Title: We Were Here
Version Tested: Xbox One
Available On: Xbox One, Steam
Developer: Total Mayhem Games
Publisher: Total Mayhem Games
Official Site: http://totalmayhemgames.com/
Release Date: February 3, 2017 (Steam) September 16, 2019 (Xbox One)
Where to Buy Xbox One, Steam
The story in We Were Here isn’t such a big factor in the game. It’s about two explorers that take shelter in a house from a blizzard. After entering the house, they are knocked out from behind by an unseen figure. They then wake up in sperate rooms and need to find themselves a way out of the house.
A Playable Escape Room
We Were Here is a video game version of an escape room with multiple neat puzzles. These puzzles would be quite entertaining if it wasn’t for the clunky controls and a built-in chat system that does not work. The game is an entirely cooperative, online, puzzle game. It requires the players in the maze to constantly communicate with each other, in order to solve each puzzle and move on to a new room. One player takes control of the Librarian, the other takes control of the Explorer. The Liberian’s job is to decipher puzzles and work with the Explorer to solve them. However, the in-game voice chat does, not work at all. Therefore, the game is unplayable by using the method it was meant to be played. Thankfully I went through the game with one of my friends and we just talked to each other on the phone.
The controls in We Were Here are clunky and awkward. It’s hard to even navigate the menu. The only way to select different options is with the Dpad. The menu is mostly grey, and the option your on is a slightly darker grey. Therefore, I was squinting my eyes pressing every button just trying to invite my friend to the game. In We Were Here, it’s hard to tell what you can or can’t interact with. You have to stand an inch near an object and a big circle will then appear to signify you can interact with it. Therefore, I found myself walking into every single thing on the map to see what I could actually use or not. This design choice makes the game a lot more frustrating than it should be.
Work Together Think Together
Puzzles are the main focus of We Were Here, there is a variety of them dealing with deciphering codes, memorizing patterns, following instructions, and navigating through maps. All the puzzles are also short, simple and make the player feel like a genius after solving them.
The Librarian’s first puzzle has two different color eyes with a chart and two symbols in between each eye. The Explorer has two bright colors that resemble eyes on the wall. The Librarian and the Explorer are in separate rooms until the end. Therefore, they must tell each other what they see in order to progress in the game. The Explorer has to tell the Librarian about the message, then what eye colors they see. Then the Liberian must look at the chart with each eye and tell the Explorer the symbols that correlate with the eyes. The Explorer then presses two symbols opening a door. All puzzles in We Were Here utilize this kind of communication. Therefore, it is impossible to play We Were Here without a good means of talking with your partner.
That Puzzle Again?
The Puzzles are great for the most part because they’re somewhat randomly generated. Giving the game some extra replayability. For example, the eye colors and symbols change every time you play the game. However, not all puzzles are randomly generated and if you have good enough memory you can just breeze through a lot of the parts. I think that every puzzle should be randomly generated. The final puzzle is one of the more interesting ones, and that one is the same every time which is disappointing.
A lot of the puzzles have a time limit for The Explorer. One of the time limits does make it harder for The Explorer to see, so the longer they take the harder it gets. All the checkpoints are conveniently placed which motivities players to continue and try again until they get it right. The roles are reversed by the end of the game giving the Librarian a time limit and making their screen darker until they die. Trying to keep this review spoiler-free the Librarian comes face to face with something very unsettling.
Ugly But Cute Ugly
We Were Here is an ugly game. However, it is charmingly ugly. The aesthetic matches the mystique of the house. I think the ugliness meshes well with the theme of the game. The sound quality is a little better than the visuals. There isn’t much music besides in the menu. But the sound effects really pop. The little cue the game makes when you solve a puzzle gives you a slightly rewarding feeling.
Rollercoaster of Emotions
A lot of moments in We Were Here brings you to the verge of ruining your friendship. Then it brings you right back together wanting to give your partner a high five. The puzzles and instructions can make you infuriated with your partner. However, as soon you solve them you get a rush of euphoria and feel a lot better. A lot of the story is told by how you and partner work together. That’s what makes We Were Here fun thinking, working together and wanting to murder each other. This dynamic really fits the ending of the game.
We Were Here is a short but sweet experience. I think the game knows how much you and your friend will want to kill each other and it ends before you get the chance. The entire game took me and my friend about three hours to beat and at least one of those hours was spent trying to figure out how to get the walkie talkies to work. The players can always switch positions giving the game some extra replay value.
Verdict: In conclusion, We Were Here is a fun, little, puzzle adventure game that could’ve worked well as a team-building activity. However, the walkie talkies make the game unplayable for two strangers meeting up in a lobby and the controls are too clunky. Hopefully, all these issues can be resolved in a sequel.
- Fun Puzzles
- Good Sound Design
- Clunky controls
- In-game communication broken
- Not enough randomly generated puzzle elements