The second DLC instalment for Compulsion Games’ We Happy Few (2018), Lightbearer, takes us on the drug fuelled antics of Wellington Wells’ local rockstar, Nick Lightbearer, as he attempts to piece together his recollection of the previous night’s events. Lightbearer takes us on a psychedelic journey much different from the base game in a weird experience that perfectly fits the world of Wellington Wells.
When musician Nick Lightbearer wakes up hungover in a trashed hotel room, he finds himself covered in blood and unable to remember the night before. With his manager nowhere to be found (other than in Nick’s hallucinations) and a rumoured serial killer on the loose, Nick attempts to unsuccessfully stay off drugs long enough to figure out what is going on all while dealing with crazed joy-addicted fans and the after effects of Nick’s precious “reds and yellows”.
The whole experience of this DLC story is very different from the base game. Lightbearer is a linear non-open world adventure that has you going from A to B in a series of missions that will take around two hours to complete. Unlike in the base game where taking too much (or too little) Joy has negative side effects, taking as much Joy, coffee, and alcohol as possible is actively encouraged and doing so will replenish Nick’s health bar.
The game plays in first person but instead of using a variety of melee and throwable weapons to take down enemies, Nick uses the power of music to fend off his screaming fans by serenading them or blowing their minds with a face melting riff. After using Nick’s guitar there is a brief recharge period that can feel like a lifetime when you have multiple people attacking you and it is during this time that Nick’s secondary weapon, an unlimited stack of gold records, comes in handy. Overall the combat feels much more difficult than in the base game. Enemies seem to come at you in greater numbers and much faster and some guitar functions, such as serenading, takes a little too long.
Nick’s guitar is also used to interact with the world around him. There is no map in Lightbearer, so instead Nick uses the “vibe” function on his guitar to not only block incoming attacks, but to also reveal hints and get directions around the brilliantly designed level. A level that is a perfect fit for the creepy We Happy Few universe and the psychedelic personality of Nick Lightbearer.
Despite We Happy Few being very obviously inspired by the likes of BioShock (2007) and George Orwells’ Ninteen Eighty-Four (1949), Lightbearer is an entertaining and original first-person experience. While the murder mystery story that Lightbearer brings to the table is good, it’s Nick’s interesting and hilarious backstory that really makes the game. And it’s by reading the notes scattered around the town and listening to Nick’s ramblings that you truly get an insight into the inner workings of what makes Nick Lightbearer. The questions surrounding Nick’s nightly blackouts, the vague mentions of a possible serial killer, and Nick’s almost constant hallucinations keep things interesting and leave you never quite sure of what will happen next.