We Happy Few was this E3’s dystopian fever dream. Compulsion Games premiered a new gameplay trailer at Microsoft’s conference, where we met the drugged-up world of Wellington Wells, but not so much the game’s multiple protagonists and procedurally-generated world. Twinfinite sat down with Compulsion Games COO Sam Abbott during E3 to talk about the game’s characters, procedural generation, and just how these gameplay styles fit into such a strong narrative theme.
“You’ll always play as three characters, and right now we’ve only really spoken about one of them,” Abbott said. At E3 we played as Arthur Ernest Hastings, a newspaper redactor who chooses not to take the government-mandated Joy pills that keep the populace content and complacent. Government didn’t like that, nor did Arthur’s friends, so he immediately needs to escape the city’s joyfully violent inhabitants. Refusing Joy and escaping the city will be the general kickoff for all three characters, but “dying” will be where variation kicks in. Instead of reloading a save, players will restart in a freshly generated city and begin a new escape.
“The idea behind the game’s lore is that it was supposed to be permadeath,” Abbott continued. “The whole game was supposed to be permadeath, but this wasn’t really an option except for the hardcore. The idea was that once you get knocked out and fed Joy, you were thrown back into the system.”
“If you’ve read 1984, it’s very much the whole process where the guy gives up on life and just goes straight back into this broken, awful system. That’s pretty much the idea… you take joy again, they inject you, and you’re back in the system so you start again. You’ve got no memory of what the world looked like beforehand, so this is where it’s procedurally regenerated.”
Basically, you are under so much government mind control that you never have much of a grasp on reality, and if you ever get an inkling, it’s lost upon re-indoctrination. Cheery stuff.
You can check out our full interview with Sam Abbott here, or read up on our hands-on time with We Happy Few (and its surprisingly robust crafting system) here.