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Pandora_Layn

Crazy Idea about We Happy Few plot

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It's been alluded to by those who were able to play the build at PAX that "something terrible has happened" and this is the reason that the Wellies have to take Joy. I don't know if anyone is familiar with the short story "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" by Ursula K. Le Guin, but I cannot stop thinking about this lately and feel that it is connected somehow to the We Happy Few plot.

 

Maybe it's the lack of children in the trailer coupled with the creepy fountain where a man, woman and child hold hands and spin in eternal glee. Maybe it's trying to think about something so tragic that would make an entire city (nation? world?) have to take 'happy pills' to forget and move on. For me this would have to be something involving children.

 

Wikipedia says "Omelas, a utopian city whose prosperity and success depend on the perpetual misery of a single child, kept locked beneath it in squalor and torture" ... though, maybe for Wellington Wells, it's not the sacrifice of a single child but all children. A deal brokered by Uncle Jack? Political figures? The extreme loss felt by those adults directly affected would explain their violent reactions to any "downers" or those who are otherwise unappreciative of the sacrifice made by/of their children.

 

What do you think?

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@Pandora_Layn I used to be an English major, literature and story are some of my favorite parts of gaming! Glad to see somebody else who enjoys a good read too.

 

It's true all we know is that something bad happened. My first thought was since it's set in the 1960s, it could possibly be related to World War 2, but your idea definitely takes it to the next level. The lack of children would make sense with your theory. I read an article about somebody who had hands-on experience at PAX mentioning some storefronts were obviously boarded up but painted over to look open, and that a guard beat a man to death in front of you near the start and then says he'll fetch a doctor and the guy would be right as rain.

 

It's obvious Joy was born out of necessity but led to the state society is in now. What could launch a society so deep into denial that they'd rather take drugs that negatively impact judgement and mood than face what happened? Your theory of a deal, possibly spearheaded by Uncle Jack, could be that! Perhaps World War 2 went very, very sour in this timeline and a biological weapon was launched that wiped out a majority of the worlds (or at least, Englands) population. Perhaps the people of Wellington Wells were left disparaged and in debt after the war, forcing them to negotiate with surviving foreign bodies for precious commodities. Food, water, youth.

 

I know at this point we can only speculate. Food and water seem to be somewhat scarce from gameplay reports, which would support the theory that sacrifices had to be made to procure what little people do have.

 

Uncle Jack is the curious point for me. What is he? A puppet speaking the word of hidden political bodies trying desperately to keep what they have left in tact? The ring-leader? Wellington Wells is going to be a very interesting city to explore.

 

The missing children could mean nothing and everything. World of Warcraft has child NPCs but they're unkillable. Maybe they wanted to leave children out of the gameplay mechanics since it seems at some points you may have to kill to survive, or it could have much darker influences. Maybe with Joy nobody wants to have kids. It's possible the catastrophe that wiped out a large portion of the population also left most survivors sterile. The people of Wellington Wells could be facing the extinction of the human race, which would make anyone want to take some Joy and forget.

 

All we can do is speculate, but that's one of the most exciting parts of storytelling! I'm going to have to read through The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin to get a better understanding of what you mean, but from what I grasp right now, I can say it would be a killer addition to the narrative! Definitely something that would take the game to the next level for me.

 

They mentioned books like Clockwork Orange and 1984 being influences. The scene in 1984 where the wife tries to kill herself but doesn't seem to recall why or feel anything about it comes to mind when I think of We Happy Few. That extreme denial of feeling ones emotions in the name of forgetting everything. And the teenage girl who was a bit different and ended up being killed by random kids her age going out shooting guns in the streets. I see 1984s influence heavily so far. It's been a while since I read 1984 so forgive me if details are fuzzy, but I see similarities between dystopian societies that are trying everything they can to avoid things that I consider part of the human experience.

 

Sorry for the wall of text! I can go on for hours about storytelling. TL;DR: Your theory is awesome, and plausible. I could definitely see this game being a critique on human behavior similar to Bioshock, but we'll likely have to wait for launch to find out for ourselves. I'll certainly be picking up a copy when I can!

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Great ideas!

 

The lack of children was brought into sharp relief in some of the videos I saw online. In one or two I saw a creepy looking "robot" that was about child size, but didn't walk...it was just gliding over the ground. (Now it could have just been a place-holder asset, but I liked it...)

 

I was thinking along the same lines - maybe all the children have been taken hostage. Or are being "re-educated"... And thus, as you said Pandora, why people could be so aggressive with a Downer; their kids are at risk.

