The Happy Hereafter is essentially Virtual Villagers - Lite set in Halloween Town. Don't get me wrong, it's a good game on its own. But there are a few lacking components and bugs that make it not as impressive as other similar titles in the genre.
For starters, it's incredibly short. So short, that I finished it in two nights. If you follow the quest order you can probably get another hour or so out of it, but that isn't a good thing. There are a lot of stretches of time where you're doing nothing but waiting. It certainly isn't as long or as tedious as Facebook games, but it lacks item collection or achievements like Virtual Villagers to help pass the time. If I had known from the start to improve resource gathering facilities the second the tech was available, I probably could have shaved off almost another hour of play.
Second, the bugs. And there are more than a few that can be annoying, if not progress slowing. On occasion there are times where villagers stop gathering from resources at the bottom of the map. While it makes sense for them to stop gathering when a resource has run dry and is in the process of regenerating, they don't always stop for this reason. I found myself at the start of the game constantly having to reassign someone to harvest wood at trees because they just decided to stop working after collecting one load. With a little luck I was able to get them to automatically harvest, as they are supposed to, but it did get annoying and tedious, especially at the start when you are entirely reliant on these nodes for resources.
Another bug that is annoying, but not game breaking in any way, re units sliding around or getting stuck on decorations. Sometimes when you tell a unit to harvest something, it will show the gathering animation but they will slide all the way back to the town square. This doesn't prevent them from completing their job, but it is annoying. Also, idle units have a habit of getting stuck under things. Benches, lights, buildings. It is easily fixed by picking them up and telling them to do something, and doesn't harm your production since they were idle, but it is another minor annoyance that one would think could be easily fixed.
The characters are interesting and it's obvious that a great deal of effort was put into their creation, but they are sadly under-utilized. Each character has one, maybe two quest chains, that are incredibly short, and then they are never used again. The mermaid has I think 3 or 4 quests, spread across two "chains." I say "chains" simply because the first chain has 2-3 quests for her and the second is a single quest given by the witch. Once completed you will never see her again. It's sad to see detailed characters and environments used so sparingly.
Ultimately, I have to say this game is a "Pass." While it can be fun, for its length, bugs, and simple play-style, there are just better games of the same genre. At sale price, it was a nice distraction; at full price it would still be ok, but for a few dollars more you can get similar games with more depth and over-all entertainment.