STAFF REVIEW of We Were Here Together (Xbox One)

Friday, June 12, 2020.
by Adam Dileva

We Were Here Together Box art Little shy of a year ago, I got my first taste of the We Were Here series. The result? A lot of swearing at my co-op friend. like, a LOT. If you’ve ever wanted to test the communication skills between you and a friend to see how strong your friendship really is, then We Were Here Together, the third game in the series, is here to do just that. A co-op puzzle game where communication is paramount and absolutely necessary, We Were Here Together will test not only your puzzle solving skills with obtuse and challenging problems, but also teach you how hard to can be to describe the simplest objects you see in front of you.

Similar to the first two entries, We Were Here Together puts you and a co-op partner together on a new adventure, only to be separated once again as you work your way further towards your goal. There’s a minor narrative within that tries to piece together a motive as to why you’re doing what you are, and while I applaud the effort, it’s honestly a shoestring story with some cutscenes thrown in here and there to break up the puzzles between chapters. When you don't see a cutscene for an hour or two because that's how long you've been stuck on a puzzle, it loses a little of its impactfulness.

An online only cooperative adventure, We Were Here Together is played in first person where you’re only armed with your wits and a walkie talkie radio to your partner. Along the way you’ll be separated from your partner, but will need both parties to partake in solving a singular puzzle in their own rights, sometimes even under the pressure of a timer. What makes this setup unique is that since you and your partner are separated the majority of the time, you’re unable to see what your partner can see and their surroundings, and vice versa, so this is where strong communication comes into play and is an absolute neccessity.

There’s not much to learn in terms of controls, as you move and look with the sticks, interact with the ‘A’ button and use your radio by holding the ‘Left Bumper’. These radios are old, so they are only one-way, meaning only one person can talk at a time. When your partner is talking the light on your radio will shine, indicating they are speaking. When you speak, their radio will light up. This is meant to cause any unneeded chatter and to make sure you focus on what they are saying when they are speaking. The game even says that you should be playing with the game chat so that the radios can be used. Yes, technically you could simply talk in an Xbox Party chat for constant communication, but there’s something about the one way radio chatter that makes your communication more pertinent given the setting.

Now one thing to keep in mind is that you’re going to want a friend to play with. Yes, you can technically create an open lobby and have some random person join you, but even with a friend with communication skills, it was hard enough; I wouldn’t even want to attempt it with a stranger. You’re going to have to describe nearly everything you see in your room to your partner, and they will have to do the same, that way you can come up with the solution together. Are there books on the floor that are numbered? How does that relate to your partner’s room? They might have a bunch of random symbols on the wall or a recipe on how to grow specific plants, so they’ll need to communicate that to you so you can figure out how that pertains to what’s in your room and figure out how to progress. Once you’re successful you’ll almost always have that great “ah-hah!” moment, realizing how dumb you were for the last hour before figuring it out, or in my case, how terrible your partner was at describing the easiest objects.

Nearly almost everything in the puzzle rooms have meaning, though there was one puzzle in particular where there were extra items that didn’t pertain to the main solution, which was a bit frustrating to find out after the fact. Every puzzle will stump you in the beginning, but pay attention to all of the smallest details and you’ll eventually figure them out, even if it takes a lot of trial and error. One aspect I didn’t enjoy as much in this sequel though is that there seemed to be a bit more timed puzzles. While each one becomes increasingly more difficult and involved, the ones that had a short timer to solve were the most frustrating and tense.

Visuals seemed slightly improved from last year’s outing, though it won’t impress by any means. The animations, especially with the wave and pointing emotes seem much smoother this time, and while there’s no dialogue for your characters, the sound effects and ambiance is done quite well, with minor sounds like cracks or electricity coming through quite well, though maybe that’s because of the immense concentration I had while trying to focus on each puzzle.

If you enjoy puzzles games and have a like-minded friend, then We Were Here Together should definitely be looked at. I figured that since I reviewed the previous game with a friend, I would try this one with a different one to see if I had the same result in communication breakdowns. Sad to say, the results were almost identical, even with a completely different friend this time around. When frustration sets in and things don’t make sense, I promise you, you’re going to end up blaming your co-op partner, regardless if it’s their fault or not. We Were Here Together will give a cooperative adventure unlike any other, but it will surely put your friendship to the test, one that I almost failed, again.

Overall: 7.5 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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