First of all, I just wanted to say a huge thank you to the developers of the game and everyone who made this possible. I haven't felt this emotionally invested in a game since Abe's Oddysee in 1997.
Man, where do I even begin? I remember way back hearing about this game but not being interested as I thought it was mostly combat-oriented.
After seeing a let's play of it, I realised just how mistaken I was.
The atmosphere and story laid out to us in the very beginning of the game is fabulous. I get 1984 vibes and it reminds me of some of the Charlie Chaplin videos I used to watch.
I'm a sucker for subliminal messages and "seek and ye shall find" type storytelling. Naturally, I spent the first 40 or so minutes reading all the newspaper clippings. There was something clearly going on in this world, and the fact our protagonist is redacting them for a job made it even more interesting.
Then we go into the next room. Alcohol, pills not being taken, rotten fruit, and that this person has gone on "holiday".. Hmm.
Walking past a big glass window and seeing Jack on a building-sized projector was so cool. There's so much brainwashing going on. Something about the war... I wonder if the English lost and the remaining remain huddled in various districts, being fed Joy so they remain productive members and workers for the Germans, conveniently forgetting what's actually going on. Sounds far-fetched, but there's a HUGE amount of cover-up going on here, and I want to know why.
Anyway! So about the gameplay:
Over the past several months there's been all kinds of shitty bugs (as a fellow creative director for a game, I understand bugs are part of the process of creating new and eradicating old. It sucks, and keep up the great work!) that got in the way of quests and progression. In fact, last night was the first time I've "finished" the game. Got a bit emotional, but I'm glad to have made it this far.
(The biggest issue was the dumbest thing ever on my behalf though- I thought I HAD to have Joy at ALL TIMES and would routinely overdose. I had no idea it was the withdrawals that made me suspicious, and that coming off Joy 100% would make me blend back in, fine and dandy. Whoops.
The exploration part of WHF is so damn perfect. I love being able to take my time, explore every single house, loot every item, wander round and round until I feel like going on to the next area.
I like that I can gift people apples. One of my favourite things is cracking Bobby skulls and handing out apples like some Wastrel-esque Robin Hood. I would like to see bonus things happen for players that do no-kill runs, gift X amount of Wastrels their required items etc, like maybe developing a social status would grant players access to the underground tunnels to help them "fast travel" across different locations.
Each house and its inhabitants have their own story, and that means a lot to me. It paints a beautiful bitter-sweet picture of what's really going on. Who has it worse, Wastrels or Wellies? Being a Wastrel was a huge sigh of relief in that I could run around and do what I like without fear of withdrawals and curfews. But the hunger and disease really sucks. Being part of the Wellies meant I always had good food, better weapons. But so much sneaking and taking pills! I'm never taking mechanical parts for granted ever again.
I've notice a few audio bugs, especially with angry Bobbies that bark out all their "I'm about to chase you!" lines at one in infinite loop. It's kind of hilarious when four of them are chanting various words over and over, especially since some of the English accents for them are sometimes different regions/type of accents hahaha!! I wonder if this is a Wwise or Unreal bug? I've thought of switching from FMOD to Wwise as we use hundreds of varying SFX in our game and all the audio bugs we encounter are killing me. (Audio bugs should not crash our game.... but they do, and with great enthusiasm!)
We Happy Few is a great game, blending comedy with tragedy perfectly. It knows how to be serious and how to be fun and engaging. It incorporates a lot of types of play-styles - the hoarder, the executioner, the explorer, the lore enthusiast, the survivalist, and it's definitely moulded in a way that appeals to a more casual, relaxed audience of gamers too. I'm really looking forwards to seeing the difficulty options implemented!
So I'm suuuuper biased because I love retro-modern furniture interior and design. It's so good! More!!
The art style kind of makes me think if The Stanley Parable and Dishonoured had a child. Stylised forms and silhouettes for your characters, but there's a clean semi-realistic way the background objects have been made and textured. It really stands out.
I do think that the areas the Wellies live are much more well formed. The Garden District/Wastrel areas are much more blended and don't stand out much. I don't really know how to describe it- I think it's because there's a lot of rubble, old wood, grass, trees, repeat. Maybe there's more assets being reused across those areas? Or maybe you guys have blended everything so well I don't take notice of it. But TLDR I personally find the Wastrel areas a bit bland to explore visually.
The phone booths are some of my favourite things! I love the purple light, the dust particles, and the creepy "Nine... Number Nine!" I hear occasionally. I would LOVE to hear snippets of government conversation breaking in and out of the phonecalls if I listened long enough.
Narration and Storytelling:
Yeah I will write a novel if I go into what I love and why. You're all doing a fucking fabulous job, keep pushing your stories into everything they let you!
Ok I think I'll go now. But seriously. Thank you for making this game. I haven't been this engrossed in a game's story ever before. And it just happens to be combined with exploring other people's homes and lives. Being a nosy little shit is clearly my favourite type of playstyle and you've created something that ticks all the boxes.
<3 Much love to the team. Imposter syndrome is a huge thing amongst devs, so please take the time to take a step back and let it sink in just how much you've all accomplished.
Now just a quick little list of things I'd like to see added/improved
- Please add in even more newspaper stories! SO MANY MORE!
- Tons more phone listening-in content
- We need more Jack or I might just die
- More NPC clothing styles
- Will there ever be an option to see our protagonist in his current attire? Even if just in the item menu.
- (Can't wait to see the fixed subtitles, my current playthrough has *convulsion noises* stuck on subtitle loop lmao)
- Can the Safe pretty please hold more items? Even with a completely unlocked backpack I have no room to store things and I keep losing them due to the safe being stuffed full.
- Current health and ailment GUI system is awesome. I'm glad it was changed.
- Tons of animation and audio bugs, to be expected at this point so I'm not gonna harp on
- Maybe I'm stupid, but I had no idea I could survive in Welly areas without Joy and overdosed myself to high hell. If there's a way you guys can clear up that it's the withdrawals, not the lack of Joy that makes someone suspicious of you, that'd be awesome
- Considering there's a fresh batch of Bobbies around the apple tree each day, could you get the apples to respawn at the same rate? Nothing sucks more than killing everyone for only 1 or 2 apples.
- Gamebreaking bug: In Faraday's lab there's like a portal thing you can stand in. You can press a button to close the door (but only from the outside). Well, guess what nuffy decided to press the button and run in at the same time, getting permanently stuck. It's possible, I promise! Self inflicted problems are the worst
Thanks for reading my giant wall of text! Over and out.
- Abraham Lure