Story Mode is a gameplay mode in We Happy Few. It was not available to players during Early Access, but was added to the game when it released on August 10, 2018.
The story is split into three Acts, with Arthur's being the longest and Ollie's being the shortest. Each Act focuses on the different paths and viewpoints of each character, the timeline between the Acts do not line up with each other and are made to be disjointed on purpose. The major differences can be found when Arthur and Sally meet.
The first Act focuses on Arthur Hastings, the typically unremarkable everyman who one day while at work finds an article regarding him and his long lost brother, Percival Hastings. This distraughts Arthur and causes him to refuse to take Joy and become a Downer, the name of the outcasts of this strange land.
The player has to complete the tutorial section, Barrow Holm, before being able to enter Eel Pie Holm and be able to roam around freely. The player will learn about combat, distraction, sneaking, conformity, health, food, water and poisoning in Barrow Holm.
As Arthur makes his way around the districts, he, along with the player, can explore the land and learn what has happened over the years. The further Arthur goes, the more he will remember of what actually happened to Percy.
While he believes at first that the constables had his birth date mixed up, he realizes while talking to Ollie that he had actually lied his way off the train. Later he finds out that the inspector that he had lied to all those years ago called him by his brother's name instead of his own, raising further suspicion on what had really happened.
The Act will end with Arthur remembering exactly what had happened to Percy, this leaves him visibly distressed and regretful, admitting that he will never be able to be forgiven for what had happened. The inspector will assure Arthur that remembering and moving forward should be seen as a gift before continuing to escort him out of Wellington Wells.
Arthur is regarded as the easiest to play compared to the other characters, Arthur is capable of using both mechanical and chemical sets without needing outside sources. He is equally focused on stealth as with combat, this allows the player to experiment with the world whichever way they please. Arthur has barely any downsides to his skills compared to the others.
The second Act focuses on Sally Boyle, the brilliant, popular chemist who decides it's best for her and her daughter to escape Wellington Wells as her work has gotten far more dangerous and is risking their lives.
After an accident with her chemical brewing and one of her clients going berserk in her lab, Sally needs to venture out in the world to retrieve all of the ingredients necessary to create the new batch of Blackberry, a special flavour of Joy that the law enforcement and other special people in power takes. All while also taking care of her baby daughter's needs.
While the player has met Sally before during the first Act, it is in this Act where the player learns more about her as a character and the situation she is in, they will also learn that the events between where the characters meet up are slightly different and don't match up well.
There are also small details in the world that show the differences between the Acts, the biggest one is during the quests involving Nick Lightbearer, as while when playing as Arthur, he sees Nick get accidentally electrocuted by a Power Cell in the bath, this renders him dead. Though when playing as Sally, she can find him in the bath, though assumes he is simply unconcious as she never saw what really happened to him.
While she finds all ingredients to make Blackberry and finally creates it, she now has to venture out and find a cure for Gwen Boyle's measles problem, requiring Cod Liver Oil. In exchange for the oil, Sally now has to go out and get the Letter of Transit from Robert Byng and give it to Arthur.
The Act ends with Sally sneaking out of Wellington Wells at night with Gwen hidden in a doctor's bag that she needed to buy from Lionel Castershire, get down the secret boat house belonging to General Byng, get in the boat and ride their way out of Wellington Wells.
Sally, and her daughter, will finally be free from the powerful external pressures who forced them to conform to the city's needs, though this ultimately costed the well being of those still in the city, who cannot function without her special services now that she is gone for good.
Sally is mildly more difficult compared to Arthur, she is light and therefore cannot carry heavier weapons and, is also slower when carrying bodies. She isn't very good with tinkering and cannot craft any mechanical or clothing items without needing to go to the stores around town.
The player will have to actively pay attention to when Gwen needs to be fed or get changed, refusing to care for her is sure to cause Sally to get worn down and have a difficult time carrying out tasks.
Sally cannot choke people out and therefor has to resort to knockout syringes to do the work. Her playstyle is more so focused on stealth than combat.
The third and last Act involves Ollie Starkey finding out the truth about the tanks at the Memorial Camp, which leads to him heading over to discuss with Victoria Byng about the situation of Wellington Wells, hoping to finally get the truth out for the residents, that they are going to starve to death unless they decide to do something about it.
Throughout the Act, he hallucinates the young Margaret Worthing who acts as his voice of reason in situations.
