I love puzzle games, and I love co-op games. I always liked it best when a two player puzzle game has bits of asymmetrical puzzle solving—one person works on one aspect of a puzzle while the other person works on their individual part, both working towards the same goal. We Were Here Together sounds like my ideal game—and we had an absolutely charming, if not frustrating, time with it.
We Were Here Together is the third in a series of co-op puzzle games. We Were Here released in 2017 as a free title, with follow-up We Were Here Too releasing the following year. And while We Were Here Together has a story, it’s so puzzle-oriented that the story really is a small piece of We Were Here Together.
Cooperative play is so ingrained in the nature of We Were Here Together that it’s impossible to play solo—and there’s no AI counterpart to assist either. But an AI partner would defeat the point of We Were Here Together, which is a game that is all about communicating with a partner. And while there is a community that plays the game, it’s best to bring a friend along. I played through We Were Here Together with my wife, and longtime co-op partner, Marielle.
You can communicate with your friend using the in game voice, represented by the walkie-talkie. There isn’t text communication, but your characters can gesture. You can only wave and point—waving being totally useless to solve any puzzles. Also, there are several puzzles where you won’t even be in sight of your partner—they will be in an entire different room, solving their part of the larger puzzle. This makes voice communication is an absolute must. Unfortunately, we ended up having some volume issues with the in-game voice, so we had to resort to using Discord.
The puzzles start easy, but eventually become larger—sprawling across multiple rooms. While you can’t switch places in-game, if you want to try out different puzzles, or try out your partner’s puzzle, you can always remake a room and try it out that way.
We Were Here Together is all about solving puzzles, and there is a good variety. You’ll work with levers, identify plants and combine them to create something new, play a game of memory in a castle room, connect pipes and pressurize them, build bridges, connect wires and brew poisons. The variety of puzzles keeps the game interesting and helps ensure that if you’re beating your head against the wall on one puzzle, the next won’t be more of the same, and is a new chance for success.
Every puzzle requires constant communication, as well as cooperative investigation, whether you’re in the same room or not. Everything you do can and will affect your partner, and even if you’re working on different parts of a puzzle, neither of you will survive or escape without the other. This is the best and worst part of the game, and will test your relationship with whomever you choose to take the journey with. Puzzles can be genuinely hard to figure out, but are pretty fun.
While the puzzles are clever, and there are usually enough clues scattered about that most of the barrier to solving them is getting you and your partner on the right track. You can take your time and figure out most puzzles, but some of them are timed. Though, being timed doesn’t really change much—if you fail the puzzle by running out of time, you can just restart. These restarts aren’t even particularly bad—just a short loading screen later and you’re back at it.
Most puzzles involve combining objects, moving things, pulling levers or pushing buttons, etc. but I would have liked to see puzzles that incorporate different concepts—perhaps puzzles that relied more on perspective, or sound.
Despite how much we enjoyed playing through We Were Here Together it hasn’t been bug free. We ran into a particularly nasty bug that prevented my partner and I from joining each other. While there was a workaround, we weren’t initially aware of it—and it stopped our playthrough until it was resolved. The bug was resolved within a couple of days, and the developers seem dedicated to continuing their support of We Were Here Together.
We Were Here Together is pretty to look at. It uses a stylized art style with sparkly snow and enchanting surroundings that are delightful to behold. It’s fantastical in the best way, and reminds me of walking through a storybook. The music is poignant or urgent, depending on the situation, but always a pleasant addition to the scenes.
I loved We Were Here Together. It had a great combination of clever puzzles that were challenging, and since I’m a sucker for asymmetrical multiplayer games, it scratched that itch. Co-op was a requirement, and was well executed, and puzzles were never easy to solve–you have to earn your progress, together. That’s something to work towards in game and out.
We Were Here Together is available now, and you can pick up We Were Here now for free.
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