When it comes to survival games, most developers opt for the good old fashioned zombie (or the occasional cannibal if you're The Forest), but with We Happy Few, the latest offering from Compulsion Games, the studio is taking a leaf out of Bioshock's book with a drug-fuelled descent into a dangerous society.
For the developer behind 2013's equally trippy Contrast, it was all about finding the kind of threat that plays on your psychological fears first and foremost. "I wanted to work with paranoia," comments creative director Guillaume Provost in the latest issue of Edge. "We looked at different games with the [survival] genre, and we wanted to create a society that was deeper than your typical zombie game, where characters just walk around and attack you on sight."
Since it's up to you to blend into the retro-futuristic 1960s setting of We Happy Few and discover the mystery behind this unsettling city, you'll need to convince the oddball inhabitants you're 'one of them'. But start acting out of character and you're fellow citizens will soon smell a rat. "They'll come out and call out the activity that you're doing that they find suspicious," adds Provost. So how best to avoid suspicion and put those minds at ease? By taking drugs, of course!
Yes, the game actually wants you to get high within the confines of its psychedelic setting - not so you can play the world's first hippie simulator, but rather as a unique means of stealth. "You get a visual effect for it, but it also reverberates around the way people see you and behave around you," says the creative director in issue 280 of Edge. "The problem is, it comes with a consequence. So while taking drugs is a way to level the playing field and lower suspicion of people around you, you're also going to go through a phase of withdrawal or overdose if you take too much."
Considering the strange city of We Happy Few is procedurally-generated, that pill-popping mechanic could well make for the trippiest game ever.