When he finds that Miss Byng doesn't want to discuss the truth either, he decides to take matters to his own hands and head over to the Broadcast Tower in the Parade District, wanting to have Uncle Jack inform the public of the situation of the city.
When he arrives he finds the place ransacked, no Jack in sight, he will find a tape where it reveals that Jack himself began to remember the past and ended up thrashing the studio.
In a final act of releasing the tape to the public and letting everybody know the truth, Ollie's Act ends with him escaping Wellington Wells via an air balloon he stole from the Jacobean Society.
Ollie is argueably the most difficult to play as, he has diabetes which plays as a core game mechanic for his character, keep it balanced and there shouldn't be any problems. It does run down fairly quickly though.
Ollie, unlike Sally and Arthur, won't be able to rely on skills to act innapropietly on the streets, meaning the player is forced to conform. Ollie is, however, the strongest out of the main characters, so combat is a breeze.
He cannot use the chemistry set, therefor needing to get drugs and other chemical items from shops.
The end of the game will show a cutscene of Arthur and Chief Inspetor Peters walking on the bridge out of Wellington Wells, Arthur ends up hearing Percy's cries and laments how heinous he truly is. The Constable notes that some people are better prepared than others to handle the truth and the guilt and anguish that comes with it.
He offers Arthur an Oblivion Pill that will make him completely and permanently forget everything. The player is once again given the choice between taking and not taking the pill, this choice mirrors the choice given at the start of the game. To Remember or to Forget.
After the credits, it will show another cutscene of Arthur walking down a path saying "Lovely day for it" to nobody, he then gets distracted by the presence of a young boy. He attempts the same greeting on him, though the boy resopnds by saying it's actually been quite a shit day, to which Arthur agrees with.
Game Mode Differences
Story Mode, unlike Survival or Sandbox Mode, is reliant on the quests present in each playthrough progressing the journey. The player doesn't need to worry about starving, dehydrating or being too fatigued, as these effects don't cause them to enter the dying stage and instead only cuts off part of their stamina bar.
Oddly enough, the time is slightly altered, while the minutes in game go by each second in Survival and Sandbox Mode. The minutes in game go by after 10 seconds in Story Mode, and the player doesn't get fatigued as quickly during Story Mode.
Survival and Sandbox has the wellies perform special actions that they are not found doing during Story Mode, there's also soldiers and Jacobean members patrolling the streets as well.
There are noticeable changes between Acts when playing as each character, the most noticeable are the ones with the cutscenes. For when playing as Arthur, he cannot see Ollie talking to Margaret, meanwhile when playing as Ollie, he can.
When playing as Arthur, he sees Sally as the confident, caring and seducive friend he's always known her as, meanwhile when playing as Sally, she's far more douptful of herself and truly believes she's a terrible mother. She sees Arthur in a more stern and aggressive light, being far more harsh towards her than he was when playing as him, as then he was more apologetic and awkward.
The place in which they hang out changes too, Arthur meets Sally at her home while Sally meets Arthur in the Garden District. There are more smaller details that have changed that the player is able to discover for themselves.
With these differences, it's safe to say that each character the player takes control of are meant to be unreliable narrators, it's hard to tell who is truly right of what precisely happened and if their viewpoints of other people, the environment and themselves can truly be percieved as fact.
Compulsion Games was aware that early access had worked well for games that lacked a strong narrative, and thus focused the initial development within early access on the survival elements, planning to hold back on the narrative elements until late in the process as they did not want to reveal the full story until later. Compulsion Games also found it difficult to convince players that story elements were coming for the game's final release.
Compulsion learned that players from early access were much more interested in the game's narrative over the game's survival or roguelike mechanics. At one point, the studio tried to remove the survival elements, leaving only the action-adventure gameplay, but felt this affected the balance and flavor of the title, since Wellington Wells was meant to be a society on the verge of collapse due to dwindling resources. Instead, they added in some of the basics of survival gameplay: instead of potentially killing the player character, factors like nourishment and rest will buff the character if satisfied or debuff them if not met, and the permadeath facet was taken out, made as an option for more hard-core players.
Narrative director Alex Epstein felt the added time to make the changes helped to make the game more cohesive, making it felt that the main story and the various procedurally generated side narratives were part of a wholly singular game rather than disparate pieces.