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Victoria: Truth is the enemy of happiness! Isn't that the decision we all made?
Ollie: Oh... But you know the truth, don't ya?
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We Happy Few is a Story-driven first-person survival game, taking place in and around the city of Wellington Wells, located in England in an alternate version of the 1960s or late 1964. In this alternate timeline, Germany managed to launch a full invasion of England during World War II, and the people of Wellington Wells did A Very Bad Thing in response. To forget what they did, the people of Wellington Wells started taking Joy, a medication that removes their bad thoughts and feelings and allows them to live in relative bliss. They are helped along by Uncle Jack, whose shows play on public TVs throughout the town and reminds people to always take their Joy.

You play as one of several characters in different scenarios, the initial character being a man named Arthur Hastings. Arthur is a Downer, someone who has stopped taking Joy, and it's your goal in each scenario to escape Wellington Wells. Unfortunately for you, the Wellies really don't like Downers, and they'll kill you to keep their town happy.

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We Happy Few, developed by Compulsion Games, was released on July 26, 2016 as an early access title for Windows, Playstation 4, Mac, Linux, Steam, GOG Dot Com, and the Humble Store, and an Xbox Game Preview title on Xbox One. The full release was planned for April 14, 2018, though this was later pushed back to mid-summer. The game was partly crowdfunded through a Kickstarter campaign, which reached its goal on June 28, 2015; the campaign ended on July 4. It was announced on August 16, 2017 that Gearbox Software would become the game's publisher.

Revealed in the Microsoft E3 trailer, the game was fully released on August 10, 2018.

No relation to the mobile game We Happy Restaurant, though the mobile game seems to be (vaguely) inspired by this game, and both game featured mind control as a plot point, although handled differently.

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This game provides examples of the following tropes:

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  • The '60s: The game takes place in an alternate version of 1960s England, and the design of Wellington Wells draws heavily on mod culture.
  • Action Survivor: Arthur Hastings is meek, timid, scrawny, and sounds like he's constantly on the verge of a panic attack. And yet he can kick plenty of ass right out of the gate, can slap a lot of common materials into some very useful stuff with virtually no practice or foreknowledge, and although he constantly sounds terrified, he has no qualms about fighting back against his attackers despite being outnumbered and outgunned.
  • Addled Addict: The people of Wellington Wells know they can't work while on Joy but they can't live with what they did so they have to take Joy to forget. The end result is that the whole society is breaking down, but very few people care.
  • Adult Fear: Worse than being powerless to protect one's children is having the power all along but being too afraid to do so. Wellington Wells was tricked into sacrificing their children for nothing.
  • An Aesop: Everybody makes mistakes but some are more irreparable than others, and you need to live with the consequences of your actions. Sometimes, the only thing you can do is learn from your mistakes before you repeat them.
    • Forgetting about your problems doesn't make them go away.
    • Artificial happiness isn't the same as actually being happy.
  • Affably Evil: Joy makes all your enemies this even as they pursue you to beat you to death.
  • Alien Sky: A drug-induced one. If you've taken Joy recently, there will be a lovely double rainbow in the sky. If you're overdosed on Joy, then the sky will be filled with a lively pattern of flowers. If you're in withdrawal, it will be horribly dark and gloomy.
  • All of the Other Reindeer:
    • You have regained your mind and sanity. But in this hellhole, that makes you a "Downer". The delusional people of this godforsaken world do not take kindly to those who refuse to take their happy pills.
    • And the Downers/Wastrels themselves won't cut you any slack either; they're all shell-shocked, unhinged husks that will lash out at you angrily if you do anything they don't like (including running, jumping and crouching), will mostly ignore you otherwise, and will turn hostile at the slightest (or sometimes even no) provocation.
  • Alternate History:
    • Hitler's attempts to gain control of Germany ultimately failed, and the country re-formed into The German Empire and consequently waged war upon Europe anyways. The Germans launched a full invasion of England during World War II, which led to Wellington Wells doing A Very Bad Thing in response. Germany eventually started losing in 1948 until Berlin was taken by the Soviets.
    • Also, a newspaper headline at the beginning of the E3 2016 trailer shows that Britain had been forcibly enlisted by the German Empire into their war against the Soviet Union.
    • For those unaware, although the Nazis did attack the United Kingdom in WWII (and bombed London heavily, in particular), they never managed a land invasion of the main British Isles (the Channel Isles did fall to them) like they did with Poland and France.
    • WWII ended up taking such a dramatic turn because Franklin Roosevelt was assassinated (Word of God implies the 1933 assassination attempt on him succeeded) and got replaced by someone less competent, whereas Adolf Hitler was deposed and replaced by someone more competent — Erwin Rommel.
    • A Colonel von Stauffenberg is mentioned as being the leader of the German occupation forces in Wellington Wells, presumably the same one who helped lead the July 20 Plot against Hitler.
    • The Russians managed to defeat the Germans, and apparently, they used this victory to expand into the rest of Europe and challenge the US. They were also supposed to recover and return Wellington Wells' children, but something went wrong.
      • During World War II, France is instead the French Soviet Republic, as revealed in a map in the military camp, which can be seen in Arthur’s story.
      • In Sally's story, you can find a document titled "Soviets Take Madrid" regarding General Byng trying to figure out why the children haven't been returned yet, and it reads that he has sent a letter to the Provisional Government of the Spanish Democratic Republic. In real life, Spain was under Francisco Franco's dictatorship at the time, which would last until 1975. Spain was also supportive of the Axis powers, though MI6 kept them from joining, at least officially.
    • A radio broadcast in Ollie's story is of a baseball game about the Dublin Dukes under Johnny Keane. In real life, Johnny Keane was the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals at this time (and would become the manager of the New York Yankees the following year). A person named Yogi is also mentioned, presumably Yogi Berra, who would've been managing the Yankees at the time. This is also strange as baseball is not a particularly common or popular enough sport in Ireland, only reaching the country in the '90's. Unless they're talking about Dublin in California or Ohio...
    • Ollie finds a soldier named Baden-Powell being attacked by Plagies in the military camp and remembers that he was a "kiss ass" when they worked together in India. Baden-Powell was the name of the founder of the Boy Scouts.
  • America Saves the Day: Averted in the backstory with disastrous consequences. FDR's successor couldn't competently deal with the German Empire and let Great Britain fall. This led to the town being occupied and forced the townsfolk to do a Very Bad Thing to make it end. It's likely that the United States isn't doing so well but possibly better than Great Britain.
    • While you're wandering in the Garden District, some passing people will comment "Where are the Americans? Where are the Russians?"
  • Angry Mob: Wellies and Wastrels aren't that tough to take on one at a time, but if you piss one off, you enter combat mode, and every other NPC nearby will aggro as soon as they see you. You can run and run, but you'll pass more people and aggro them too. Your best option is to try to get to a bin or a shelter, or dodge across the fields where there's nobody to see you.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • The Life In Technicolor update overhauls the inventory system, replacing the Grid Inventory's Inventory Management Puzzle with a weight-based inventory that you can scroll through. Additionally, you now have four quickslots that autopopulate with similar items when you run out of an item (ex. running out of healing balms is replaced with another healing item). The game also now pauses while in the menu now, as it originally did not to build up paranoia.
    • In the full release's Story Mode, you don't have to eat, drink, and sleep to survive. You're encouraged to do so via buffs granted when you do, but they're not necessities. (Presumably, when Survival Mode is released, they will once again be requirements in that mode.)
