A core element of We Happy Few is Joy, an addictive hallucinogenic drug used by most of the citizens of Wellington Wells. If the player opts to have their character use Joy, they will see the town in a colorful, joyful environment, and will be able to walk through the town without attracting undue attention from its citizens, but this does impair some of the character's abilities. As their Joy depletes, the town will revert to its dismal, war-torn state, and while the character will have full control of their abilities, they will be seen as a "downer", an enemy of Wellington Wells, and either must fight off the "Wellies" police force through melee, or use stealth to sneak around the town; furthermore, the player-character will suffer withdrawal effects from coming off Joy, impacting their health and thirst. Should the player-character take too much damage from enemies or the environment, they will have to restart at a recent checkpoint. Optionally, the game allows the player to enable permadeath, requiring them to restart the game should the player-character die. The player also must consider the type of residents in each district within Wellington Wells and make sure they also do not stand out due to clothing or other appearance aspects. Residents of a wealthy district may become suspicious of the player-character if they are dressed in rags, even if they have taken their Joy.