Alternate history fiction has to have a point of difference to our reality. At times it’s that something worked differently or something that wasn’t was somehow able to be built at the time. Steampunk goes a lot for that style as there has to be a way to advance their technology while at the same time binding them to the old ways of coal and steam. The other strategy is ‘what if?’. Wolfenstein says, what if the Nazis were able to get nukes and use them before the Allies? The Resistance series says what if aliens arrived in Russia during the outbreak of the Cold War. This is a strategy that We Happy Few takes.
We Happy Few is an alternate 1960’s were the Nazis were able to invade Britain. After the invasion, the British resisted (as we would) leading them to doing a “Very Bad Thing”. From that anguish, they wanted to pacify themselves. So comes Joy, a new drug that creates euphoria and helps you forget the ‘bad things’. This is were the world ends up when you start playing.
But even in what if scenarios, there has be a difference point. At times the difference is one single event that changes everything, badly quoting the butterfly effect. And from what I’ve seen in We Happy Few I think I may of seen the difference point. That or I’m looking too far in to all of this. Either way, I find it fun seeing the patterns and making up stories. Anyway, where I think the difference point is; The Col. Von Stauffenberg 20th July plot succeed. In that single difference, the world changed from ours to We Happy Few. Let me explain.
World War Two, 1944; The war is going badly for the Nazis. High ranking officials are starting to turn against Hitler, who they see as who is losing the war and tearing apart the German nation at the same time. On comes Operation Valkyrie. A plot devised by Nazi officials to create civil unrest among the people and officials to oust Hitler and instate a new government. A notable figure in the plot ended up being Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, who thought that the only way to oust the officials and get control of the army was to kill Hitler rather then oust him. On July 20th, Stauffenberg carried two small bombs in a briefcase into an official meeting that Hitler was at with other officials. Stauffenberg was only able to prime one of the bombs in time. Later he excused him self to take a pre-planned phone call and the bombs went off. But with only one set of explosives it failed to kill Hitler. Over the coming weeks, Stauffenberg and the other conspirators were round up and executed. But what if is succeeded?
Stauffenberg, by ‘some’ accounts, didn’t rebel over any moral reasons. At least not moral reasons that we (as the Allies) fought against them. ‘Some’ accounts say he was as much a socialist and nationalist as Hitler but not necessarily a proponent for his genocide. There is also no guarantee that he would have been leader if Hitler was killed. The most likely outcome would have seen Hermann Göring take the leadership role. But if we’re playing with history lets say that the coup on all sides, so including the political coup and rebellion, succeeded as well. It is a possible outcome after all no matter how slim. This is where my alternate reality story begins.
With Stauffenberg now in power and with his nationalistic eye wanting to rebuild his nation after the chaos of Hitler, he continues the war but plays it differently. Instead of differing resources to Hitler’s genocide, he bolsters the military government and police to silence his opposition more openly, (don’t need to look far to see it done today *cough* Turkey coup *cough*). With his regime bolstered and with fresh resources, he is able to succeed were Hitler would of failed. Britain is conquered. This is the lead in point to the instigating events of the Nazis invading Britain as in the back story of We Happy Few goes.
With the Nazis in control, the British start to resist. But with the nationalism that would of come from a Nazi take over, the regime response would have been swift and brutal. So would begin a heightening of force that would have led to an all out civil war. This is were “the bombings” started. Many of the wastrels say “I wish I died in the bombings”. It could also be a reference to the Blitz (which still would of happened as that was in 1940-1941) as the Blitz would be seen as massive destruction to no end by the people if the war was lost in the end. But it also could be a possible call to civil unrest bombings, as what happened not just in the World War Two by the various resistance forces but also in modern history by groups like the IRA in the 1980’s. To misuse Star Wars, disobedience leads to unrest, unrest leads to reprisals, reprisals lead to all out war.
This is were two possibilities could of happened. The reason why there is two possibilities is that the information that can be insinuated from the game is slightly contradicting. One is going off the fact that you hide in the old underground tunnels, with the only underground tube system being in London. The other is being on the islands and fleeing to a mainland which, considering the size of the islands, involves starting off further north nearer Scotland.