    • As of 1.4, power cells and canteens regardless if they are full or not will no longer be automatically stashed into item storage with the other recipe ingredients. They are now assigned as gadgets.
  • Apathetic Citizens: The drug-induced townsfolk honestly don't care if they stumble upon dead people lying around in the streets.
    • The Downers/Wastrels in the ruined parts of the town are even worse, in that they'll barely even register your presence - unless you intrude into their "homes" or try to attack or steal from them.
  • Apocalyptic Log: In the prologue, Arthur finds the journal of a man slowly going mad as Joy stops affecting him and he becomes a Wastrel.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Arthur apologizes to pretty much everyone he takes down or attacks.
  • Arc Words: "We've come to the end of our time."
  • Are You Sure You Want to Do That?: Once you reach the final mission of each story, you will be prompted on whether or not you want to continue, as this will lock you out of any side quests you haven't finished yet. In Sally's story, it also adds that you must play her final mission at in-game night and you will be unable to attack or hold items, as Sally needs to carry the bag holding Gwen.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Lionel refers to the Wastrels as 'cannibals, devil worshippers and queue jumpers'.
  • The Artifact: In Early Access, you could craft bouquets to appease Nosey Old Ladies. In the final game, this is removed, likely due to the availability of other methods that render this method moot anyways. Near the end of Arthur's story when he becomes a fashion model, he's advised to make a bouquet for the crowd, which is automatically created.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Joy, for stealth purposes. It makes you practically invisible as long as you don't do anything unlawful, even to the otherwise-unavoidable Doctors and Nosey Old Ladies; it lets you pass through the Joy scanners, otherwise impassible barriers, without fear. It's also incredibly short-lived (what with you being a Downer and all), you take severe hits to hunger, thirst, and sleepiness while under its effects, and if you take too much in the Early Access version in too short a timespan, everything will be fine, and you won't be a Downer anymore.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Used often by the protagonists. It's kind of easy when everyone else isn't all here. Ollie gives Arthur a gadget he has no clue about other than he saw a bridge inspector with it once, and says that's proof enough to impersonate one. He is proven right.
  • Bee Bee Gun: Given to Ollie by Roger and James. It's made for pollinating plants, but you can just as easily use it as a weapon. People will panic and run if you shoot a swarm of bees at them, but you do have to load the gun (ie. suck up the bees) yourself.
  • Berserk Button: Both Wellies and Wastrels turn hostile to thieves and uninvited guests (even if you're on Joy). Without the "Oh, You"-skill, they also turn hostile if you run, jump, crouch, punch the air, or climb on things.
    • In general, Wellies flip out at the sight of anyone who isn't on Joy, which is why the Wastrels and Downers are forced into hiding in the Park District. An article on "Breeder Riots" suggests they also react violently to the sight of pregnant women and to children.
    • Wastrels don't take kindly to well-dressed people, it reminds them of what they lost after quitting Joy.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Oh yes, the townspeople are all friendly, totally cheery and oh so polite... and they will rip you a new one if you merely let your guard down for one brief moment.
    • Arthur himself qualifies, being that he's a meek, submissive office worker who outruns and outsmarts everyone, and can personally kill/incapacitate more than his share of people. He also sacrificed his mentally ill brother just to avoid getting on the train to Germany.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: While less sophisticated than some other examples of this trope, relying more on personal reporting than sophisticated surveillance systems, you are being watched for any sign of being a Downer. And you will be punished if you're found out or caught.
    • Uncle Jack is simply an entertainer/figurehead, but like Orwell's Big Brother figure, he is almost omnipresent. Ollie even ran away to the Garden District because he hates Jack, and couldn't stand seeing his face everywhere.
  • Bittersweet Ending: None of the three protagonists have entirely happy endings, but they're not Downer Endings, either.
  • Black Comedy: Uncle Jack's unsettling brand of humor includes a lot of jokes about killing Downers.
    "What is the difference between a Downer and a trampoline? You take off your boots before you jump on a trampoline!"
    "What do you call three Downers at the bottom of the sea? Not enough Downers!"
  • Black Speech: Plague victims are reduced to speaking Old English, which comes across as this in their maniacal panic.
  • Book-Ends: The first and last decision you as the player make in the game are as Arthur, and consist of the same thing; Take a pill and forget, living on in blissful ignorance, or remember what you did, even as it hurts?
  • Border Patrol: Invoked. A lore letter found in the Garden District details how the writer and the receiver want to leave and sail west (possibly to Ireland), though there are patrol boats surrounding Wellington Wells. The writer is concerned about the size of the boat so that they can pass through without detection. Arthur does encounter this at the end of his playthrough, but they're easy to avoid and the one Bobby that catches him ends up being friendly and escorting him out of town.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Arthur sometimes does this when he's talking to people:
    Arthur: It's not my fault, I’m being controlled by someone I've never even met.
  • Broken Masquerade: Not taking a Joy pill results in showing the person (now a "Downer") what the world is really like.
  • Brick Joke: Johnny Bolton, the wastrel who lives in a tree house, gives a quest to Arthur to retrieve "Peachy", one of his dolls from the puppet theater, then comes Sally's visit to the Garden district, she finds a picture of Arthur plastered outside the theater, completely defaced along with horns for good measure.
  • But Thou Must!: Averted in the beginning. You can decide to take your Joy, but the game ends since Arthur decided to uphold The Masquerade and this there's no game.
  • Caltrops: One of the simpler traps that can be crafted. When an enemy steps on them, they take minor damage and are unable to move for a while
  • Central Theme: Facing reality, rather than living in denial.
  • Conscription: Under German rule, the conscription age was lowered to 13.
  • Chainsaw Good: Anger a Joy Doctor at your own peril, or you will find yourself at the mercy of their bonesaws.
  • Chekhov's Gun: A minor example. If you've picked up documents in the Garden District train station and read them, you'll learn that the Belpit brothers were out sick when they were supposed to board the train, but were later taken to Germany anyway. Later, if you go through the rehabilitation facility, the old woman at the end of the crowd congratulating you is named Mrs. Belpit, who asks you if you've read anything interesting in the paper recently.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • The constable in the rehabilitation quiz is named Constable Jack Constable. Later, the constable that goes by Dr. Faraday's home in Ollie's story is named Constable Constable, presumably the same man.
    • Arthur recognizes Lionel Castershire in the rehabilitation quiz. He later shows up in Sally's story.
  • Chekhov's Skill: One that comes to the fore the moment actual gameplay starts: Arthur and his brother used to collect recyclable scrap to help the war effort. Throughout the game, Arthur's old scavenging and salvaging abilities are put to the test.
  • Chemically-Induced Insanity: The entire populace of Wellington Wells is addicted to "Joy," which causes people to forget their troubles (especially the "Very Bad Thing") but also causes hallucinations and erratic behavior. Those who are not on Joy are brutally attacked by users until they either give in and take the drug, or are killed.
  • Childless Dystopia: Despite the numerous playgrounds in Wellington Wells, there are no children to be found. And Uncle Jack encourages the adults to use the playgrounds, because if they don't, no-one else will...
    • A newspaper clipping in the prologuenote  has the headline 4 Injured in 'Breeder' Riot. It says that a pregnant woman was attacked because just the sight of her brought bad memories back.
    • Sally is possibly the only mum in Wellington Wells, and has to keep her baby daughter Gwen hidden from everyone else. If she doesn't, they could both end up being locked up and experimented on... or, perhaps more likely, torn apart by psychotic Wellies.
