It feels like we’ve been waiting for the release of ‘We Happy Few’ for years. Well, to be fair, we actually have.
All the way back on 4 June 2015, Compulsion Games started a campaign on Kickstarter in an attempt to raise $200,000 to fund the development of the game. They smashed their target, with 7,433 backers contributing towards their final total of $266,163.
So far, so good – right? Well, wrong. As Australia has effectively just banned the game being sold there unless they make some changes. Ouch. In all fairness, for a game that is quite clearly centered in horror, this couldn’t be better marketing for them.
The Australian Classification Board has refused to give it a rating. Without a rating, there’s no chance of it being sold. Sadly, that’s the law.
On the Classification Board’s website, the reason behind it was pretty straight-forward: “The computer game is classified RC in accordance with the National Classification Code, Computer Games Table, 1. (a) as computer games that ‘depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified.'”
This doesn’t mean that the game will never be released in Australia, as Compulsion Games has asked the Australian Government to give them a bit more time to make the changes required so that they can pass this process.
In case you’ve not yet heard about it, here’s the full description of the game…
It takes place in October 1964 within an alternative timeline for Europe. In an alternative version of World War II, the Final Solution occurred several years before it did in real-world history, with catastrophic consequences for both Nazis and Jews, a revival of the second German Empire, and continued war across Europe, with that Empire successfully invading and occupying Great Britain and gaining control of the British Empire.
Britain surrendered and endured its occupation, which resulted in its contamination in a chemical-warfare experiment gone wrong, forcing the inhabitants of the fictional island city of Wellington Wells to do something terrible, subsequently filling the inhabitants with immense anguish and guilt over their actions. Seeking to forget what they did, the inhabitants invented a new hallucinogenic drug called Joy, which effectively caused all inhabitants to exhibit immense joy and happiness and suppressed all of their unhappy memories, but also caused them to be easily manipulated and decreased their ability to recognise moral and long-term consequences. Widespread use of the drug led to the city transforming into a dystopian society, with most of its inhabitants, referred to as “Wellies”, wearing a white “Happy Face” mask as a sign of their continued jollity. Those who were naturally immune to Joy were forced out of the city and into its wastes, becoming “Wastrels” who subsequently went insane after wallowing in their own guilt and being unable to forget what happened.
The transformation in the city’s society led to efforts to ensure all its inhabitants regularly used Joy, including lacing most food and water with the drug, and ‘Joy Booths’, telephone box-like Booths’ with Joy dispensers inside. Those who stopped taking it are dubbed “Downers” upon being discovered, pursued by locals and the city’s police who try to reintegrate the Downer into society by either force-feeding them the drug or calling in a Joy Doctor to administer a liquid form of Joy, provided both parties do not beat the Downer to death and the Downer does not escape. Furthermore, the city’s dystopia and isolation from the rest of the world after the end of the German occupation, led to Wellington Wells making resounding advances in technology, including Tesla-styled weapon systems, mobile power cells, and home security systems, all designed with 1960s aesthetics. While most buildings retain their “quaint English” exterior architecture and have 1960s interior styling and furniture, much of the exterior streets have notable differences as a result of the city’s transformation; some examples include Joy-related propaganda, red telephone boxes retaining their looks but with added red lights, and cobblestone streets with psychedelic colours.
It’s due for release this summer.