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Games The O.D. on Games

The O.D. on games: We Happy Few

Rulerofowls (ROW) was wandering in the howls of his massive dowlhouse, until he bumped into Harry Mowlnocle, who was supposed to be playing We Happy Few, but is instead wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and popping red Tic-Tocs while gesturing to other owls.

  • ROW: Hey Harry, aren’t you supposed to be working on the We Happy Few thing?
  • HM: Top of the morning, lad! It is a fine day indeed!
  • ROW: Yeah, it’s alright… So about that article?
  • HM: Don’t put your knickers in a bind, gaffer! I’m on top of it!
  • ROW: Why are you wearing a Guy Fawkes mask? Is it November the 5th? Are you watching V for Vendetta without me?!
  • HM: Don’t be silly, gaffer! It’s for protection, innit? Those bloody Bobbies are everywhere, checking to see if you had your Joy; better to be safe than sorry, innit?
  • ROW: What Bobbies? What’s an innit?! Speak sense you damn owl!
  • HM: Sure thing, gaffer! Just step into this closet here were no one can see us or hear us…

HM shoves ROW in a closet, pulls the string to turn on the light, not knowing that that was a thread which brought a very heavy box on his head. ROW flicks on the light switch and helps HM up.

Gonna hit the loo
  • ROW: Are you okay?!
  • HM: I’m fine!
  • ROW: Why are you acting so weird?!
  • HM: I was just lost in the We Happy Few attitude, and I guess this box falling on my head snapped it out of me!
  • ROW: Is the game that good?!
  • HM: Hell no! It’s that bad! If I’m going to enjoy myself while playing it, I need to submerge into what I like about it so I can go on without losing my mind from frustration and boredom!
  • ROW: Oh…Why is it bad, then?
  • HM: I don’t know, ask the freaking developers!
  • ROW: No, I mean why do you think it’s terrible?
  • HM: From where should I start? From the terrible technical state that has everything from pop-up issues to quest and game breaking bugs, a frame-rate that is more unstable than a one-legged chair, NPCs that float and constant loading screens, for a game that doesn’t look all that great to begin with!
  • ROW: Really? From the trailers I saw, I loved the art-style!
  • HM: Yeah, the art-style is great, but it’s immediately repetitive and it does not warrant this sort of technical and visual issues! Legend of Zelda BOTW looks much nicer than this, due to its style, and runs great on the freaking Switch, while WHF runs terribly on much more powerful consoles!
  • ROW: That’s a bummer! I was really excited to get immersed in that world and that atmosphere…
  • HM: Yeah, well get ready to be even more bummed out, because it turns out that the atmosphere, narrative and writing aspects of the game are excellent…
  • ROW: That’s great!
  • HM: But, playing the game and discovering that story sucks!
  • ROW: Oh…
  • HM: I think you could have seen this coming when a survival, indie game, was turned into-in just two years, I should add-an immersive sim, AAA game. Combat is boring, repetitive and unsatisfying; Stealth works in some situations, but for the majority of the game, simply frustrates and bores you to tears! Mix that in with the terrible technical state and you have a combination for insanity!
  • ROW: Yikes!
  • HM: But, the single-handedly worst aspect of the game is the Joy pill mechanic; it is undoubtedly the mechanic that had the most potential, but ends up being an infuriating disappointment! When being in a district with citizens on Joy, you also have to be on Joy for them to accept you and not attack you alongside the Bobbies! However, it is basically a really short timer of freedom and when it runs out, you’re basically screwed, unless you go out at night, which was supposed to be more risky, but is actually a lot easier!
  • ROW: Isn’t Joy the pill you are declining at the start of the game? That seemed like a huge deal…
  • HM: It is, but the way they made that system work makes it a non-choice with no real consequences! You basically have a meter of Joy, which feels up each time you take a pill and when it maxes out, you throw up and become vulnerable for a few seconds, before you go back to normal; you can’t decrease that meter in any way, so you are forced to keep taking the pills until that happens and you reset. Remember though, you need those pills to get around the 2nd district in the day, so you’re in this endless loop of taking pills and throwing up to reset that meter, which is annoying because it can basically condemn your stealthy approach to a mission, or cause you to fail it through no mistake of your own!