 

So many cool ways this game could go!

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Well, I'm coming into this discussion a little late. but at the very least we might have a few more details about the game. I'm not too sure about the whole idea of the Wellies losing their kids (either by kidnapping or having to harm them themselves). I totally admit I could be on the wrong track, but here's my line of reasoning.

 

The game takes place in 1964, and it's been revealed that the Very Bad Thing the Wellies did took place while the Germans were occupying England during WW2. If they'd had to harm/give up their children, we wouldn't see people of a younger age. This is assuming the war ended in 1945 like it did in ours, granted. That would make the war 19 years from when the game takes place. If they'd had to harm their kids, we probably would not see Wellies much younger than maybe 30 or 35. They would be a bit up there in age. Of course, if the date the war ended has changed, it might blow my speculation out of the water.

 

Another thing we don't see are very young children or babies, and this leads to my own little pet theory: Wellies can't reproduce. Think about it: what could Joy possibly do to the townspeople's fertility? We don't know the exact effects, but certainly Joy could affect a pregnant lady and her unborn child. My guess is that Joy contains a type of contraceptive to prevent the Wellies from having kids. Which leads to another question: why would the Wellies be prevented from having kids in the first place?

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The lack of kids thing is interesting, since one of the devs did confirm there's a reason you don't see any children. Someone asked during a

and it's definitely intentional. I also noticed the Kickstarter page features an image of "The Village of Hamlyn" (as in, "Pied Piper of").

 

There are apparently 5 islands, so I'm not sure if there are no children at all or if they've simply been quarantined into some kind of Pleasure Island. However, someone else on the stream observed that if the war ended the same time it did in our world (about 19 years ago) most of the Wellies seem on the younger side -- maybe 40, tops. This is a problematic assumption because the models probably aren't fully complete (and such things can be tough to animate anyway), but it could be the inhabitants of Wellington Wells WERE children or teens when they did the Bad Thing.

 

The fact Jack is known as "Uncle Jack" also hints at some kind of paternalistic theme: it may just be to make him seem extra friendly, but if the secret of Wellington Wells has anything to do with family, such as parents ridding themselves of children/siblings of brothers and sisters/children of their parents, it may be that Uncle Jack is their surrogate authority figure.

 

Also, fun fact: Jack Ketch was a 17th century English executioner who botched some high-profile executions; his name became a euphemism for death or the devil. So there's that.

 

 

 

Re: Literary references:

 

In addition to 1984 and Clockwork Orange, WHF shares a lot of similarities with Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. It's sort of 1984 from the other side -- control via contentment rather than scarcity and obedience. The major parallel is the use of Joy; BNW has the synthetic drug soma, which is both prescribed and taken as part of their secular religion (re: orgy). People who were solitary or introspective were considered aberrant, and all thought-provoking art was eradicated. The protagonist was a "savage" who had grown up on a reservation outside the fauxtopia whose only reading material had been the Complete Works of William Shakespeare, and who (like the WHF protagonist) is the only one able to really appreciate just how bizarre and dehumanizing the society really is.

 

It's also, to a lesser extent, reminiscent of Fahrenheit 451 , especially the film adaptation. It's been like 15 years since I saw it, but it was made in 1966 and I recall the aesthetic as being similar, if more muted. I seem to remember the wife popping anti-anxiety pills like crazy, and there was an emphasis on watching screens as a way to dull your senses. (I'm sure there are more references that haven't been mentioned yet, but I don't have strong Dystopia Game.)

 

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What if these people were made sterile via radiation? Maybe a nuclear ending to ww2 did still happen. Another idea (and more likely IMHO) is that they are kept from having kids because they are starving. Resources are scarse,and everything is being used to keep the public from panicking (via these joy pills). Maybe there are elements of the supernatural at play here,perhaps the British pledged their children,and any yet born children to cthulu (or some other entity) in a last desperate bid to rid the Germans from their nation. If you think about it,rationing would be in effect,people would be subjected to Nazi concentration camps,systematic book burnings,and extreme cruelty to crush any resistance that did arise. Knowing the fate that their island will suffer,and the rest of the world,they make this sacrifice. In an effort to forget they create joy,and find ways to continue to survive;as people tend to do.It would be extra interesting if they had made this pledge to cthulu not necessarily meaning it,wanting it to happen but not understanding the results.TLDR sorry for the wall of text,basically sacrificing children (super sick I know) in order to avoid Nazi occupation of Britain via a pact with cthulu.