The London Possibility:
The civil war fails and the new German led government seize control over all. London is torn apart and ravaged as Nazi officials plunder what they can and the people tear apart what London once was to survive. Their are a few references to this like how the Garden District was before it was plundered, making it sound like a mixture of Kew Gardens, Hyde Park and the London Royal Parks like St. James Park. The rebellion that is left flees to the Underground tunnels (were Hastings ends up) so the government shuts it off in aims to end the rebellion once and for all.
The Islands Possibility:
Seeing all out war and the impending takeover coming, many fled to the many scatterings of islands around the British Isles. There’s the isles of Jersey and Guernsey to the south near Normandy, France, the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea, the many isles just off mainland Scotland like the Isle of Mull and Islay. Or my personal pick for were the game ‘as is’ could reside, the Shetland Isles, north of Scotland in the North Sea. It may also explain why Dr Faraday is a Scot. Although it doesn’t in a way as she’s the only Scot. It could also explain why Uncle Jack puts on a German accent when he says the parts of the Wolf (a murderous character representing the ravages of Nazi rule) when he’s telling the Little Red Riding Hood story. They are free from German rule on the islands so he’s free to do so. From the unconquered isles the resistance can plan their response.
No matter of either possibility, what happens next is sure to have happened. The remaining free British saw one way of war that could end the occupation. By doing an act that no one even in our reality has seen since World War Two. A desolate wasteland to all as poison. Not with a nuke. Would be far to complex for an sole island resistance force to get hold of. Gas would be far simpler. The green mist that poisons even Apple Holm. If the people stayed in London, London would be all but destroyed in act of resistance that would kill millions. An act of not going quietly into the night but also in mass murder. The island possibility would just see the island rebellion do the act to those on the mainland from a openly planned attack. But would it have freed the country?
As it’s occupied by a foreign power, the absolute leader would be in Germany, concentrating on his war against Russia and Stalin. You see in the newspapers in the prologue that there is a heated war against Communism, that possibly being USSR Russia. In the end the attack would have been a token gesture. There would just be a new leader instated by the controlling government. The attack would of failed. Some evidence to this comes from Uncle Jack when he’s telling his story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin and puts on a cockney/Michael Caine accent when saying the parts of the piper who in their version is a brutal responsive character (that could also represent the Bobbies as they also have a slight Cockney accent and he warns people about going out at night when they roam.) Either way, the free British would of conducted an act of mass murder for nothing.
This is were the two possibilities return. If the act was done to a mainland from a free island, the people in control of the island government would instate the Joy drug to quell the people from their grief. The London Possibility is more likely as it could lead to were the game could go in the full release.
As the gas slowly begins to clear, the people return. But from the gas come the plague, a new disease from new plants that have grown from within the gas. To cut off the plague, the remaining land masses that make up the Isle of Dogs are separated. The Thames River is widened and deepened to make sure none can get across even though you still can’t see ‘the mainland’ through the remaining gas fog. A cure is created and the cured people on the island create a new home, Hamlyn. Soon comes in Joy, a new drug that makes the bad feelings go away but also makes the people easer to control. Those that can’t take Joy or those that it’s ineffective on are shunned out of the village. Soon Hamlyn becomes a gated village were the ‘downers’ aren’t shunned but dealt with more swiftly. Their given a ‘holiday’. Soon the whole country is drugged up. But there are those that resist. They still hide in the old tunnels. Uncle Jack just calls them the pipers rats. ‘Their are no people down there. It’s been closed off for years.’ Plague victims, rebels, and downers all scuttling about underground. Gas comes from the manholes in Hamlyn at night. Is it the the rebels gassing the Wellies above or the Wellies gassing the people below? All that is known for sure is that some people decide to not take Joy any more and soon tumble down the rabbit hole, or tumble down stairs that lead to rabbits metal hatch. Soon Hastings will join the rabbit. Either the uncle, the son, or for the love of Prudence.