Title: We Happy Few – Lightbearer DLC
Available on: Xbox One, PS4, PC
Developer: Compulsion Games
Publisher: Gearbox Publishing
Genre: Action-Adventure, Survival Horror
Version Tested: Xbox One
Official Site: Compulsion Games
Release Date: July 30, 2019
Different Feel to Familiar Material
The second piece of DLC for We Happy Few, Lightbearer, might be a definitive sign that Compulsion Games has found its footing. When the original game was first announced, there was quite a bit of hype. Unfortunately, the consensus from critics was that it fell short of expectations.
Some thought the title was going to be a BioShock kind of experience with a very different setting. Even after the title did leave most dissatisfied, there was enough there to make an interesting, if underwhelming, game.
Lightbearer could be held up as a sign that We Happy Few developers are getting closer to a winning formula. This standalone story has you playing as Nick Lightbearer, the famous guitarist we were first introduced to in the base game.
Nick has woken up in his hotel room covered in blood and not remembering a thing about the night before. While he’s unnerved by the blood and the apparent murder of his manager and best friend, getting out of the hotel in one piece is the prime motivating factor for most of the rest of the story.
Music Soothes the Savage Beasts
In the original playthrough of We Happy Few, players are left largely to fend for themselves. This means you have to find weapons to fend off the citizens of Wellington Wells and those weapons are few and far between.
In Lightbearer, Nick is immediately furnished with his guitar, which can be used to fend off crazed fans in a couple of interesting ways. You’re also given a pretty steady supply of drugs, the things that keep Nick mostly upright in this trippy story.
Yes, drug abuse is bad and it’s clear that’s the message this DLC is imparting, but using it as the central life-saving element of the game does quite a bit to give it an original spin on We Happy Few.
While there’s dark humor hidden in the base game, it’s more in your face in Lightbearer. This works well for the standalone story. It allows this to truly be new content, as opposed to more of the same. Most impressive is that while not every joke will land, it’s clever enough and won’t beat you over the head even when dealing with a talking rat scolding you for blacking out.
Less Open World Doesn’t Mean Lesser Content
The biggest difference between Lightbearer and the We Happy Few base game is the structure of the DLC’s story. While the full game is at least somewhat open-world, the content in Lightbearer is almost “on-rails.” You can still wander a bit here and there, but dead ends in snug hallways keep you on the path from beginning to end.
Even outside the hotel, blockades and “nothing to see here” signs are going to keep you moving in one direction. There are more than a few scenes where the player is meant simply to continue hitting “forward” on the control stick while Nick works his way through a drug-fueled nightmare or two.
This piece of DLC, in general, is quite a bit more story-based than the original. You will encounter enemies every now and then, even a couple of boss battles but the intent is clearly to get you to the end of the tale.
Whether that format is good or bad is up to the individual tastes of each player. Full disclosure though requires a warning that Lightbearer isn’t even a little open world. There’s no roaming the red-light district, no entering a side room. The positive impact of this structure is it’s tight and the compact story doesn’t ever feel stale or slow-moving. Roughly four or five hours long, you’ll be ready to be done when it wraps up but We Happy Few fans won’t feel cheated.
Mechanics Still Leave Something to be Desired
If there is one massive negative in this DLC for We Happy Few, it’s the “same old, same old” for some of the mechanics. Lightbearer changes things up plenty in regards to your guitar being one of your primary weapons.
When the game becomes a platformer in a few spots, it can also become incredibly frustrating. Jumping from one ledge to another takes too much finesse. Even when a user is doing exactly what they should be doing, they’ll come up empty if things don’t unfold just right.
This is quite similar to the base game and it’s something that should have and could have been ironed out. One leap towards an edge will have you falling to your death. A second identical attempt will have you falling to your death. Rhyme or reason appears absent.
Compulsion Games has polished quite a bit since the original release. Why this continues to be a factor is a huge question mark.
Verdict: The Lightbearer DLC for We Happy Few is a pleasant change of pace from the base game. Even with some of the same problems that haunt the original, it’s an enjoyable playthrough.
- New character makes it fresh
- Trippy humor is charming
- Music-based weapons allow a fresh take
- The story is just long enough
- Wonky mechanics can lead to frustration
- Desire to guide players to the end makes it a bit too easy