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@SyAlmans the devs have talked about how WHF is inspired by ideas in BMW. However, they say that Joy is less like Soma and more inspired by 'North American Happy Culture' (so Joy would be more like a Prozac pill) they seem to be pushing the idea that Joy is more a form of forgetting what's happened instead of controlling the population. If you're interested in reading more about what the devs are saying, it's in one of the threads in this section if the forum.

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@gametrenches after listening to an interview compulsion had at E3 yesterday, it seems that whatever has happened was caused by the actions of the Wellie population /government themselves rather than someone else as the interview states that they are using joy to forget about something terrible that they had to do. Because of this, I don't think there is supernatural powers at play (although this would be pretty cool if there were!) When you watch the 'Pied piper of Hamlyn' read by uncle jack, the piper is likened to Winston Churchill (through Uncle Jacks voiceover) which makes me think that whatever has happened was down to drastic action by the British government/authority in Wellington. It gives me the sense that while the Germans are the main antagonists of the events leading up to WHF, the greatest acts of horror were in fact carried out by us Brits...

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Potentially-It's hard to imagine The Very Bad Thing was worse than Nazi atrocities such as the Holocaust (though I guess it depends on what we mean by "worse"). It would make sense for The Very Bad Thing to be something akin to "We killed all of our children"-that would be bad enough to create a PTSD epidemic bad enough that I could see this society forming to combat it.

 

 

This society would probably have trouble with raising children. We'd need to know how Joy (a drug shown to not be especially great for adults) effects fertility, fetal development, and child development (an infant on Joy is a rather horrifying notion even if we assume no physical problems are caused-it'd destroy). Also, I'm not really sure how good Wellies are at parenting (probably not very good-they seem unattentive). Best case scenario: They had enough common sense to send their children elsewhere before starting Joy (it is after all, meant to tackle their guilt, not their children's guilt). Second-best-case-scenario: The drug isn't as bad as I suspect it is and/or they know the meaning of the phrase "Child Dose".

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Just so everyone knows, there are actually children in the game! Well at least in the start. In the first few minutes of gameplay, people can see a child waving at the protagonist after he was stabbed with a needle by a tall masked man. Immediabtly the masked man looks at who the boy is waving to and closes the blinds so we cannot see anymore. This is a big clue I believe, yet I cannot solve the puzzle.

 

Another theory I heard a lot about was that the terrible thing the Wellingtons did to the invading Germans was surrender! Joy is then used as a drug to pacify the citizens and make them believe they are at peace and all is well. Just a theory.

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I like Maxfang's theory. Mind you, it seems that the Wellies are voluntarily taking joy rather than involuntarily. Perhaps Wellington Welles is a place relatively free of Nazi influence as a result of selling out the rest of the UK?

Either way, it'd be kind of cool to have something like Nazi soldiers be late-game elite baddies (like if this society started to collapse due to the player's actions and the Nazis decided to move in). Though, I highly doubt that'll happen since the game's premise would go very off-the-rails at that point, and a flood of powerful enemies that don't care if you're on Joy or not would radically change the gameplay. This change could be cool, but it'd be kind of crazy and might risk rendering learned player skills a bit obsolete.

 

I do wonder what the soldier wellies are for, though. Perhaps they go under martial law at some point to stop the player? Or some kind of outside threat moving in?

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@Maxfang

That wasn't a child if it's the part I'm thinking of, that was one of Arthur's co-workers.

 

Children haven't so far been shown in game, but there's been a lot of reference to them; wall scribbles, toys, that one spoiler room in the old pre-alpha builds, Arthur's audio flashback with the giggling, the train station in general for those who have clipped into it.

 

It's obvious that children are going to play a big part in the game, but as for being in now they're not around.

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I just wanted to say that The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas is one of my favorite short stories of all time. Nothing else to add, really.

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http://imgur.com/wC78mCU

 

I think the devs gave us a big hint at E3 with the gameplay demos. We now know that the Nazi Occupation Authority in place had orders to make sure that all children under 13 had to be "registered", and that this was before the Very Bad Thing occurred.

 

I have two theories,

1) This registration was a cover for the Wellingtonian government to commit the Very Bad Thing, which was to turn the country's children into a food source ( hence the current lack of children and the presence of Strange Meat).

2) The Wellingtonians made a deal with the Nazis, where the Nazis get to come and take Wellingtonian children to serve their purposes, and Wellington Wells gets left alone( but also cut off ) in exchange.

