Thursday, August 30, 2018

At least part of me is safe

I started We Happy Few last night expecting it to be aggressively terrible, a kick in the fellas in video game form. This may or may not make your day, but We Happy Few is, after a big ass patch, not nearly as bad as any of us have heard. It is a functional game that has more in the negative column than the positive column. In the three hours I have played so far it did not crash, there were no broken quests and it did not do me any bodily harm.

It's still a bad game but I can use the word 'game' and mean it. This is a sad tragedy, not an angry one, because the premise of a town that did something so terrible that it mandated drugging all residents to forget the past is a good one, it just needs a better home.

There is at least one thing that I can call honestly good: the way crafting materials are handled. Some small portion of We Happy Few still tries to be a survival game (even though skipping out on eating, drinking and sleeping will never actually kill the player, only make it more difficult) which means that picking up and hoarding everything not nailed down is to be expected. There is a limit on how much can be carried, most of which is taken up by weapons and food. Here is where it gets better: each fast travel location has a storage box. These boxes are all connected and crafting materials placed in the box can be used to craft things even when away from the fast travel area.

Need a lockpick and don't have any bobby pins? No problem, the hundred bobby pins in the storage box count. Also, if you try to pick a lock and don't have a pick a pick is automatically crafted, assuming that the materials are available. It is a fine quality of life concession that makes part of a game that I often find boring more or less acceptable.

On the other hand...

In every other open world game fucking ever icons on the map disappear when the task is completed. In We Happy Few there are dig points scattered around. It was on the map so I had to go there and clear the icon, only the icon does no go away when the dig point is empty. The same is true for quest markers. The map only updates on death. This is profoundly stupid.

Death is not near as bad as one would expect from a survival (not really) based game. Death is not bad at all. In fact the total lack of death penalty is right on par with BioShock in that enemies that were dead and items that were collection prior to death remain dead and collected.

We Happy Few is confused. It does not know what it is. It kind of knows where it started, a darkly humorous rogue like with a bit or survival thrown in, but almost all of that is gone. What is left is bloated and janky, a jumble of almost interesting environments filled with refugees from bad Morrowind mods. It has a stiff upper lip but is limp just about everywhere else.

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