We Were Here Too Review – Coop at its Finest
Platforms: PC (reviewed)
Developer: Total Mayhem Games
Publisher: Total Mayhem Games
Release: 2nd February 2018
Total Mayhem Games’ debut project We Were Here was released last year on Steam for free to great success. Packing a unique coop concept this little puzzler offered some great 1-2 hours of enjoyment and now they try to build upon their initial idea with the sequel We Were Here Too. Priced at 9.99 it promises a bigger, more refined experience and delivers exactly that.
Once again the game´s about two explorers entering Castle Rock hoping to find their friends, who were trapped in the first game. Yet, after being forced to split up, they´re forced to overcome a number of puzzles, in order to escape again, hopefully together.
Each player takes control over one of those two, the Peasant or Lord. However, in contrast to other coop games, in We Were Here Too they almost never see each other, as both of them have their own paths and rooms. So the key to solving the puzzle in every new room is to communicate with your partner and work out a solution without ever seeing the other side.
For example, at the beginning, the Peasant player stands in front of three wheels with symbols. Naturally, he will almost certainly never find the right combination through trial and error and the game presents no other clues. Now the Lord player comes into play, who has a row of coffins, with symbols above them, in front of him. If he manages to find out the right order, he “simply” has to describe it to his partner and hopefully, if all goes well, the puzzle will be solved.
May sound simple in theory but is a hell of work in reality as it requires patience on both sides, something rather rare in coop. Having to wait until your partner either manages to solve his puzzle or describe the situation to you is an almost perfect set-up to provoke arguments or jokes. In combination with the already interesting symbols and pictures, like a “mixture between bear and pope with a book” or “a beetle on a stick”, they are perfect examples of how a repetitive process can be made passively fun in a natural way.
Luckily, We Were Here Too doesn´t solely rely on the ever same puzzle structure, mixing things up throughout the 2-3 hours long journey. While all are based on the same formula, Total Mayhem Games were able to create some pretty interesting variations, like having to describe mathematical forms, while the ground is slowly vanishing. The added time pressure is yet another factor to ensure a tense atmosphere, to provoke more friendship destroying “coop fun”. Compared to We Were Here, they got rid of annoying designs like the slowly freezing field of view and balanced the experience a whole better. No more will a puzzle around turning two valves follow a much more complicated eye/symbol one. Unfortunately, it´s almost as easy or hard as the first one, especially the beginning seems easier than needed.
On the other hand, there still are occasional hiccups in quality, two moments, in particular, stood out during the playtime with my friend: On the one hand, the Knight puzzle, where knights have to be equipped with the right weapons, can be a huge pain in the ass. It was the only one where we were stuck for almost half an hour, due to the fact the statues with the right combination disappear after a short while, one partner is under time pressure and there are like 7 swords, all of which can´t be described even remotely well. Try to pick the right sword out of falchions and straight swords, that all look similar, it´s a fun breaker.
The climax is also pretty lacking compared to the previous free game. Instead of having to solve a last puzzle together before escaping, it´s just about using an elevator while activating a door. Only if you desire to reach the best ending, for which it´s necessary to activate levers throughout the game (not a challenging but tiring thing), it becomes remotely interesting. There´s simply not a great finale, where both have to work together in a unique way.
In exchange, We Were Here Too comes with a lot of quality of life improvements, like the ability to restart from any checkpoint or finally flawless working walkie talkies! On the other hand, many odd things still persist, like the fact bunnyhops are more effective than running in such a game, the opening cutscene offers a strange mix between crappiness and entertainment once again, the performance is still not on par with the graphics or the way too obvious 2D flames at some points.
Total Mayhem Games delivered exactly what anyone expected, for better or worse. We Were Here Too doesn´t reinvent the formula in any way, offering more of the same things that made the first one so successful. If you liked We Were Here and want an additional 2-3 hours of a more refined experience, the price of 9.99 is certainly a great investment.
[A Review Code was provided by Total Mayhem Games]