  • ROW: That sounds bad…
  • HM: Wait, it gets even worse! You can’t carry any pills with you, so you have to find a “Joy Booth”, or drink water that is contaminated with Joy, but it only works once; you have to get off Joy for it to work again! Basically, this means that if you go into a mission or the city during the day, and you are either almost full on your Joy meter or don’t have any Joy on you, you have to play a certain way to even stand a chance; all of this in an immersive sim, whose whole point is the freedom to choose your own playstyle!
  • ROW: Doesn’t sound like a lot of thought went into these mechanics and how they fit in to the genre…
  • HM: I don’t know about that, but all these mechanics would have been fine if this was just another survival game; the resource gathering and crafting aspects are fine, but the survival elements are inconsequential and baffling, because they add very little and take away almost nothing. But, had those elements worked like they originally planned-as part of a survival game-then, the mechanics would have made more sense, at least for me!
  • ROW: So, there’s no redeeming aspect to it? No saving grace?
  • HM: There is which is why I’m actually frustrated and disappointed with WHF! The narrative, world building and writing are excellent; the story is interesting with vivid characters with their own dark pasts and entertaining interactions; the world building is fascinating, with this “Clockwork Orange”-esque vibe of super depressing and disturbing stuff in a cheerful and colorful world, filled with interesting NPCs that hint towards a terrible past and a worst present; the writing is diverse and satisfying, with funny moments and thoughtful commentary, as well as well written dialogue, characters and quest lines. It’s not top of its class, but it provides great moments and an interesting narrative-all voiced with excellent VO acting and directing. It’s a shame I won’t discover the rest of that stuff by playing the game, but by watching it on YouTube!
  • ROW: So, you haven’t actually finished the game or intend to finish it?
  • HM: I have not finished it, but I do intend to keep going with it since I already bought the damn game and I am invested in the story and the cool side quests-or at least the ones that I can bare to finish! Whether I finish it or not, depends on how much more time I can stomach to put into the game.
  • ROW: So that’s your recommendation? To watch the story cutscenes on YouTube and not buy the game at all?
  • HM: No. Ideally you should wait for the drop of survival mode, which is probably when the developers would have had enough time to look at and repair most of the damage. That’s when it will likely be the most playable and have a hefty sale; as it is and with a 6000 owlians pricetag (60 euros for humans) it’s not worth it, but with the technical side “fixed” and some reworking done to the mechanics, at a sale of around 50%, that’s more acceptable!
  • ROW: Well, if they already announced extra content, then the developers seem to be backing this game at least!
  • HM: Well…that’s not entirely true! It’s basically them being shitty but not downright criminal! This game was crowdfunded on Kickstarter as a survival game back in 2014, but they since decided to make this AAA immersive sim, so they have to release the game that was originally funded so they won’t get sued! I haven’t researched the subject at any length, but on the surface it seems like a read dick move from the developers and the LEAST they can do is release the game they were funded to make alongside their own vision and they haven’t done that! The only way to redeem their selves is to drop the survival mode with a lot of improvements and fixes, that’s why I think when they do it will be a better game!
  • ROW: Okay, so this streamlined survival game that was going to be the basis for an immersive sim turned out to be bad; the original survival game is not there; and the only redeeming aspect of this shitshowl of a game was the narrative, but definitely not worth 6000 owlians (60 euros for humans). Oh, and the developers were dicks to their kickstarters, which resulted in them being bought by Microsoft! That sound about right for a summary?
  • HM: Yep, that works…
  • ROW: Great, let’s leave this freaking closet! Watch your head…

HM hits his head on his way out of the closet; he gets back up, wears his Guy Fawkes mask, pops another red Tic-Toc, says something British and starts walking funny while spouting incoherent British salutes. ROW sighs and walks away…

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