Compulsion Games’ long-awaited non-VR tale of a dystopian society full of twisted, demented, mask-wearing authority figures, We Happy Few (PSN, Steam), finally releases at the end of the week, but the studio’s got a small taste of that world ready for consumption on PSVR right now dubbed Uncle Jack Live VR. There’s no word on a PC VR release at this time.
In the full, non-VR version of We Happy Few you take on the role of a small group of rebels trying to break free from an alternate reality 1960s version of England that’s controlled by drugged-up crazy people. Nothing is quite as it seems in this chilling world as everyone conforms to the strict rules set in place to enforce a false sense of happiness. It’s a really twisted setting that reminds me a bit of Tranquility Lane from Fallout 3 or the film Pleasantville.
As is often the case with VR snippets of otherwise non-VR video game worlds (Monster of the Deep from Final Fantasy XV, The Last Guardian, Ark Park, and DOOM VFR all come to mind) We Happy Few’s Uncle Jack Live VR isn’t much like the full game at all, but it’s a delicious taste of the dense, terrifying world that Compulsion has crafted in partnership with Signal Space Lab.
In Uncle Jack Live VR you’re a new producer on the titular character’s talk show: Uncle Jack Live. Using the PS Move controllers for hands, you’re in charge of which news stories he talks about that day and get to make several choices across the entire 10 minute experience. Simply existing behind the camera and watching things unfold is unnerving enough, but the way the short game flows and unfolds in such a dynamic fashion makes it all the more uncomfortable.
Here’s a live action trailer skit filmed as an example of the talk show:
It just makes your skin crawl, doesn’t it? Now imagine being the one behind the camera helping bring that twisted man’s vision for “news” to life.
If you pick the right stories, aka the feel-good happy stories, then you make him happy with your performance, but if you pick the “wrong” ones about bad things in the world, then he could eventually get so upset the show is canceled. That’s the path I took in my playthrough and I definitely recommend it.
With each subsequent unhappy news story I picked, Jack got more and more frustrated. He’d change the details of the story to make it about happy things. For example, one instance during the experience was “the well is closed for renovations and improvement” instead of “the well is closed because of a Cholera outbreak.”
In the world of We Happy Few the populous is medicated with a drug known as “Joy” that keeps them sedated and gleeful. Remembering to “take your Joy” is important, but you don’t want to take too much. During the broadcast an outbreak of “Downers” starts to happen, derailing things and forcing you to take matters into your own hands to treat the subjects with a blast of Joy gas into the studio.
At the end you’r so hopped up on Joy the studio fades away as you’re surrounded by butterflies, rainbows, and a picturesque view of the city down below. It’s a great effect.
From start to finish the atmosphere is thick and tangible in We Happy Few’s Uncle Jack Live VR and it made me want more. It’s too bad this couldn’t have been expanded into a full game or at least opened up to let players walk around the town and studio. That’s a lot to ask out of a free marketing tie-in, but what we’ve got is a tantalizing taste.
Once you finish We Happy Few’s Uncle Jack Live VR experience, there is an archive to explore with over 40 recorded episodes of Uncle Jack Live, selected songs from the full game’s soundtrack, and bonus material like trailers and animation reels. There are some nifty Easter eggs spread around the experience as well.
For fans looking forward to the full release of We Happy Few, this is an excellent primer. It really gets you in the mood of the game’s chilling, dystopian world and sets the tone for what is sure to be an unsettling experience. It’s a shame the full game won’t have VR support, but this is a solid free download for any PSVR owner.
Let us know what you think down in the comments below!