by Lord Badger
Regular readers of this site will know I have an unending love for indie games. Total Mayhem Games are one of my favourite indie success stories. Total Mayhem Games started as 15 students from the minor Game & Design and Development of the University of Applied Sciences in Rotterdam. They created We Were Here in Just 14 weeks. Fast forward to today and they are now a studio of dozens of experienced industry professionals and launching the fourth game in the We Were Here Franchise.
For those of you not familiar with the We Were Here franchise the launch of We Were Here Forever is accompanied by the brilliant live-action Chronicles of Castle Rock series that gives some background to the kingdom of Rockbury.
This review of We Were Here Forever is a bit of a first for Stoffel Presents. The We Were Here franchise of games are designed to be played together as a full escape experience with a single person. You can connect randomly with another player but it is highly recommended to undergo the journey with the same partner.
With that in mind, Total Mayhem Games provided us with two steam keys in order to review We Were Here Forever. I couldn’t think of anyone better to escape an antarctic castle with than my good friend S.L Perrin over at LittlebitsofGaming.com
So please once you have read this review go and check out his opinion on We Were Here Forever and our time together Here.
The We Were Here series of games is a co-op puzzle game with a twist. Whilst the game is littered with puzzles it must be played by two players on different computers. Most of the time, you will be separated from your partner and have to work together to figure out how to escape the keep.
The key to any successful partnership is communication. We Were Here Forever throws a little twist into that too. There is no party chat or discord chat in-game. I mean, I suppose you can cheat and create one but it kind of goes against the spirit of the game.
In We Were Here Forever, You use walkie talkies to talk to each other. This means you have to push the button to talk and release it to hear your partner talk to you. This is a great way of implementing chat because it really does focus your mind on what you are trying to solve and creates a sort of etiquette for chatting with your partner. Although there were more than a few occasions when I forgot to push to talk and was sat in silence waiting for a response to a question I never asked!
I like a good puzzle game but my biggest gripe with the genre is it is generally the same puzzle in a million variations. You know the kinda thing I mean, Move the box through the maze to activate the switch. Then for the rest of the game, it is the same puzzle just 50 different mazes.
The joy of We Were Here Forever, and the franchise as a whole is the constant changing of puzzles. It is extremely rare you will come across the same puzzle twice. Some you will figure out straight away. In other puzzles, you will know that you have to communicate a code to your partner but can’t figure out how the hell to decipher it. This will result in you both swapping roles, trying out different theories and after two hours of getting nowhere quitting for the night.
Any gamer worth their salt will know how this turned out. Yep! I spent the whole night dreaming of a fruit machine, got no sleep ended up sleeping on the sofa before suddenly having a eureka moment over breakfast! Naturally, this led to me summoning S.L Perrin at 9 am in the morning to check out my theory and ultimately solving the puzzle.
That infernal fruit machine was only a couple of hours into the game and in the end, was so easy to solve. This didn’t frustrate us or make us hate the game. In fact, we had a lot of respect for the puzzle master that invented it!
Two of the best puzzles we have come across so far in We Were Here Forever we named the “card bridges” and the “rooms puzzle”. The rooms puzzle I had actually played at WASD so had an idea of what to do. It was still immensely enjoyable to play through again and actually complete it.
The “card bridges” puzzle was a great test of logic and teamwork. It was frustrating at first but every step of progress comes with a feeling of satisfaction and advancement.
A lot of the time you will find yourself describing symbols to your partner. My fiance found this hilarious to listen to me just saying random phrases like “turd, coffee bean, shell on a stick, weird-looking android logo” You may sound mental to anyone else sitting in the room with you but your partner in the game will fully understand what you are on about.
I suppose if you wanted to cheat you could just send pics to each other on a messenger app or something but this would be completely against the spirit of We Were Here Forever and not something that me and S.L Perrin did…ever…honestly…I swear!
We Were Here Forever is a difficult game to describe without giving away spoilers. The story unfolds at a decent pace (depending on how quickly you get through puzzles). The game looks absolutely stunning. Moving from dark tunnels to vibrant colourful rooms and imposing gothic architecture.
Every single aspect of We Were Here Forever is designed to be played with a friend. This integral part of the game design really shines through. As you progress further through the game you not only develop a sort of shorthand language but get a real understanding of how each other thinks and works together.
It can become frustrating when you hit a brick wall with a puzzle but immense satisfaction when you not only solve a puzzle but do so with a good friend.
We Were Here Forever is a masterpiece of cooperative gaming. This is an experience that I am honoured to have shared with S.L Perrin from littlebitsofgaming.com