E3 2016: ‘We Happy Few’ Trailer Is ‘Bioshock’ Meets ‘Brave New World’

Unveiled at the Xbox E3 Presentation, the game takes place in a horrifying dystopia where people must take happy pills or get chased down by the cops

Last Updated: June 14, 2016 @ 10:12 AM

While the buzz leading up to the E3  Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles was mainly surrounding sequels to games like “Dishonored” and “Watch Dogs,” one new title revealed at the Xbox presentation has raised a lot of eyebrows.

The game comes to us from Compulsion Studios. It’s called “We Happy Few,” and it looks like a terrifying mix of “Bioshock” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.”

It takes place in an alternate 1960s England, where the populace has taken a drug called Joy to forget their traumatic memories of World War II, particularly a “Very Bad Thing” that they had to do to defeat Germany. Those who take Joy see the world as a brightly-colored utopia; but if the drug isn’t regularly taken, painful repressed memories return and the world returns to the nightmarish hellscape that it truly is.

The trailer shows all of this through the perspective of Arthur Hastings, a government worker whose job is to censor newspaper articles that have any unpleasant news. When his Joy starts to wear off, he chooses not to take another pill and begins seeing some messed up stuff. A police constable forces a syringe onto a protesting young man, who suddenly becomes calm and compliant once the drug is in his system. A birthday piñata turns out to be a dead rat, and his guts are the candy that comes out.

Eventually, Arthur’s cover is blown, and his co-workers realize he’s a “downer,” a person that refuses to take Joy. The trailer ends with Arthur getting run down by the cops.

Microsoft announced that a pre-alpha version of “We Happy Few” will be available on Xbox Games Preview on July 26. A release date has not been set.