I like puzzle games, but I hardly ever play them. When a friend showed me We Were Here Together, however, the charming graphics and fun first person co-op gameplay got me interested. Spoilers: we remained friends after we finished it.
I believe my love for the two Portal games and a craving for Portal 3 that will never happen (Valve, please) had me willing to try out We Were Here Together.
I knew nothing about it. Only after looking into it, I found out it was the third entry in a successful series. Since I don’t often play puzzle games, it’s not surprising they passed my attention, and now I kinda regret it.
So, if you don’t usually engage in these sort of brain teasers, here’s why you should give this one a shot.
Communication Is Key And That’s The Beauty of It
The game provides each player in-game with a walkie talkie, and that should provide enough of a clue what the puzzles are going to be all about: communication. Instead of making the usual type of in-game chat with a voice booming from the sky, they introduced actual walkie talkies, complete with the clicks, static, and inability to both speak at the same time. It’s charming. It’s great. Use Discord.
If you’re playing with a friend, you’re going to want to talk at a constant. It’s paramount that you have good communication. It’s the most frustrating point and yet the best at the same time. It’s completely immersive for both players.
Together But Apart
Unlike most co-op games, this one won’t make you stare at puzzle for 10 minutes until one of you yells “eureka!” and then guides the other player through it. No. In We Were Here Together, you have to play together and each of you needs to figure out their own section of the puzzle. Why? Because, ironically, We Were Here Together actually separates you and your friend, often outside of each other’s sight.
This is one of the best things about the game. It makes both players completely engaged in the puzzles. So, don’t think you’ll be on your phone scrolling through Facebook when the challenge becomes too tough while your friend figures it out. That won’t work. Get out a piece of paper and a pen and start jotting things down.
Same goes both ways. You can’t help your friend through their section of the puzzle, so you’ll have to keep communicating what you see in order to help them out.
My friend happened to always be the one who needed saving while I had to quickly scramble to figure out my puzzle before she died. You could argue the pressure was sometimes a little heavier on my side. Then again, she was the one being drowned or electrocuted, so it’s all about perspective, I guess.
The Blind Leading The Blind
As I said before and I will repeat, We Were here Together is all about communication. You’re both in separate rooms, without an option to see what the other is looking at, so you’ll have to be very descriptive and try to figure out which details are important. This is where the fun and frustration start.
On one hand, pronouncing some of the made-up words or describing highly abstract paintings can be funny. On the other, how can she describe the elongated star-like triangle as a ‘sun’ while the sun is clearly the big circle symbol surrounded by other tiny circles?! Because the sun is a star, of course…
This is where the headache comes in. It can become very frustrating, but the payoff is big when you hear that acoustic guitar announcing you’ve beaten the puzzle.
The challenge lies in communication. If you share visuals through photos, then it all comes together and it’s basically takes away half of the puzzle. We’ve done this at the very last one, as it was obviously made by someone who wanted us to suffer. Mission accomplished.
Trial and Error
The puzzles are great. They’re beautiful, creative, entertaining, and the challenge scales nicely the further you get into the game. While We Were Here Together is not long by any means (it only has 10 chapters), the puzzles are varied enough that you don’t notice.
Each one of them is unique and challenges the players in different ways. You’ll hardly run into the same type of system twice. So, forget what you’ve learned the previous level because it won’t help you on the next one. This is absolutely terrific for a puzzle game.
However, I do have a gripe with it. The way it’s created, some levels will force you to fail multiple times in order to get to the result. Granted, I’m not doing puzzles all the time, so I’m probably not the best at them, but I did get a sense that there was no way to solve it without failing.
Some levels did prompt frustration because they couldn’t be solved on the first try. They’re created that you have to die a couple of times in order to even see the solution. It made us call ‘bs’ when we were done with them. They seem to be made that way, especially timed sections.
We Were Here Together is incredibly fun to play through over a weekend with a friend. It’s engaging, charming, equally challenging and frustrating, and it’s good even for those of us who don’t play puzzle games frequently. In fact, I’d say it’s perfect for us. The style encourages teamwork and prevents the common phenomenon of one player taking control of the puzzle and running with it.
So, whether you play a lot of puzzle games or not, this one will definitely keep you both engaged. You’re going to get frustrated, as most do in co-op games, but it’ll definitely be worth it the time and price. Personally, after finishing it, I’m going to play the previous two entries in the series as well.
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