As a huge fan of co-op puzzlers, I’m a little bit annoyed at myself for taking this long to finally play through the We Were Here series of games. With the recent release of the first three titles on the PlayStation 4 (as well as the announcement of the fourth coming later this year), I finally put on my parka coat and goggles, grabbed a radio, and, of course, a co-op partner to help me, as I traversed through the treacherous cold and reached Castle Rock.
Or, to put it more accurately, I finally decided to play through We Were Here with a friend.
We Were Here is an online co-op puzzler where two players have to work together in order to escape a conundrum-filled castle. There’s a catch, though: you’re both working from two different locations, so have to communicate with one another via radio in order to give each other the clues required in order to solve each enigma in your path.
One player takes on the role of the explorer (who deals with the more physical-based actions) and the other the librarian (who gives instructions and unravels clues), with each playing a pivotal role to your success in escaping from the castle. I wouldn’t say that one role is more fun to play over the other either, with each bringing with them plenty of variety and requiring a lot of player ingenuity to get through each challenging scenario.
The co-op elements of We Were Here were great throughout, with good communication proving vital to your success in the game. Both players will have to make each other fully aware of everything that’s around them, with even the most minor of details often proving to be an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to providing the other player with the necessary information to progress.
This was something that you’ll notice with the very first puzzle, where I (taking on the role of the explorer) had to let my buddy know the colours of two different symbols that were on the top of a wall. After this, he had to cross reference them with information he had on his side to determine two buttons I had to press, which in turn unlocked the door for me to progress to the next puzzle.
On another occasion I was faced with a giant chessboard full of movable pieces – it didn’t take too much effort to work out that my co-op partner would have to tell me where to move them. The thing is, he could only see them on a projector screen that played a video quite quickly, so actually pin-pointing the exact order of pieces that I had to move and by how many spaces took a fair bit of effort and careful communication. Oh, and it all took place out in the freezing cold, so the longer we took to solve it the more covered with ice my screen would become… it was a clever (but dastardly) touch.
Admittedly, most of the puzzles found in We Were Here are pretty easy to solve, with very few leaving us scratching our heads for too long. That doesn’t mean that we didn’t enjoy solving them though, with the simplicity of the experience really lending itself well to the communication-focused gameplay. It took us around an hour to beat the game in total, and honestly, every minute of that was spent with big smiles on our faces as we unravelled each mystery in our path.
The short length was a little bit disappointing (mainly because we wanted more), though the cheap price of the game (it’s £3.99 on the PlayStation Store right now) means you certainly won’t feel short-changed by the experience. It’ll certainly leave you itching for more, though the fact that the second and third games in the series also released at the same time helps there… expect reviews for those very soon.
It is worth mentioning that replayability is low, though. Whilst there are two different roles to play in the game, it’s not as enjoyable to swap them around for a second playthrough – especially since you’ll understand exactly how the puzzles work. Whilst there is some element of randomness to be found with each puzzle’s solution per playthrough, the concept of solving them remains the same.
Whilst my time with We Were Here was certainly enjoyable, I did have one or two technical hitches whilst setting up a co-op game. There was one point where we kept hitting a network error, whilst on another occasion we couldn’t return to a checkpoint after failing a puzzle. This meant we had to leave the game and create a new one all over again, which was a bit of a pain… at least it allowed us to resume at a previous checkpoint though, which was a big relief.
The presentation of We Were Here wasn’t always the best either. Whilst it looked decent enough in-game, the castle environment didn’t really have a whole lot of variety to be found within its brick walls. Sure, some of the puzzles added something different, but it was a lot of the same throughout. The cinematics were also a bit naff and seemed to have been severely compressed. In fairness, there aren’t too many cinematic sequences in the game to complain about this too much, but it’s certainly noticeable during the game’s opening and ending sequences.
It’s a little rough around the edges, but We Were Here still offers a genuinely enjoyable co-op puzzling experience that’s very clever in design.
Don’t get me wrong, most of the puzzles are simple enough to solve with a bit of team-work and it is guilty of being a little bit short, but We Were Here did more than enough to keep a big smile on mine and my co-op partner’s faces as we unravelled all of its conundrums. It certainly has us excited to see what else the series would bring in its subsequent releases…
Developer: Total Mayhem Games
Publisher: Total Mayhem Games
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Click here to visit the official website.