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Compulsion launches $200K Kickstarter for wacky British survival game We Happy Few

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

We Happy Few developer Compulsion Games launched a Kickstarter campaign today for the colorful, psychedelic survival game, offering pre-alpha access for some backers.

Montreal-based Compulsion is asking for CA$250,000 (about $200,353) to fund development of We Happy Few on Windows PC. Backers who pledge CA$60 or more will receive access to a pre-alpha build of the game.

Compulsion publicly debuted We Happy Few at PAX East 2015, allowing attendees to go hands-on with a very early version of the project. That philosophy of open development, and iterating based on community feedback, is something Compulsion wants to maintain for as long as it takes to make We Happy Few.

"We have a bunch of regular players sending us feedback about the new features we implement," said a member of the Compulsion team in a statement to Polygon. "We've been pretty pleasantly surprised at how quickly players pick things up; I'm pretty sure the community is now completing our sandboxes faster than we are."

We Happy Few, which is the studio's first game after the PlayStation 4 launch title Contrast, takes place in 1964 in the fictional English town of Wellington Wells. The entire town is addicted to a sedative called Joy, a drug the residents take because they don't want to deal with a traumatic event in the town's history.

We Happy Few - 5pm Patty Cake art 640

The player takes the role of a "Downer," a person who refrains from taking Joy. The Downers comprise an underground resistance movement that's trying to escape from Wellington Wells. However, the town's citizens don't take kindly to Downers, so players have to act like they're high on Joy in order to blend in. They must scavenge for food and supplies as they try to survive in this procedurally generated world.

Compulsion told Polygon that it has made some "pretty significant" changes to We Happy Few in the three months since exhibiting the game at PAX East. The biggest one is that the world now consists of multiple biomes separated by rivers, which brings more environmental variety to the game. Compulsion has also added new characters; progressing through We Happy Few unlocks additional playable Downers, and these multiple protagonists' stories will weave together. And the studio has made general improvements to elements like the combat, crafting and user interface.

"The development process remains the same — be open about what we're doing, and seek feedback from the people playing the game," the Compulsion representative said. You can watch We Happy Few's debut trailer below.