We Happy Few, the surprise indie hit from Compulsion Games, has been delayed until summer this year, the developers citing a greater “polish” being needed following a full review of the game.
In addition, Early Access sales will be temporarily frozen at the end of this month, and refunds have been offered to anyone who has bought the game on Steam.
We Happy Few, set in an alternate history version of the United Kingdom in the 1960s, acts as a combination survival, stealth and exploration game. The player is tasked with escaping a dystopian town utterly controlled through the mandatory medication of the populace with a psychotropic drug—simply called ‘Joy’.
Failing to take this drug results in the player being chased by freakish police constables who wear smiling masks, as well as being viewed with suspicion by the general populace as well. “Downers”, as non-Joy-takers are called, are usually beaten to death upon discovery.
However, taking your prescription is equally bad, the player being thrust into an overly-bright and happy world, in which dead rats are turned into pinatas, and worn-down streets are transformed into rainbow roads of brilliance.
This unusual premise was met with enormous enthusiasm by the gaming community, with the small 22-person team at Compulsion Games being thrust into the limelight during E3 in 2016.
The game was still working its way through Early Access during this stage, but was quickly snapped up by publisher Gearbox, which partnered with the studio in mid-2017.
It appears that not even Gearbox’s support has been enough to keep the title on-track, as a recent press release from Compulsion Games attests.
Which then brings us to the delay. It appears that not even Gearbox’s support has been enough to keep the title on-track, as a recent press release from Compulsion Games attests.
The developers cite difficulties in being stuck with a game that is still in Early Access and requiring frequent updates, as well as the increased scope that has come as part of their increased success: sometimes known as feature creep.
As a result, the game is not as complete as the developers would like.
“The team has built some amazing content, but we need more time to polish than we anticipated,” explains the release from Compulsion Games.
“We’ve done a huge amount of work and the scope of the game is substantially increasing over what’s there right now, which is a very unusual situation for Early Access games, especially as we have a retail release on the way. What you guys see right now is definitely not what we see internally.”
“So, we find ourselves caught between Early Access (where it’s important to have a price that reflects the current game) and the eventual release of the full game with increased scope (which we believe reflects a traditional retail game).”
The team has decided that due to these factors, game sales will be frozen until full release, and the studio is also offering refunds to anyone who feels that the game has not delivered on its promises.
Community reactions have been mixed, with some players disappointed in the decision and demanding more from the indie developers. Meanwhile, some other fans have taken to forums expressing their support, preferring to wait longer for a promised better product.
The game has also been through some controversy as a result of its acquisition by Gearbox, with some commentators (most notably Jim Sterling of the Jimquisition) being concerned that “AAA culture” will strangle the success of what is essentially an indie game.
What are your thoughts on the delay of We Happy Few? Would you rather wait for a better product, or get what you paid for now? Let me know in the comments below!