 

Both are probably way off but I don't have access to the game and the 26th feels so far away

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@lanblay90, just listen to the voices when Arthur starts having a flashback moment when he sees the article about him and Percy. It'll start becoming clear, really, when you piece those together with the articles, and if you've seen any gameplay the contents of the letters you find in the starting bunker.

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@Iris_Lockspur Thanks, don't know how I missed that. I went back and listened closer, was that a train chugging away into the distance? I've only seen the first two bunker letters, trying to find good gameplay videos that take the time to examine the environment has been tough. Can't wait to get my hands on it though.

 

Edit: Just saw you posted some, gonna check them out now!

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@lanblay90 Yes, that was a train going off into the distance. Based on some of the articles Arthur approves/restores and the audio of the flashback, I agree that the registration was a cover for the Very Bad Thing. However, since they've cast an actor for Percy, I don't think the Very Bad Thing was turning the children into meat.

I did a little digging through WWII history a while back, and the only piece of Britain that was occupied by the Germans were the Channel Islands because they were so small that the government didn't think the Germans would even bother. But they did, replacing the islands' government with their own. Rebellious islanders were sent away to concentration camps (fun little coincidence: three plucky islanders managed to escape-sounds similar to three Downers we know of, right?). And while it doesn't seem that the Channel Islands are being used as direct inspiration for the world and story of the game, it's still something to think about when grappling with the mystery of the Very Bad Thing.

Based on things like this, all I can gather about the Very Bad Thing was that it involved sending the children somewhere else. Where and what that is, I don't know. And based on some propaganda posters scattered throughout the Garden District, I think it may have something to do with the Germans using the threat of the then Soviet Union to get Wellington Wells to agree to the Very Bad Thing. (Now I'm not so sure about the second bit-well, that's what happens when you go insane theorizing We Happy Few! :P )

Also, someone on either this thread or another one talked about Wellington Wells maybe being a "velvet-lined prison"? I think they might be on to something, especially when you consider the pictures/animations of soldier Wellies.

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@ArtzDeeva Well, there was an evacuation of English children during WWII called, "Operation Pied Piper." Perhaps they were sent away to spare them of the Very Bad Thing? And wow, that is one hell of a coincidence about those three escapees.

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Presumably the strange meat is soylens veridians simply because "mysterious cheap food source used to feed starving people living in a sci-fi dystopia" almost always turns out to be people. On the other hand, it turning out to be camel, walrus, or elephant would be hilarious.

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We now know that the Nazi Occupation Authority in place had orders to make sure that all children under 13 had to be "registered", and that this was before the Very Bad Thing occurred.

I'd like to point out that, according to death screen, Arthur was born in 1934, i.e. he was 13 in 1947 when the order was issued. Would he be considered young enough to be registered, I wonder?

 

Also, unless Percy is just freakishly tall, he's older than Arthur, therefore he probably wasn't taken away with other children (the audio flashback from E3 trailer seems to confirm that).

 

And now, here's my theory about what happened to the children:

Personally, I think Nazis were developing some sort of brainwashing technology for turning civilians on occupied territories into perfectly obedient war machines, so they rounded up the children in order to use them as lab rats (because a child's brain hasn't finished developing yet and therefore more susceptible to outside influence, or something). Having their children taken away was the last straw for the citizens of Wellington Wells, and they started a rebellion. The Nazis decided that that was a perfect opportunity to test the fresh batch of little soldiers of Wehrmacht in the field. And that's what The Very Bad Thing means - in order to drive out the invaders people had to kill their own children. Afterwards the Wellingtonians were naturally wracked by guilt, so, in order to forget what they've done, they had to resort to drugs, ironically, the same ones that were used in brainwashing their children.

 

I know, this theory doesn't dwell into the debate if the Nazis really were gone after WW2 supposedly ended, or who's running the show in the UK, or if the rest of the country is also a combination of ruins and Orwellian drug paradises, or how our intrepid protagonists tie into all that etc., but frankly I don't have any coherent ideas on those points.

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Jeez you guys have given me a lot of good stuff to think about, I am pretty well convinced that children = meat is indeed wrong. All the evidence pointed out to me plus just some more thinking means that would be a really illogical choice. I do like Iris's idea of "vacationers" becoming meat, can't wait to explore that co-workers office from the E3 demo a bit in the final game. It would be a nice dark joke if it was named V-meat for the "Vacationers" instead of Victory or somesuch.

 

That Operation Pied Piper and Peter Crill were a good read. I feel like there are so many sources of inspiration for this game. I love reading into these past events trying to hopefully glean a clue or find a connection, even if it's one of my own imagination haha.

 

 

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