Avoid packs of evil, drug-addled mimes in We Happy Few

We Happy Few is a creepy, newly announced game from Contrast developer Compulsion Games. The developer describes its setting best:

We Happy Few is the tale of a plucky bunch of moderately terrible people trying to escape from a lifetime of cheerful denial. Set in a drug-fuelled, retrofuturistic city in an alternative 1960s England, you’ll have to blend in with its other inhabitants, who don’t take kindly to people who don’t abide by their not-so-normal rules.

The trailer has more than a hint of BioShock and Brave New World as the creepily face-painted citizens of Wellington Wells pop “Joy” pills and menace the protagonist with household implements. It’s reminiscent of Rapture before the fall: A veneer of mid-20th century utopia belies horrific violence about to boil over.

That’s all we know about the game so far. According to a post on the developer’s forum, the project is still in very early development. Players will first be able to get their hands on with We Happy Few at PAX East in Boston. Afterward, the studio is planning on “opening up development to people who want to get involved. This means getting people playing the game early on, and pushing out constant content updates based on community feedback.” Presumably that implies some sort of early access release, but no particulars have been confirmed.

Compulsion’s last game, Contrast, is a puzzle platformer released in late 2013 for Windows, PlayStation, and Xbox consoles. It centered around a mechanic of leaping between the 3D, physical world and the 2D world of shadows. Although it received mixed reviews on release, no one could argue with its strong sense of style.

Although it’s got a very different vibe, We Happy Few also drips with its own sense of style. The community’s reception of Contrast inspired Compulsion to share We Happy Few much earlier in the design process, in the hope of tapping into players’ creativity and feedback to make the game better.

We Happy Few has no announced platforms or release window, but expect more details to come out of PAX East on March 6 through 8.

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