I didn’t think I’d be jumping into another We Were Here title so soon after playing through the latest entry earlier this year on console, but Total Mayhem Games have given players a surprise with the release of We Were Here Expeditions: The FriendShip. Acting as a spin-off of the main series, this is more of a bite-sized experience that takes players outside of Castle Rock, but it doesn’t make the co-operative puzzle-solving gameplay any less engrossing.

Check out some screenshots here:

We Were Here Expeditions: The FriendShip takes players out of the familiar setting of Castle Rock and into somewhere a bit more intriguing, with them instead stepping foot into an abandoned amusement park that still has ONE ride in operation. That ride acts as a trial of your friendship with your co-op buddy, with it setting players through three different challenges that’ll test your teamwork skills in a variety of ways. If you succeed and pass all puzzles in a blaze of glory? You’ll build yourself a glorious boat that’ll survive the perils that await you at the end of the ride. And if you whimper your way to the end with minimal teamwork and effort? Well… maybe your final voyage won’t be so wonderful.

It sets a different tone to the other titles in the series from the moment you enter the amusement park, which helps We Were Here Expeditions: The FriendShip set itself apart from its predecessors. Don’t get me wrong, it’s clear from the get-go that you’re playing a We Were Here game, but the more unusual nature of your tale makes for a different yet equally charming experience. There’s a quirky narrative that’ll keep players invested, and whilst the stakes don’t feel quite as high as one of the mainline entries, it definitely offers one of the more imaginative locales that I’ve explored across the whole series.

“The series has been guilty of including a couple of puzzles that feel overly cryptic in the past, but the minimal and more streamlined setup here offers the perfect difficulty to ensure that they’re testing but still fun to solve.”

Given that this is a more bite-sized take on the established formula, We Were Here Expeditions: The FriendShip is on a much smaller scale than other entries in the series, with just three main puzzles to work through (as well as a few little ones as you make your way into the amusement park). Fortunately, those puzzles are well designed and each offer something completely different to challenge player’s capabilities, so the brevity doesn’t mean you’re in for an easier time. The series has been guilty of including a couple of puzzles that feel overly cryptic in the past, but the minimal and more streamlined setup here offers the perfect difficulty to ensure that they’re testing but still fun to solve. It’s definitely a good place for newbies to start, so don’t be put off if you’re unfamiliar with the series.

I’ll keep the details to a minimum here, but you can expect a puzzle that’ll demand quick and concise communication from each player (as well as good observation skills), a puzzle that’ll demand coordination as your each arrange a separate set of tiles and pegs, and a puzzle that’ll demand trust from both players as one of you works through a perilous obstacle course whilst the other dishes out instructions. I’ve really simplified the experience there because each puzzle brings with it plenty of nuances to keep players scratching their head, whilst they also bring a few little surprises that’ll ensure you don’t want to get TOO far ahead of yourself without checking in with the other player (that obstacle course puzzle REALLY threw my partner off at one stage when he decided not to listen to my directions). They’re all well designed and will keep players laughing with both the successes they achieve and (more often than not) the failures they suffer.

Check out some screenshots here:

There’s a twist this time too: each puzzle is graded, with your success or progress through it either rewarding you with a bronze, silver, or golden ticket based upon your performance. This means you don’t necessarily have to complete a puzzle to full completion in order to progress, though this will be detrimental to your overall grading by the time you reach the end of the game. Admittedly, this is something I wasn’t all that interested in. Maybe it’s my competitive side not willing to settle for anything less than a golden ticket, or maybe it’s because I felt that not fully completing each puzzle was like I was missing out on something? The game offers infinite retries on a puzzle too, so if you only have a bronze or silver ticket upon completion, you can try again as many times as you want. And, admittedly, I had to, especially on the first and third puzzles, but I can’t imagine there’ll be many players at all who are willing to settle for anything lower than gold. Whilst it’s a neat idea and it ties into the overall theme of We Were Here Expeditions: The FriendShip, I didn’t care for it all that much from a gameplay perspective.

It didn’t stop me from having a blast playing through We Were Here Expeditions: The FriendShip though, with this more streamlined and bite-size take on the puzzling offering a wonderful new direction for the series. It took close to two-hours to beat whilst getting golden tickets on everything, so it’s a decent length too. Best of all, it’s having a free period at launch, meaning anyone can grab a co-op partner and experience the wonders that the series has to offer (it’ll be £2.99 when the free period is over which still feels like a bargain). Hopefully, it’ll be enough of a success that this ‘expedition’ won’t be the last one we see in the We Were Here universe…

We Were Here Expeditions: The FriendShip Review

We Were Here Expeditions: The FriendShip might be bite-sized, but its puzzling is just as charming and clever as that found in the mainline series. In fact, the more streamlined setup of the game might actually appeal to more players, especially since the puzzles are a bit more straightforward and less cryptic than fans of the series will be used to.

You’ll still see your puzzle-solving and communication skills challenged though and the game also maintains the high standard of creativity that the series is known for, so don’t expect an easy ride as you put your (friend)ship to the test. It’s a really enjoyable experience and one that both series fans and newbies are sure to love – just don’t get too mad at your partner if they make any puzzle-busting mistakes…

Developer: Total Mayhem Games
Publisher: Total Mayhem Games
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC
Website: https://totalmayhemgames.com/