05 June 2020
Escape rooms have increased in popularity in the past few years. Whether it’s a team building trip for work, a day out with the family, or if it’s just to prove you can escape a certain room faster than those teams you’ve seen posted on social media. Video games aren’t exempt from this as there are numerous examples of similar “escape the room” themed games. And this is the third game in the We Were Here series from Total Mayhem Games: We Were Here Together. It hasn’t deviated from its predecessors in that it’s an online-only co-op, first person puzzler with communication taking place via the in-game walkie-talkies.
We Were Here Together is an interesting game. I love a good puzzle, and for the most part I really enjoyed my time making my way through We Were Here Together. There are a variety of puzzles to keep you going through all ten chapters. I did have an issue with some of the puzzles, unfortunately. The majority of them were good and there was plenty of guidance found that made it clear what was needed to be done. But there was a handful that made no sense and led to a fair bit of frustration, along with one particular level where the puzzles didn’t follow a natural progression.
It’s fair to assume that once a puzzle is complete that the solution ties in with the beginning of the next one. That would often be the case here, but there were a few frustrating exceptions to that rule. In one chapter you’re left in a room with a handful of puzzles, no logical progression, and even some with little to no clue to how to get to the solution. As these puzzles need crystal clear communication between the players, if something isn’t obvious then it’s a failure of communication or misunderstanding in describing surroundings. It really would have been helpful to have a hint system after a certain time.
These puzzles do have a purpose, even if it is not entirely clear from the off, in taking you through the story in We Were Here Together. It starts off simple enough, with you and your partner needing to find a missing hiker that has sent a distress signal that’s partially picked up by the radio in the hut you find yourself in. The story does evolve into something from left field, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but wasn’t totally clear until maybe two-thirds of the way through it. What’s interesting is that depending on what location you are, the story may vary. I won’t go into spoiler territory, but how the stories all run parallel and eventually join is well done.
To go along with the story is a fantastic soundtrack, though. Every piece of music that is played through the chapters, and the main theme itself, are a joy to listen to and fit each scene perfectly. The aesthetic for We Were Here Together is also gorgeous. Even though you’re making your way through various blank settings like a snowy mountain or parts of a dingy castle, there are aspects — almost always puzzle involved — that are bursting with beautiful colours. The whole game is really lovelyto look at.
There were a couple of issues, other than puzzle difficulty, my co-op buddy and I came across on our way through We Were Here Together. The main one being a controller sensitivity issue. For those unaware, the We Were Here series was originally released on Steam and this is a series very much suited for a PC setting.
The transition to console is merely “okay” at best and this is down to trying to line the cursor on screen up to whatever you want to pick up. It can either overshoot completely or not quite get to where you want to go. This is a major annoyance when it comes to using dials, either going left and right, or up and down, as they are always situated close to each other. Carrying out these puzzles with a mouse would be infinitely easier than using a controller.
It’s also a little buggy. We were kicked out, mid game, back to the main screen, for no reason we could discern. We were simply discussing a puzzle and coming up with a solution, and out we went, needing to reissue invites and wait for it to load again. Which leads me to the final issue: the loading times are so long. For the type of game it is I don’t really understand why it would take as long as it does to fully get us into it. If it was something like a procedurally generated game I could understand, but sitting for a couple of minutes between each chapter can get a bit tedious.
If there’s someone you know that enjoys escape rooms this might be right up your street as well. Just be ready to describe anything and everything you see and figure out how you would explain it in a clear way to someone who isn’t there with you. After playing through this though you will be a master communicator, so even if you destroy a friendship when things are not being explained clearly and tempers rise, at least you’ll be able to articulate clearly where it went wrong.
Interesting puzzles and story
Some unnecessary difficulty
We Were Here Together is a fun escape the room type of puzzle game with an interesting story and beautiful aesthetic and soundtrack. It’s let down by some unnecessary difficulty and teething console issues with regards to controls.