  • Child Soldiers: The German Empire forced the Occupied British to enlist their children into the war effort. This is what leads to the Very Bad Thing for Wellington Wells. They let them, with next to no resistance, then found out had they protested the Germans would have bent backward since they didn't really have the men and firepower to occupy Wellington Wells.
  • Classical Anti-Hero: Arthur Hastings is a meek and scrawny office worker, who has made - and continues to make - incredibly selfish and cowardly choices, Sally is a single mum and a drug dealer, and Ollie is a rude, violent man with memory problems who sees and talks to a hallucination of who he assumes to be his dead daughter.
  • Les Collaborateurs: Wells was so scared of the German Empire's occupation that they were willing to do a lot to appease them, from lynching resistance members to give away their children to be deported.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Wellington Wells is a perfectly nice place to live. Just remember to take your Joy, ignore the Downers, and everything will be fine. At least until the next bad batch of Joy.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    • Arthur lost his brother, Percy, when he was taken away by the Germans with the other children. Arthur was originally supposed to be the one to go, but he tricked Percy into coming to the train station with him to sneak on the train so they could stay together, only to pretend to be Percy in order to stay behind, while his brother was dragged on the train in his place and never seen again.
      Arthur: I'd forgotten just what a heinous person I am.
    • An NPC sidequest reveals that the adults thought bringing their children to the train station was a good idea, as it would appease the Germans. It's an action they feel immensely guilty about, as it took their children away to parts unknown with no indication that they will ever come back.
    • Other sidequests reveal through letters that it was believed that the last train was supposed to take the children somewhere else. One letter wonders if it's possible to be married in that place, implying that either the destination is a terrible place with little redemption or is a paradise free from trouble.
    • Another letter has the writer believe that they're a coward for not joining their lover on the train, writing to her asking if she's still alive and if she has seen his son, before lamenting that this letter can't be sent to Germany anyway. Since no one knows where the train went, it can be assumed the writer means that the Germans were responsible for the train.
    • In Mrs. Stokes' letter from before the Life in Technicolor update, she says that she knew a little girl (her daughter?) who was taken and wonders if the girl remembers her. She also adds that she was forced to learn German, before saying that she doesn't know where "they" took her and that the girl stopped writing.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Subverted; Arthur tries to snark under his breath about everything that's happening, but the terrified tone of his voice makes it come off as more of a coping mechanism.
  • Defector from Decadence: The Downers, who refuse to take Joy or submit to Wellington Wells' oppressive mandate. Arthur used to be part of the censorship department until a sudden flashback made him refuse to take the Joy pill, Sally stopped taking Joy in order to properly focus on caring for her daughter, and Ollie is a loud, rude vandal who tries his very best to make a change in the system.
  • Despair Event Horizon: After letting the Germans take their children, the residents of Wellington Wells are plagued with guilt to the point that they cannot go on without their Joy. And even then, civilization is already on the brink of collapse...
  • Didn't Think This Through: Verloc has a security system that electrocutes an intruder as long as he holds the button. The problem is that he can't call for assistance or escape without releasing the button.
    Verloc: Oh fuck.
  • Dirty Business: Applies to both the Very Bad Thing that Wellington Wells did during occupation by the Germans, and to the brutal measures undertaken by the Wellies to maintain order afterwards.
    • Arthur seems to take this view towards killing the Wellies and Downers, being that while they ARE trying to kill him, they're just a society of delusional drug-addicts and burnt-out husks, respectively.
    • Ollie feels this way about killing Plague Wastrels. On the one hand, they are dangerously violent and attack on sight, but on the other hand, they're just people who are very, very sick and don't know what they're doing.
  • Double Standard: In one of the letters you can find, a churchgoer asks the vicar why they make jokes about Downers when shouldn't they be praying that the Downers get better instead? The writer says that even though she finds Downer jokes funny, she finds it funny when they're unserious, and since the church is serious, the vicar should hold a standard that everyone should aspire to hold themselves to.
  • Driven to Suicide: A lot of the Wellies, even on Joy, cannot bear the crippling knowledge of the atrocities of their past, and end their own despairing lives. It's heavily implied that England is on the brink of a meltdown, and you have to escape before total chaos consumes everything and you along with it.
  • Driving Question: Where is Percy? What is really going on in Wellington Wells? And how do you escape?
  • Drugs Are Bad: Joy is a notably unkind and cartoonish take on anti-depressant medication and what the narrative director described as "prescription drug culture". Joy brings medicinal relief to the traumatised populace of Wellington Wells, but is a ridiculously destructive and unhealthy drug: it's an addictive hallucinogenic with side-effects so severe, numerous and consistent it would never pass an ethical clinical trial. It inflicts significant short-term penalties to health upon use, and practically destroys your mind in the long-term. Nearly all of the populace are too addled on Joy to notice the literal collapse of societal functions (piled-up paper works, broken pneumatic-tubes, and people starving to death because the food supply has run out). To top it off whether you're allergic, developed a resistance or they simply screwed up the recipe will make the effect worse.
  • Eat the Dog: Not Played for Laughs. Arthur mentions at one point that many citizens of Wellington Wells were reduced to eating their pets during the war, and are still traumatized.
  • Encyclopedia Exposita: Letters, books, and other documents found in the game provide insights into the game's backstory, like why the Wastrels are exiled to the Garden District. note 
  • Enemy Mime: The citizens of Wellington Wells wear white masks, which rather resemble mime-like face paint, to seem happier.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The Bobbies may be willing to kill anyone who breaks curfew or refuses to take Joy, but when Arthur informs one that the butcher Reg Cutty is making V-Meat out of human corpses, he is utterly horrified and arrests the Cutty for this heinous deed.
  • Everything's Better with Rainbows: Rainbow coloration is everywhere in Wellington Wells, as is appropriate to the fashion of the time, and everyone at least seems happy. However, this is a subversion, because it's still Wellington Wells.
    • Take Joy, and not only will the dull, dreary coloration become far more vibrant, but you can even see a double rainbow in the sky, and some blandly textured floors will gain a rainbow pattern.
  • Extreme Omnivore: In the Game Over screen, information around your article can mention sawdust being a valid choice of food, and Uncle Jack's cooking show lays out many things people wouldn't otherwise eat, like the aforementioned sawdust, weeds and lichens. Subverted in gameplay, as while there's a surprising variety of stuff to eat, much of it comes with nasty side effects that aren't worth the small hunger recovery, though Sally and Ollie have a skill in their skill tree that allows them to stomach rotten food.
    • Wellies who are firmly on their Joy have extremely strong stomachs, able to eat raw meat and rotten food without any real issues. Its the Wastrels and Downers who have issues finding enough to eat in the Isles.
  • Fantastic Drug: The game is full of them as Wellington Wells refuses to face reality.
    • Joy, which removes negative thoughts and feelings.
    • Sunshine is a drug Sally created to make one appear to be on Joy, fooling doctors and the scanners.
    • Blackberry, another flavor of Joy made by Sally that ensures her a comfy life with the constables. Unlike the other flavors, it's less damaging to short-term memory, but it’s just as addictive.
  • Fascists' Bed Time: There is a curfew restricting civilians being on the streets between 9 PM and 7 AM. The player characters, NPCs and Uncle Jack will comment when it happens. If you're spotted by a Bobby out past curfew, no amount of faking it will avoid suspicion, though there is a skill in the "Stealth" tree that can alleviate this issue.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: Doctors capture Arthur and experiment on him, then they blow themselves up trying to press a button because everything is going to hell due to the society being on Joy.
