The spooky, unnerving indie game We Happy Few is getting its very own movie adaptation, reported Variety this week. Gold Circle Entertainment, one of the forces behind the musical Pitch Perfect, has acquired the rights and is working to bring the game to the screen.
We Happy Few takes place in an alternate-history version of 1960s England where citizens are drugged by the government to keep them complacent and ‘happy.’ It’s a bit of Brave New World, Nineteen Eighty-Four, and maybe a dose of A Clockwork Orange. In short, it couldn’t be much more unnerving if it wanted to.
The game is in early access on Steam right now and is headed to both PC and Xbox One. The film is in the early stages of planning, and developer Compulsion Games confirmed that the development tracks of the movie and game are totally separate – the movie won’t be out for years.
But Gold Circle is on to something.
Making a movie based on a big-name franchise seems obvious. Games like Assassin’s Creed have millions of players each year and, at a surface level, they seem to have a lot in common with an action movie. You know, stabbing, yelling, that kind of thing. But indie games might actually be a better fit.
With huge games, not only do you have millions of fans, you have millions of fans engaged deeply with the lore, looking for mistakes and looking for excuses to include the movie adaptation in with the likes of Uwe Boll’s directorial catalog. There’s also an obligation to connect the movie to the game in as many ways as possible. The Doom movie had a first-person sequence. The Super Mario Bros. movie gave the titular siblings jump boots to explain why they could do crazy moves.
With a game like We Happy Few, the game is as much about the atmosphere and story as it is about the gameplay – sometimes more so. Finding indie games that garner lots of buzz like We Happy Few or something like Firewatch and optioning those seems like a good starting point to build up a library of actually good movies based on games, where movie makers can start figuring out how to make the cross-over work without billions on the line.
We Happy Few is heading to Xbox and PC eventually, and the silver screen, later (probably). None of this stuff has release dates, but it’s all on the way.