We Were Here Together (PC) Review

By Nikola Suprak 12.08.2020

Review for We Were Here Together on PC

Something that has been sorely missing from gaming these days, are true cooperative experiences. Sure, there are plenty of ways to play with friends, but most of them involve various ways to put bullets inside of their body, while you do the cabbage patch over their corpse. It is much harder to find cooperative experiences, and outside of hits like Portal 2 or Overcooked, it's not easy to find games that are meant to be played with friends. The 'We Were Here' series is a frequently overlooked bunch of titles that falls right into this niche, and the most recent release, We Were Here Together, feels like a nice continuation of where the previous two games left off. It does feel like a bit of a step back from the past two entries, but with so few cooperative experiences out there, it is hard not to give this game a second look.

While the previous 'We Were Here' titles don't really need to be played to enjoy this, it will make the experience a bit more cohesive, even if this can stand alone on its own. The story is fairly basic, and essentially you and your friend (or random partner from the Internet) are a couple of explorers that have found their way to a long-abandoned castle. There is some sort of castle with some sort of curse - or maybe not, it really doesn't matter. Whether the castle is haunted or just under poor management, whoever used to be in charge clearly had a fondness for puzzles, as there are a bunch spread throughout this six-eight hour experience that serve as barriers for getting deeper into the castle. There were some interesting bits in the story in the past two games, but this one didn't really have the same attention to detail and the plot itself is pretty barebones, with the attention more squarely put on the gameplay.

We Were Here Together continues in the tradition of the previous installments, and is focused on solving a series of increasingly difficult puzzles. The goal is to move from room to room in the castle, and in order to progress there will be some puzzles in your way. Cooperation is key here, and while both players will be together at times, a huge component is each player being in a separate area and needing to work together to solve some joint puzzle. Some parts are fairly simple and will require each one to just match symbols, or something along those lines. Others will be more complex, and some puzzles require players to swap out items that they won't even know the other has. Communication is key, and the first thing you'll need to do upon entering a new area, is describe what there is in order to give each player a hint at what they might need to do.

Screenshot for We Were Here Together on PC

What really helps the game stand out is that this isn't a traditional puzzle game, and it does a lot of things that aren't really found in other games. The focus here is on multiplayer puzzles, and there are roughly five other games that have such an intense focus on cooperative puzzle-solving like this. It is a really interesting approach to game design, and even when this struggles at times, it is still a good amount of fun, just because working together on a puzzle like this is inherently exciting. It is reminiscent of a real life escape room at times, and the way the puzzles are designed are unlike almost anything else in video games. Every now and then it is great to just have a co-op gaming experience like this, although it essentially requires a friend to play along with. Matching with randoms is a recipe for disaster, and this isn't fun without someone else to enjoy it.

The only thing holding this back from being a true classic, is how the strength of their puzzle design is a bit lacking. A lot of these are fairly straightforward, and players are going to be able to figure them out just by talking for a couple of seconds. There just weren't too many that felt like a real challenge. On the other hand, this doesn't always do a good job explaining what exactly it wants, and some of these puzzles are more just trying to figure out what the game is asking for. Sometimes trying to figure out exactly what needs to be done without a hint or a real sense of direction can be fun, but other times it borders on frustrating especially when the game just sort of sits there in the corner, with its arms folded while it grumpily refuses to help.

…And that right there is the true downfall of We Were Here Together. A lot of puzzles are too easy, and some are too confusing, and almost none fall in that nice soft gooey middle of challenging but rewarding that a puzzler like this needs to be built around. It feels like the developer didn't get the most out of the available mechanics, and the underlying design philosophy seems to be "well, communication can be hard." It just doesn't always do a great job expanding upon that in a fun way. The game is undeniably clever, and it really is a good amount of fun to play through with a friend the first time. At the same time though, the lack of really good, clever puzzles is a noticeable shortcoming, and it is particularly disappointing, because the first two entries were much better on that front, therefore it is absolutely within this developer's wheelhouse to put in some better puzzles.

Screenshot for We Were Here Together on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

This isn't quite Portal 2 levels of co-op bliss, but it comes somewhat close, and manages to be a decent way to kill a weekend with a friend. The puzzles aren't quite as good as the previous two titles in the series, and they would occasionally vacillate between being too easy or too vague. That winds up hampering what was otherwise a perfectly enjoyable experience. Still, if a fan of co-op gameplay and puzzle-solving, this is a borderline must-buy, because there are so few titles out there that satisfy this particular niche. We Were Here Together falls just short of the snowy peaks it was aiming for, but it is fun and interesting, and really stands out for emphasizing co-op puzzle-solving in a way few games have. So, go out and have some fun. Together.

Developer

Total Mayhem Games

Publisher

Total Mayhem Games

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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