  • False Utopia: Inside Wellington Wells' gates, everything is bright and colorful and everyone is always smiling. Just outside of town are numerous bombed out buildings that have become overgrown with foliage. And the smiling people will kill you if you do anything to remind them of the fact. There is also a major food shortage, even though Joy is in plentiful supply, though Arthur discovers that even that is going bad as well.
    • One of the first things Arthur notices when off his Joy, is that his office seems to be in disrepair, with work piling up everywhere, suggesting that the very thing making people so happy, is also making them too addled to maintain society or realize that it's failing.
    • One Wastrel, formerly a surgeon, mentions that a large portion of the new generation of doctors don't even know how to cure or treat people anymore, they just give them stronger Joy to take so the patient won't realize they are sick. This goes about as well as you would think.
    • When Arthur sneaks into Haworth Labs, he discovers that the Doctors are working on a replacement for Joy; a facemask that sends an electric current into your brain, effectively forcing you to be happy all the time, even though this process has essentially the same effect as a lobotomy. When Arthur confronts Doctor Verloc about this, he doesn't seem too concerned.
      Arthur: You're planning to lobotomize the people of Wellington Wells, aren't you?
      Verloc: "Lobotomize" is a rather inflammatory metaphor, but yes, I have been asked to synthesize something stronger and more permanent than Joy. Who are you?
      Arthur: If you force people to have the emotions you want, then you've turned them into... robots made out of meat! [...] You can't do that.
      Verloc: They told the Wright Brothers they couldn't fly! But they did.
      Arthur: You can't do that!
  • Fictional Disability: Wastrels are immune to Joy's positive effects, and taking the drug only makes their mental issues worse.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: All three characters fill one of these roles, albeit adapted to the setting.
    • Arthur is the Thief, with skills that boost his ability to quickly sneak around, or that considerably slow or avoid suspicion. He isn't as strong as Ollie, but he can reduce his disadvantage by using stealth takedowns and crafting items, particularly decent weapons.
    • Sally is the Mage, thanks to her Atomizer spray and the ability to craft various chemicals to cause various effects to herself or others. Additionally, she can freely wander in unrestricted areas without raising suspicion. However, she's the weakest character, and doesn't know how to craft weapons or clothes - meaning that she cannot get the best ones.
    • Ollie is the Fighter. He is the slowest character, pretty bad at blending in, and cannot craft any chemicals; but he has by far the most strength, health and stamina, allowing him to survive prolonged fights with Bobbies. Additionally, he can still craft weapons and clothes, including powerful ones that are exclusive to him.
  • Game Gourmet: Eating and drinking is important in order to survive. What you can feast on include stew, victory meat, grapefruit juice, and various fruits and vegetables. Eating rotten food, though, can give you food poisoning.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: No matter how many days you play one character, the other characters' stories show that the events of that character's story have already happened or are about to happen at certain points in spite of how many days you've played them.
  • Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul: Played with- the Wellies do it to themselves, so they can forget the Very Bad Thing they did. They also force it on the Downers by making them take Joy if they're caught.
    • Verloc's plans for creating a face mask that delivers an electric current to the brain, forcing the patient to be happy, is definitely a straight example.
  • Glamour Failure: That piñata seems surprisingly resistant to overhead smashes. Disturbingly so. You'd think its 'spine' and tiny 'limbs' would have cracked by now. It's a rat. How resilient was that rat, anyway? How strong IS Arthur?!
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: The Wastrels aren't just suffering from Joy withdrawal, some of their dialogues shows they remembered the paper mâché tanks and their capitulation. There is a whole group of old veterans running patrols and practicing their bayonets on intruders confusing them for Germans coming back.
    Wastrel police: Don't call it victory! Victory is when you win!
  • Government Drug Enforcement: Remember to take your Joy! Or else.
  • Grimmification: The bedtime stories that Uncle Jack tells are rather dark and twisted versions of the usual stories, although the same lesson remain. They also contain some subtext.
    • The Red Riding Hood story has the Wolf speak with a German accent and disguise himself as Red's mother after killing her. He tricks Red into eating a ham sandwich, the ham being the flesh of her mother (and a mouse tries to warn her, but the Wolf tells her to kill it). Then he asks her to strip naked and join him in the bed, and only then does Red realize her "mother" looks off, but it's too late — she gets eaten.
    • In a slight inversion of this Trope, Uncle Jack's take on the Pied Piper of Hamlin ends with the greedy villagers being led away by the Piper instead of their children, with the lame boy unable to keep up being a blacksmith instead. This is probably because telling a story about the loss of an entire town's children might spark some unpleasant memories among the populace.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: The Wellies will obviously turn on you instantly if you blow your cover, but the Wastrels are a better example, being barely-functional husks wandering around bombed-out ruins babbling nonsense and going about their "lives"; they'll react with anger and hostility if you do anything but walk normally, and attack as soon as you step into an area you're not supposed to be.
  • Have a Nice Death: Die, and you're greeted with a news article announcing the player character's "vacation."
  • Happiness Is Mandatory: The Game. Everyone in Wellington Wells are pushed to take Joy or other drugs to relieve stress but also to forget their past. They'll fly in murderous rage if they see someone unhappy or reminding them of bad memories.
  • Hate Plague: Joy alters one's ability to comprehend and understand reality, locking them in a near-constant state of ignorant bliss and happiness. Some cannot take it at all, their bodies and minds reject it, resulting in permanent brain damage (leaving them as Wastrels). Unfortunately, these are the least of its devastating side-effects. Those who take Joy too often (aka Wellies) become completely dependent on it to function, and become dangerous psychotic messes that cannot tolerate unhappiness or even normal people who aren't taking their Joy (aka Downers). Rather than simply ignore what offends them, they will actively hunt down and destroy anything that upsets or brings them off their high.
  • Hellish Pupils: Anyone who is on Joy has tiny pinprick pupils; this is used by Joy Detectors to determine who is on Joy and who isn't. "Sunshine", a craftable drug, also causes this, and is used precisely to pass through Detectors without taking Joy.
  • Heroic BSoD: Arthur falls into one after he tosses his Joy aside and instead reflects on the resurfaced memory of his brother, just staring motionless for hours until Victoria comes to check on him.
  • Hidden Depths: Arthur, for all that he's panicky and scrawny, turns out to be really good at acting, as seen in the quest where he has to impersonate Nick Lightbearer, whose stage persona is basically the opposite of Arthur.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Most of the Wellies can't tell if you're off your Joy until they try to interact with you, and even then, you can reassure them with a friendly greeting.
    • It works less well on Nosy Old Ladies and Doctors, who are special characters intended to root out sneakier Downers; Doctors can tell instantly if you're Joyless and will become aggressive if you stay close to them for too long, and Nosy Old Ladies will aggressively stalk you if they see you do ANYTHING suspicious, and will blow the whistle on you as soon as you do something unlawful or Downer-esque.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Foggy Jack, an enigmatic boogeyman who is said to "take" you if you go out after curfew, is based on Jack the Ripper; this is made explicit when you find a list of his past victims at the "O" Courant, which amounts to the names of the Ripper's own victims.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: The Wellies sent their children away to appease the Germans after they invaded England during World War II. Unlike most examples of this trope, they're not okay with what they had to do, and started taking Joy to deal with their collective guilt and shame.
