering a square island with a strangely regular pattern of repeating buildings looking for berries and leaves... WTF. It's like I'm playing a completely different game! I understand that the story element is absent during alpha, but thematically, something is off. WHF lured me in with promises of dystopian weirdness with social awareness mechanics... and I'm playing a generic survival style game.
- Why, Oh Good God of the Games why, did you put a crafting mechanic into this? Why does every game except Tetris need a crafting mechanic now a days. It makes no thematical sense. Why is my character capable of crafting medicine from plants. Where did he learn that skill? How can pieces of scrap metal become a lock-pick or a crowbar? How is my character such a good tailor that he can turn a torn-suit into a perfect suit in not time at all with just some tread and some cloth?
- We establish in the intro that our character is disoriented, weak, submitted to authority... He is waking from a drug induced daze that lasted several years of his life... Then he's suddenly SurvivorMan, living off the scraps of the land, ripping honey from a bee tree like some bad-ass mofo... While still doing his constant and repetitive philosophal whining... It doesn't work. There is a clear character dissonance between what he is supposed to be and what he is actually doing.
- Why are crafting systems crap? No reason really, except that every game has one since Minecraft but nobody seams to realize that like every game mechanic, it needs to work thematically. Would Monopoly be better with a crafting mechanic? Minecraft was about crafting... What is WHF about? I would say it's about conformity vs non-conformity. It's about humanity vs drug induced bliss. It's about remaining sane in an insane world. It's about the crowd vs the individual. You don't need to make the player learn crafting recipes to tell that story.
- Removing the crafting mechanic doesn't mean removing the inventory. You need to pick up stuff (food, weapons, tools, etc.), to convey scarcity and empowerment. Having a world covered with junk that you can pick up can be a way of making it feel more interactive, even if the trash has little or no use. But by making every rock and every scrap of metal precious, you are actually making the world feel very "video gamy". I'm pac-man, running along corridors, and I need to horde everything, because everything is useful. And when everything is useful, nothing is... You are depriving yourself of the ability to place truly useful items in the world that the player will really want. Stealing becomes meaningless when you keep taking rotten fruit and scrap metal all the time. But if a guy has a crowbar, and you need that crowbar real bad, and the crowbar is awesome, then you build tension and conflict.
- At the beginning, you find a rock. I thew away the rock because: it's a rock. Who cares, right? Big mistake! Apparently, rocks are very rare in this world, and super useful for craft better weapons. How am I supposed to figure out what is useful or not if you are not following real-world logic? See what I mean by "video gamy"? Now if I find manure on the ground, I'll probably pick it up... who knows what it's good for! Maybe I can build a farm like in Don't Starve (which, by the way, as a counter point, actually has a great crafting system that work thematically).
- The island design of the world bugs me. Islands are the opposite of oppression and confinement. They make you feel like the word is huge and free. My character is supposed to be desperately trying to escape... but look at that large expense of soothing open water. Something is off. I know it's a challenge to build a procedurally generated world and not make the walls apparent, but you need to do better. You should try to make it all feel like it's part of a single city. Use barbed wire fences instead of cliff and sea. It will help maintain the mood.
- I've only been playing for 2 hours, and already the houses all look the same. Give me some landmarks damit!
- Everybody talks at the same time and I can't understand anything. My character complains while an NPC is giving quest information... I also have trouble distinguishing between my character's voice and the voices of NPCs. I can't always tell who is talking. The mouths are not always animated, but that could just be something you haven't finished yet.
- I get quests and quest updates before I even see what the game is referring too. I'm supposed to spy an a couple talking while I pick mushrooms? Where? Why? What is going on? Oh, I found the bee tree...? No I didn't where is it? You tell me I found it so it has to be close. I hate quest updates because I hate games that give me checklists like I'm doing the groceries and my girlfriend doesn't trust me to remember to get the honey. I KNOW I NEED THE HONEY, GAME, GO F*** YOURSELF.
- The inventory/crafting/message screen GUI is too "techie". I feel like a cyborg in a different video game. You need to make it work with the game aesthetic. Objects don't feel tangible. They are only icons that move from a cupboard to my iPad. In my mind, my character has an iPad with detailed biometrics, how else do you explain that GUI? My guy has to be a cybord because I just "upgraded" him with extra pocket bags :-)
- Days are too short. I keep thinking: I don't have time to read this letter that I found, I only have 5 min of daylight left to find some more scrap metal.
- Why can't I pick-up the kettles? Seems like a kettle would be a nice thing to have when trying to survive: it boils contaminated water, it carries liquids, and it's a weapon.
- I could not figure out how to refill my water canteens at the wheel... So my guy can make healing salves out of plant leaves, but filling up a bottle is just too complicated? Or maybe I'm the one who just can't figure it out.
- I'm a little confused about expectations of ownership in this town: how can taking a rotten apple from the wreckage of a house that doesn't have a door and where nobody seems to be living be considered "stealing"?
Ok, that's all for now. I really want to like this game. And I'm complaining because I know it's in Alpha and you are still fixing it.