After testing my teamwork and puzzling skills in the first two entries, Total Mayhem Games are back with We Were Here Together, another procession of increasingly obtuse puzzles that will require some intense co-operation. It can get frustrating – oh boy, can it – but overall it’s a smart set up that encourages working together in ways most modern titles simply don’t.
In case you’ve missed the previous titles (the first was a Games With Gold title a few months back), the We Were Here series forces players to co-operate in order to solve complex puzzles and unlock the next area. Most of the time, each player is confined to their own rooms, and must rely on accurate voice communication from our partner to not only figure out what the puzzle is, but its solution too. In theory, this is done via the in game radios that only allow one person to speak at a time, further encouraging co-operation. It’s certainly a more immersive way to play, but we had issues getting the audio to come through, so fell back on to party chat to talk. This is fine when playing with a friend, and hopefully come launch it’ll be sorted, but if you can’t communicate with strangers should you decide to play online, then there is literally no way to solve the puzzles. It’s definitely best played with a friend, and one that you know well in order to parse some of the instructions coming your way. Each room ups the ante in terms of complexity, and some even throw in timed challenges to force errors and drama upon us – which works rather well, I must say.
All of that remains true of We Were Here Together, but the difficulty feels to have been notched right up. Unlike previous entries, we start off actually together in the same area, but all this did was lead me to a false sense of confidence. As Graham and I ran around like madmen trying to find the next trinket or interaction, it soon became clear that Total Mayhem Games are not planning on taking it easy on us. We needed to explore the opening area fully, and even when we started to make progress, obstacles were thrown our way that would soon had us grinding our gears to figure it out.
After eventually getting out of the joint starting area, things started to fall back into the familiar routine. Separate paths meant we need to communicate effectively, and some of the tests are an absolute bugger to work through. One involving lifts on a pulley system is even more complex than it initially looks – some words were being thrown around, for sure. There are plenty of subtle hints dotted around to help, here manifesting in symbols placed around the lifts themselves. It pays to pay attention to the little details in WWHT, as often they are the key to solving the puzzle at hand. Practically every puzzle will have these small details, and they are easily overlooked as we begin our routine of figuring them out; be mindful of colours, positioning, shape, amount, and many other factors. It really does require accurate descriptions of what each player sees, and what they can interact with. I’m reminded of classic game show The Crystal Maze (ask your parents), except here there’s no wiggle room for those shouting clues to claim the participants weren’t doing it correctly.
An in game note system or log might have proved helpful as an optional offering, as while at certain times notes will be made regarding our progression, it all falls to memorising clues in order to succeed. A real world note pad is a must, then. We must admit to using… outside sources at times to help us when we really were stuck, but thankfully that was the exception rather than the rule, and of course the solution was usually obvious once we’d seen it.
WWHT feels a lot longer than previous entries too; where we beat those is a single sitting, here we played over a couple of nights instead. Some of the later puzzles are not so much complex as they are obtuse, with twisting pipes confusing both players perspectives, or a solution to a puzzle hidden behind two other puzzles in the same room. It can be immensely satisfying to crack the code mind, and hearing that little success jingle brings a welcome sigh of relief.
We Were Here Together is a solid example of out of the box, co-op thinking. The puzzles can get a bit too clever for their own good at times, and if you’re not playing with a good friend I’d imagine the frustration will only amplify; but get a reliable buddy, grab you’re note book and there’s plenty of brain teasing fun to be had here.
This game was reviewed based on Xbox One review code, using an Xbox One console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.