  • The Insomniac: Most of the character models have indications of chronic insomnia, possibly as a result of taking Joy.
  • Ironic Echo: If you choose to take your Joy at the beginning of the game, Arthur blissfully says "Snug as a bug on a drug." as the scene fades to the end credits. If you choose to remember, he'll say the same thing to Victoria to reassure her that he hasn't forgotten his Joy.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • Arthur will sometimes mutter to himself about how all the townsfolk look similar after a while.
    • One of the letters you can find in the Garden district is from a Wastrel complaining that the programs from Uncle Jack appear to be on a pre-recorded loop. This turns out to be Foreshadowing; Uncle Jack was Released to Elsewhere ages ago, so the people in charge are just repeating his old tapes on an endless loop.
  • Laughably Evil: Uncle Jack, the jolly figurehead who appears on TV and radio throughout Wellington Wells and casually cracks jokes about murdering Downers.
    • In Sally's storyline the Bobbies decide to show their thanks for her help by staging an elaborate musical number.
  • Land, Sea, Sky: The three characters escape Wellington Wells by three diffrent methods. Arthur escapes by going into a mine so he get to the only bridge that connects to the mainland. Sally steals a boat to get her and Gwen out of the island. Ollie uses a parade balloon and flies out of the town after broadcasting the truth.
  • Last-Second Ending Choice: Once Ollie's story is completed, there's one more scene between Arthur and the Constable. During it, the Constable will offer Arthur an Oblivion pill, which will erase his memories of the game and allow him to return to his old life as a Wellie.
  • Lost in a Crowd:
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: The joy pills are designed to stop the ingester from recognising and remembering the past. The pill will mask everything by making it look angelic and utopic. Anyone who rejects joy or forgets to take it, will be punished by either being force-fed joy or be thrown out into the Garden District.
  • Mad Doctor: Wellington Wells employs Doctors to root out and medicate any Downers that are pretending to take Joy; they can spot you instantly if you're off your Joy, and will chase you down and try to forcefully dose you with Joy.
  • Madness Mantra:
  • Meaningful Name: In Arthur's story, a minor character is named Nick Lightbearer. "Old Nick" is a slang term for Satan, and "Lightbearer" is the meaning of Lucifer.
  • Medium Blending: Uncle Jack's videos are live action, black-and-white recordings, unlike the colorful computer graphics that make up the rest of the game.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Enemies from different factions will attack each other as well as the player.
  • Move Along, Nothing to See Here: The Bobbies are quick to put up signs of "Nothing to see here" should someone die, or go completely mental on their Joy.
  • Mushroom Samba: The world is visibly different, and more pleasant-looking, if you've taken Joy. There are also hallucinogenic mushrooms that grows on plague victims.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The whole reason Wellington Wells is hooked on Joy and why the people of the Garden District are mentally unstable is because of their action during the war.

     N-Z 
  • Non-Standard Game Over:
    • Of course you can die by having the Wellies and Bobbies beat the crap out of you, but you can avoid this by ingesting Joy and blending in. Though you stopped taking the stuff for a reason. There is a separate bar that measures how much Joy you have in you. Fill it up in the Early Access version and you completely succumb to the effects of Joy, everything will be fine, and you'll no longer be a Downer.
    • Also, you can choose to take your daily Joy at the beginning of the game. This ends about the way you'd expect.
  • Noodle Incident: The Very Bad Thing that inspired the Wellies to start taking Joy, which happened during the occupation from the German Empire. The player is led to believe it was an act of resistance so terrible that the whole society threatens to collapse from guilt. It's revealed that it wasn't an act of resistance at all. It's the fact that the Wellies gave in to the Germans when they could have actually fought them off.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Wellington Wells has this in spades. The factories and laboratories have poor to no safety standards with electrified floors, chemical leaks all over the place. Even the town has segments where the motiline pipes are about to burst and create chemical fumes. This is a justified case as Wellington Wells is an isolated society, and the English version of OSHA probably can't get in.
  • Nosy Neighbor: The Nosy Old Lady, a special character intended to help sniff out players that rely on stealth to get around; they'll watch you like a hawk once you're in their line of sight, will aggressively tail you if you do anything out of the ordinary, and will scream bloody murder once they spot you doing anything a Wellie wouldn't (which is most things), instantly attracting the attention of anyone nearby.
  • Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: The executive committee. They're basically the conspiracy, but they take a joy for every major crisis headache going on. Honestly, it's a miracle they haven't overdosed yet.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: What you have to do in order to fool the mad townspeople and survive. Just keep waving and smiling. DON'T linger or make eye contact with anyone for too long.
  • Old-Fashioned Copper: The Bobbies are supposed to be this, but really they're mostly there to beat up Downers, especially those that try to fight their way through the town.
  • Paper Tiger: It's ultimately revealed that, by the time the German Empire had conquered England and was demanding their children as conscripts, most of their military force had actually been decimated. The huge army of tanks they used to scare England into compliance was made up of papier-mache models. There are some suggestions that Wellington Wells may have been one of the few, if not only, places in England that capitulated, only to learn the truth after their children were gone.
  • Police Brutality: Bobbies have only one job and it's beating Downers or suspected Downers to death with their clubs. There is a conversation where one suggest that the other should leave a stun rod or something next to the person he broke the trachea of in case he was someone important.
  • Pretentious Latin Motto: The motto of Wellington Wells is "In Posterum Cum Gaudio". It translates, roughly, as "Hence With Joy".
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Whether it's because of the Joy, the "Very Bad Thing", or some other kerfuffle, the people of Wellington Wells act like wild caricatures of adulthood rather than proper adults. There are also playgrounds scattered around town, they can't resist splashing around in puddles, and Uncle Jack entertains the masses with bedtime stories and games of Simon Says.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Everyone that's against you is mentally unstable anyway, though the Bobbies won't be hostile and will actually be friendly as long as you don't do anything to set them off, similar to non-enforcement Wellies. They'll greet you, appreciate gratitude and alcohol, but show an explicit sign that you're a Downer, and you're in trouble.
  • Raygun Gothic: This an British variant that takes place in an alternate 1964, where mostly of its technology, style and aesthetics are from. There are also some elements of Steampunk.
  • Reality Ensues: Wellington Wells is essentially what a society completely dependent on drugs would actually be like. Nobody can function correctly, people display a shocking lack of self-preservation instinct, sympathy and compassion is at an all-time low, and the upkeep of society has fallen so badly that a total collapse is, at this point, almost inevitable.
  • Recurring Riff: London Bridge, the song the children who boarded the train were made to sing to keep them calm, is referenced repeatedly, and verses from it are sung a few different times.
  • Red Pill, Blue Pill: Arthur's story starts with a variant that only involves one pill type: He can either take Joy and go on with his blissfully ignorant life, or not take it, thereby remembering his past and starting his quest towards escape. Near the end of his story, he's given the same choice again.
  • Released to Elsewhere: People don't "die" in Wellington Wells, they're "taken" or they "go on vacation."
  • The Remnant: Wellington Wells is trying to keep the United Kingdom "alive", both societally and culturally, like it was before the Germans ruined it, and they fail spectacularly at this, though taking your Joy will ensure you don't realize this.
    • If Arthur manages to leave Wellington Wells, it's implied that the rest of the UK is actually doing fine; the Wellies are just one little bubble of self-imposed, self-isolated hell.
