Designed strictly for online co-op play, We Were Here Together is a unique puzzle experience that constantly teeters on the border of being entertainingly satisfying and painfully frustrating. Although some situations are better than others, this co-op experience will undoubtedly strengthen the relationship with your gaming buddy if you manage to see it through to the end.
To be very clear, this game can only be played with two players online. There is no solo play and no option to play with an AI buddy as that would defeat the entire purpose. Taking it one step further, it is highly recommended to play with a good friend as opposed to hopping into a game with a random player. There are plenty of puzzles that will test the limits, patience, and teamwork between each pair so linking up with a random isn’t the best path to take. But who knows, maybe a couple players will find a lifelong buddy by playing through this co-op game as this experience could easily have that effect.
There are no swords to swing, bad guys to shoot, or stats to increase. Instead, the player only has access to a limited jump, the ability to pick up and place things, and activate a waving and pointing animation. This is an environmental puzzle game through and through in which teamwork carries the utmost importance. In fact, the only weapon each player has is a walkie talkie and the ability to describe each puzzle, situation, and surround environment to your partner. Talking through each puzzle is so imperative the game demands use of a headset and utilizing in game audio. If you initially join using the Xbox Party Chat feature, the game highly suggests you log out to use the in-game chat function. Speaking with your partner is also thoughtfully implemented into gameplay, as the light on the walkie turns orange when your partner is speaking which prevents you from talking over one another.
The campaign begins by having each player wake up in cabin surround by a frozen tundra. After finding a series a door handles and adjusting a radio frequency, a few markers get placed on a map and the true quest begins. Sometimes each player will share the same space, sometimes they will be separated, and sometimes they will be in entirely different rooms. This again emphasizes the importance of teamwork and having the ability to describe the current situation to your partner to find a solution.
Some puzzles are easier than others. Some puzzles are more entertaining than others. For example, flipping a switch over here will raise a platform or open a door over there for your partner. Unfortunately, there are some puzzles that are so complicated they bring the entire experience to a screaming halt. In fact, there were a few times my gameplay partner and I had to cheat by looking at online guides to find our way through. Even after knowing how to reach the solution by looking at a guide that provides the answer, we still had no clue what the puzzle was asking us to do and how to solve it. These obtuse puzzles really start to ramp up towards the middle of the quest and hit one after another – another reason why playing with a good, dedicated friend is recommended.
As for a story, there really isn’t one. Outside of a distress call in the opening moments, and something about a soul stone in the later stages, there is no cohesive narrative to link it all together. Luckily, there doesn’t need to be a story in a game like this as the puzzles speak for themselves. Graphically, everything is composed of simplistic 3D models, pretty weather effects, and basic environmental objects. By no means is this a top tier visual splendor but what is here gets the job done with a hint of personality. This distinct look is also coupled with a basic soundtrack.
We Were Here Together is all about a defining puzzle solving co-op experience. Playing through this campaign with a friend, child, or spouse will either strengthen your relationship or completely destroy it due to the difficulty. Either way, the emphasis on cooperative gameplay is so strong here, other titles should take note. It is rare to come across something this unique.