  • Resources Management Gameplay: In Survival-mode, you have to eat and drink to survive, with most of the food and water in Wellington Wells being tainted with Joy. Playing normally just grants you buffs and debuffs for getting enough food, water and sleep. You also have a separate bar measuring the amount of Joy in your system, though you don't necessarily want to get that one full.
  • The Reveal:
    • In pre-Alpha, one of the Pre-Alpha endings was the player beaten down by Ollie. But this might have turned the "Shaggy Dog" Story ending into a Cliffhanger since the assailant was revealed to be a Shell-Shocked Veteran and knew the player character. At least based on his Scottish accent that both of them share.
    • The Germans were using bluffs and decoys to pretend their army was enormous. If the British had fought back, they would have taken back their country. The Very Bad Thing that Wellington Wells did was giving up their children instead of fighting, and then learning they could have resisted all along.
    • The train never made it to Germany. It was destroyed before it got there, killing all the children aboard. The children were also for an unspecified project, but no one in Wellington Wells knows what, not even General Byng, though he says that Colonel von Stauffenberg knew, and who knows where he is.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Arthur throws a few of these at any Wastrel giving him the evil-eye, and the brilliance is, it works.
  • Sanity Meter: There is a meter to monitor how much Joy you have in your system. A full meter means that everything is fine, and you aren't a Downer anymore.
  • Secret Police: Ironically, it's the regular police, the Bobbies, who fill this role. Or, at least, they're the most obvious enforcers in Wellington Wells...
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: The tutorial mentions that violence and murder will make others unhappy, causing them to become violent and murderous.
  • Self-Inflicted Hell: It's heavily implied that all Britain outside Wellington Wells is actually doing just fine, but acknowledging this at all inherently means accepting the Very Bad Thing. And so the Wellies, completely dependent on their Joy, would sooner ruin themselves than accept the Very Bad Thing (which was capitulation, not any atrocity they committed).
  • Shout-Out: Many to English culture among other sources:
    • The title is a quote from a Shakespearean play, specifically Henry V, similar to that novel about people being given euphoric drugs by a totalitarian state in England.
      • A quest involving World War II soldiers is called "Band of Brothers," which also comes from Henry V, specifically the line, "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers."
      • Another Shakespeare reference involves a sidequest where you bring together a couple called Beatrice and Benedick.
    • At the beginning, Arthur is working for the dystopian government, censoring the news articles that come from a pneumatic tube system until he sees something in them just like Winston Smith did in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Uncle Jack also acts as a Big Brother figure. The developers themselves additionally listed Brazil— itself heavily based on Nineteen Eighty-Four— as an influence.
      • There's also a bit of a Stealth Pun: Inhabitants of Wellington Wells are called Wellies, and by and large they want to kill you. This brings to mind a classic line from Nineteen Eighty-Four: "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever."
      • The House of the Future exhibit is what Wellies think the life will be like in twenty years... and twenty years from 1964 just so happens to be 1984. The developers shrug over whether or not this was intentional.
    • Speaking of works by George Orwell, when sneaking into the Victory Memorial Camp as Arthur you can overhear one of the guards tell a story about another soldier shooting an elephant that had previously trampled someone but was no longer a threat. The whole story is a reference to Orwell's short essay "Shooting An Elephant".
    • Arthur Hastings' name is a reference to the works of Agatha Christie.
    • The bins in the offices have the same design as the bottom half of Daleks. Also, the Bobbies use police boxes as a means of Offscreen Teleportation, much like a TARDIS (though time-travel is not an option for them). The whole game is practically a Seventh Doctor-era story, too—there are subtle shout-outs to tales such as "Paradise Towers" and "The Happiness Patrol."
    • The name of the town and the antagonist seems to be a shout out to one of Gilbert and Sullivan's lesser known Operettas, The Sorcerer, in which a wizard named John Wellington Wells uses a potion to cause an entire British town to fall in love with the first person they see, whether they like it or not.
    • One of the Downers on the surface intones, "We are the hollow men..."
    • Mr. Kite and Prudence (aside from one Dr. Robert mentioned in a newspaper article) are a reference to The Beatles. In relation to their side plot, one of the secret messages in telephone booths in the Garden District, when answered, simply repeats "Number 9" over and over again.
    • Other secret messages in the telephone booth are "The rabbit is in the garden", "The rabbit has lost its watch" and "The rabbit has come to tea", etc. These are all references to Alice in Wonderland.
    • Sally references Gwen's first name being derived from Guinevere of King Arthur mythos. Arthur and Percy (Percival) also have their names taken from King Arthur mythos.
    • Sally Boyle is named after Robert Boyle, who is regarded as the first modern chemist and one of the founders of modern chemistry.
    • In one of the letters in Arthur's story, the writer compares what they've seen to something out of Dante.
    • Sally and Arthur's partnership nickname is the Two Musketeers.
    • The Parade District is also known as the Emerald City.
    • The first man Arthur fights in a gladiator fight in an early mission is named Danny Defoe. Daniel Defoe is the name of the author to Robinson Crusoe.
    • Arthur comments "Are you pondering what I'm pondering?" after getting the idea to impersonate Johnny Lightbearer.
    • The boy named Sebastian who was instructed by his parents to escape from the train and hide in the station with the accompaniment of his teddy bear Aloysius are name references to Brideshead Revisited.
    • In the introduction to Sally's story, she's accosted by a Wellie by the name of Spud Murphy.
    • Arthur's Last-Second Ending Choice, if you opt to take the Oblivion pill, is reminiscent of the movie Charly, showing a grown man happily using playground equipment with a blissfully ignorant smile on his face.
    • While trying to get Victoria off of her Joy, Ollie says that he needs her here and "not in Neverland, flying with Wendy and Peter."
    • The doll that Johnny Bolton (the guy playing spy with dolls in his treehouse) and the Puppet Theatre fight over is named Peachy Carnehan, who was played by Michael Caine in 1975 film adaptation of The Man Who Would Be King. He also calls Arthur, "Alfie", another role by Michael Caine.
      • In the same quest, the Puppet Theatre can be heard acting out A Doll's House, which is thematically appropriate since the play explores the difference between having fun and being genuinely happy.
    • Uncle Jack's real name is Jack Worthing after a character from The Importance of Being Earnest.
    • The plague victims specifically quote Beowulf in the original Old English.
    • Various achievements/trophies include: "Shocking Biology", "I Love the Smell of Chloroform in the Morning", "Not In Kansas Any More", "Baby You're a Rich Man", "Gotta Catch Them All!", "Breaking Blackberry", "Resistance is Futile", "You Do Know Jack", "Remember, Remember", "The Slaughterer's Apprentice", and "The Wyrd Sisters".
  • Side-Effects Include...: Why is this trope here? Joy has no side-effects! note 
    • There is also one side-effect that no one, not even Downers, dare talk about, which is most likely infertility. That, or flying into a homicidal rage at the sight of children and pregnant people.
    • The Joy commercial by Haworth Labs includes the following disclaimer at the twelve second mark. Frighteningly enough, the Haworth Labs webpage has a much, much longer disclaimer.
      Ask your Doctor if Joy is right for you. Ha ha - of course it is! Side effects may include skipping, giggling, memory loss, giddiness, confusion, jaunty whistling, catatonia, yellowed fingernails, a hearty spring in your step, homicidal urges, sing-song speech patterns, sudden death, or a cessation of bowel movements. Stop taking Joy if you experience any of these negative symptoms. Then start taking it again as soon as possible.
      • Haworth Labs disclaimer, which the commercial's disclaimer only being a segment from the end of it:
        Do not take Joy if remembering things accurately is important to your career. Joy may interact unpredictably with certain other medications, foods, beverages, and mental states such as: aspirin, applesauce, essence-based sparkling water, and puzzlement. In a small minority of cases, Joy has been associated with an increased risk of deliberate lung puncturing, self-administered tooth extraction, extreme life-choice regret, friendship re-examination, and marital ennui. Death is a common side-effect of regular Joy usage, but in our book, a small price to pay. Do not forget to refill your Joy prescription regularly as running out of Joy can trigger uncomfortable feelings, and uncomfortable feelings are to be avoided at all costs. If you do run out of Joy and find yourself questioning the accepted narrative, be sure to repeat to yourself a comforting rhyme or story from your childhood. If you can’t think of a comfortable rhyme or story from your childhood, just repeat to yourself the following verses, set to the tune of “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory of The Coming of The Lord”: Oh Uncle Jack is working to provide for everyone, he’s captured all the darkness and replaced it all with sun. His broadcasts are the best, his taste in music is unmet, Our Uncle Jack Is Fun.
  • Signature Style: The way each character writes is different. Arthur writes normally and uses a lot of big and complicated words, Sally writes in all lowercase letters and often foregoes punctuation, and Ollie's diaries are entirely in the third person and use nicknames instead of the characters' actual names, except for his final entry, which he writes after finding out that he ratted out Margaret, is written entirely in first person and uses proper names.
  • Signs of Disrepair: In the prologue, Arthur has been waiting so long for Prudence to come back from "holiday" that the "WELCOME BACK" sign he hung in her office has fallen apart and now reads simply "COME BACK".
  • Skewed Priorities: If you sit down to read the newspaper, one of the articles is about how the government is working on making coconut-flavored Joynote , despite already having vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, and there being a food crisis. That said, it's justified; the different Joy flavors exist to try and compensate for bio-chemistry issues which result in some flavors producing allergic reactions, which creates Wastrels. The new coconut and blackberry flavor are supposed to be a "safe" alternative for those who were allergic to the other three.
  • Small, Secluded World: Wellington Wells has cut off communication with the rest of the world after it went on Joy.
    • A document in Arthur's story mentions that it used to trade with farmers just outside of the borders until the farmers got tired of receiving clothes and junk.
    • In Ollie's story, after his base gets blown up, you can go to a nearby phone booth. Strangely, it's playing a static-y radio broadcast of a baseball game in Ireland.
  • Steam Punk: The game mixes mod culture with Victorian themes, as well as British-style dystopian futuristic elements.
  • Stepford Smiler: Pretty much everyone in Wellington Wells, some (such as the Doctors) to the point of having a Slasher Smile.
  • Stepford Suburbia: The general aesthetic of Wellington Wells. The problem is there is too many toxic leaks and control machines everywhere for someone not high on Joy to notice something is wrong.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Deconstructed. Wellington Wells takes this trope to the logical extreme, forcing everyone to maintain a cheerful about-face to the disaster...Or else.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Arthur's former boss, Verloc, Faraday a few other people of authority pace their consumption of Joy so they can have a somewhat clear mind but the employees are all on it 24/7 and the workshop is too big to be operated alone. There is a miner that jokingly says Arthur must be a Downer when he meets him since he has a good head on his shoulder.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: The police-boxes appear to be this at first, but it becomes clear when you go underground that they're more of a pneumatic "rapid-transit" deal.
  • Technically Living Zombie: The Plague wastrels, the late stage of their infection drives them rabid, making them maul any uninfected persons on sight. Not only that, but strangely, the infection made them forget English, instead, they speak and ramble in Irish Gaelic.
  • This Loser Is You: Arthur Hastings, the player character, is a meek, timid man whose character model is absolutely scrawny in comparison with everyone else, his tone of voice makes him sound like he's constantly on the verge of a panic attack, and even when he's (as far as his peers are aware) still on his Joy, his so-called "friends" clearly still dominate him, as seen in the intro regarding the power core for the censorship machine. Thr odd thing is that he is often not panicky and is often pretty brazen. He fights better than almost anyone else. He can lie so convincingly that he can get into places he really shouldn't belong. He even improvisers an entire speech to get into the police station that is just beaming with confidence. It's unknown how much of his story is embellishment and how much is self-deprecating.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Subverted, which is rather rare for an alternate history WWII where the Germans won. Hitler and the Nazi party actually lost control of Germany, and Hitler himself was deposed from power. What was left re-formed into the German Empire and went about invading Europe and the Soviet Union anyways, and actually ended up successfully occupying Britain, partially due to the competence of Germany's new leader and the incompetence of the US president who replaced FDR, who was also assassinated in this alternate history. Despite not being actual Nazis, however, the German Empire apparently does not skimp on cruelty themselves, including taking all of Wellington Wells's children.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Joy doesn't just make the Wellies deliriously happy, it also makes them dangerously delusional and removed from reality. The player gets a major taste of this in the prologue, where the protagonist's Joy wears off and he starts noticing several things amiss. His supposedly pristine office building is actually stuffed with un-filed papers because everyone is too high to keep up on their work. He passes by the office of a coworker "on holiday" and realizes to his horror that she's probably never coming back. Then the kicker - he goes to another coworker's party and takes a few whacks at a piñata, only to realize after it bursts that he's actually been beating a dead rat, which his coworkers are now eating thinking that it's full of candy.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: On top of the Very Bad Thing hinted at in the backstory, there are signs that the seemingly-idyllic society of Wellington Wells is standing on the brink of disaster.
    • The mysterious fog, which seems to be man-made and rolls in only at night, killing those who breathe it in. Someone installed the pipes it flowed out of, and someone is controlling the valves. And from what Arthur can ascertain, it's getting worse with each day.
    • As Ollie finds out, there's a major food crisis going on, which the people are too high to be aware of. When he visits the all-powerful Executive Committee to try to bring their attention to the fact that their citizens are starving, he discovers that the Committee is just as mad as the rest of the town. There's only one person off Joy each day, they have a rotating roster to determine who that is, and the woman in charge that day giggles and says she "might have had a little [Joy]". When Ollie tries to get them to act on the food crisis, the woman says the graphs are just upsetting them and offers him Joy.
  • Uncanny Valley: An intentional, in-universe example. The citizens of Wellington are so obsessed with normalcy that they (rather ironically) somehow manage to twist mundane and familiar elements into something bizarre and creepy. The most obvious example of this are the smile masks they wear, which gives them a perpetual smile. Sometimes this looks fine, but if a character is expressing a different emotion under the mask, it just looks wrong.
  • Unperson: One newspaper story the player can browse mentions a "malefactor" known as Foggy Jack who most certainly does not exist, has never "taken" a constable, and if he did exist, the only people he "took" were misbehaving citizens out after curfew. But he doesn't exist, of course, so everything's fine!
  • Unreliable Narrator: Each of the three protagonists' stories cross over with each other at one point or another, and strangely, what happens in those meetings differs in each story. Particularly with Arthur and Sally's interactions, which paints the respective main character as the victim.
    • When Arthur and Sally reunite for the first time, Arthur being a jerk causes Sally to leave while he's not looking in his story, while he's the one that leaves instead of Sally in her story.
    • When Sally asks Arthur for cod liver oil in his story, it happens in her house and they make up. In her story, it happens outside and they're still uneasy. Additionally, in Arthur's story, Sally tells him that he can get the cod liver oil from Dr. Verloc.
    • In Arthur's story, Sally never tells him about her baby before he leaves her behind. In Sally's story she does tell him, but he walks out anyway.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The brutal enforcement of Wellington Wells' drug policy is meant to prevent widespread depression from the Very Bad Thing they did.
  • Vestigial Empire: It seems that Wellington Wells is the last British city that survived WW2 and serves as sort of de facto capital city of the United Kingdom. Averted in practice, as it's implied it's more that Wellington Wells can't admit the rest of the UK still exists without also admitting the past, and so they ignore it.
  • Water Source Tampering: All water supplies in the Village and the Parade, as well as the V-meat, are laced with Joy, in case you thought you could get away with just not taking it. Sally can filter the Joy out of the water, and using V-meat to make a sandwich takes out the Joy... somehow. The water in the Garden District, however, is absolutely pure, and you can carry some around with you in canteens.
  • Wham Shot: Arthur smashing the piñata only to get sprayed with blood is the exact moment things go downhill... well, either that or the "piñata" turning out to be a dead rat.
  • Why Did You Make Me Hit You?: A variant; the article on a "Breeder Riot" blames the pregnant woman for "causing" the outbreak of violence by having the "audacity" to show off her pregnant stomach, instead of attributing the blame to the drugged-up lunatics who assaulted her for being pregnant.
  • Word of Gay: In-Universe, if Arthur dies, the news article announcing his sudden vacation describes him as a "confirmed bachelor", which is the same term used in a note describing Roger and James, the gay couple living with Doctor Faraday. This doubles as Unreliable Narrator, as Arthur actually used to date Sally Boyle, though he could be bisexual.

     They Came From Below 
  • How We Got Here: The DLC begins with Roger fighting robots that are attacking Wellington Wells. And flashes back to a few hours earlier.
  • Imported Alien Phlebotinum: Doctor Faraday reversed engineered her technology from the robot aliens, and the motilene actually came from their homeworld.
  • Lost Technology: The DLC reveals how a permanently traumatized colony of drug-addled madmen are equipped with the latest in retro-futuristic technology: they stole it from aliens. And now those aliens want payback.
  • Morph Weapon: The Ray Gun can collapse into a baton which steals electrical charge by hitting robots.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The DLC has no randomly generated levels, and crafting items, food, and Joy have been removed. Roger gets a ray gun, which he uses to solve puzzles.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Doctor Faraday enslaved a race of robot people so she could save Wellington Wells from starvation while halting their plans to Kill All Humans and other alien civilizations. Unfortunately, said robot people are built specifically for empathy, don't want to kill humans, and it's her neurotic instructions that are driving them homicidally insane.

     Lightbearer 
  • Actual Pacifist: As Nick is a musician, not a fighter, the worst he'll do to his loony fans is knock them out with his golden records, or make them "mind blown" through the sheer awesomeness of his music.
  • Air Vent Escape: Nick first tries sneaking out of his hotel room this way. He meets a fangirl who used the method sneaking in, but got stuck.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: If the hallucinations Nick has of Vergil are any indication, the latter did not enjoy working for his former boss, but still did his job exceptionally well. An example of this is how the hotel where Nick always holds his yearly fan conventions have always been unable to get the constabulary to ban him, as Virgil always somehow manages to pay, in full, all their bills plus the astounding amounts of damage his fans can cause.
  • Black and Gray Morality: Nick is no saint, being horribly self-centered, a philanderer, and a chronic substance-abuser, among other terrible acts like abandoning his old bandmates when it seems like he'll become a bigger star alone, and treating his Beleaguered Assistant Vergil like absolute crap. He is, however, leagues better than the murderous psychopath Foggy Jack, and says as much himself.
  • Brick Joke: The fan girl that got stuck in the air vents turns out to be key to Nick luring the manager out of his office, and stealing his amplifier back to improve his music. Turns out Nick was going to help her after all, though not for the reasons she'd hoped.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Nick never runs out of Gold Records to throw, but can only throw 8 in quick succession before needing to pull out another box. How he has so many crates on his person is never explained, especially since he was shown taking only one box of them initially.
  • Charm Person: Fittingly for a rock star, Nick's music playing is so entrancing that he can hypnotize his crazed fans into fighting for him.
  • Helpful Hallucination: At certain points, Nick will hallucinate a rat talking with the voice of his agent, Virgil, trying to get him to remember...something.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Nick instantly regains health if he consumes drugs, be it caffeine, alcohol, or Joy. He also experiences their side-effects like blurred vision and impaired balance nigh instantly.
  • Ignored Confession: Nick attempts to use the Look-Alike competition to confess and warn people about his suspected murderous tendencies, but is ignored as people think he's being too "extreme" with Nick's "bad boy" image.
  • Loony Fan: The enemies are fans of Nick, who will attack him if not defeated. Foggy Jack also turns out to be the worst kind, murdering other fans and anyone else that he perceives to be an annoyance or an enemy to Nick.
  • Motif: The recurring musical riff throughout the DLC, which eventually becomes the melody to Nick's newest song, signifying his swearing off drugs and finding new inspiration.
  • Mind Screw: Some levels are clearly caused by Nick overdosing on Joy, making him hallucinate.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Nick eventually assumes he killed someone while overdosed on drugs. He's ultimately wrong, it was just his insane, murderous fan, Foggy Jack.
  • No More for Me: "Clear your head, Nick. No reds, and especially, no yellows."
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: As the identity of "Foggy Jack" is a mystery, we only know him by that name. When you meet the man himself, he doesn't say, either.
  • Power Of Music: As an Unexpected Gameplay Change, Nick can use the music from his guitar to subdue people...somehow.
  • Red Herring: The game strongly makes you suspect, and Nick himself even believes that he is Foggy Jack, the serial killer, committing his murders during his substance-abuse-induced blackouts. He's not, Foggy Jack is an entirely separate person.
  • The Reveal: Foggy Jack is a psychotic superfan of Nick, murdering fans, employees, and even random people who happen to wrong Nick in even the pettiest manners. He also evidently won't hesitate to do the same to Nick when he vehemently disagrees with his plan.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Nick eventually stumbles into a room where he finds the Bellboy suit he stole, after apparently murdering a hapless music store owner. Fittingly, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" is carved all over the walls.
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: Nick can hypnotize his crazed fans to sick them against each other.
  • Shout-Out: Several for The Shining. There is a hotel room where there is an axe embedded in the door (along with a constabulary sign saying "Nothing To See Here"), Nick worries that he is the serial killer Foggy Jack, and even the famous "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" sentence carved all over the walls of a Room Full of Crazy.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: There are no survival meters. You don't craft weapons, instead relying on Nick's guitar and static upgrades that he grabs over the course of the game. You don't really kill your enemies, just make them "mind blown" from excessive exposure to Nick's guitar-playing skills,
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: The DLC opens with Nick waking up in bed, next to a beautiful woman...with blood on his shirt. The rest of the game is him trying to figure out WTF happened. This happens several times over the course of the plot, with a new corpse each blackout.
  • Your Costume Needs Work: Invoked. Initially, Nick attempts to sneak out of the hotel by taking advantage of the Look-Alike Competition, before he realizes that's a stupid idea. Later, Nick attempts to use the competition to warn people about his possible murderous tendencies, only to be dismissed as a terrible Nick impersonator—and attacked by angry fans.

People won't face facts. Not until we take their Joy. And when we do that...they'll murder each other in the street.
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