Separated from your expedition in the midst of a blizzard, you and your companion come upon a strange castle in the Antarctic. Entering you are taken unawares and knocked out only to wake alone and with nothing but a two way radio. Escape or die in the We Were Here series: We Were Here, We Were Here Too & We Were Here Together.
Although three separate games, each game in the We Were Here series follows the same premise. You and your companion take on different roles and must cooperate together using whatever you can find to escape from your mysterious captors. A bit different, but welcome for a modern game, the story is one hundred percent cooperative. You cannot even start the game without another player and although you might bluff your way out of the first areas by trial and error you won’t progress any further.
Voice communications are a must in We Were Here and it’s following chapters. The game even warns you that you will both need a microphone. Shortly after waking from your ordeal both players will find a short range radio which can be used to speak to the other player. Interestingly (and realistically), both players cannot speak at the same time and if you don’t actually press the radio button then your friend will obviously not hear you either so it pays to take note of radio etiquette by using “Over” once you have done speaking to ensure you don’t talk over each other or miss something.
The puzzles in We Were Here are much like an escape room where one player holds a selection of clues or answers but are helpless without the information the other player holds. The radio is used to relay what you see, hear and find back to your companion who will hopefully be able to link that information back to something they can see in their space and help you both progress.
It’s possible for players to bypass the two way radio mechanic by joining a platform based voice chat such as the one built into your PS4/PS5 but it takes something away from the experience the first time you play it so it’s not advised.
It all starts out fairly slowly as you realise together what you will need to do to progress but very quickly the puzzles become more deadly. We Were Here, and its follow ups, build further pressure by adding life or death situations to the puzzle meaning you must solve that puzzle before something else happens and before one or both players bite the proverbial bullet.
As an escape room, the replayability of the series relies on alterations to the puzzles rather than wholly new puzzles being introduced. You can always take the other role and experience the game as an explorer rather than a librarian (We Were Here) but once you have successfully completed one role you really already know what you are looking for to solve it again or from the other perspective — it’s just likely coloured or painted differently.
The puzzles themselves are fairly straightforward but only having half of the required information makes your ability to communicate what you can see to the other player as important as your ability to visualise anything they are telling you and append it in your mind to what you have. At some points you can spend five minutes just stationary whilst you discuss the strategy with your companion. Sometimes you simply don’t have those five minutes and it’s a rush job.
Played in the first person, We Were Here starts by keeping players apart and progresses the challenge as you move through the series. By the time you work your way to the end of the We Were Here series, We Were Here Together, you pretty much start together in the first chapter and work together in a more action orientated co-operative game that’s quite different to the Explorer/Librarian dynamic of the first game. The later games in the series add emotes to your communications arsenal, although given you are voice enabled emotes don’t add much other than waving at each other to get attention.
Relying on great communication to survive and adding a new dynamic to cooperative gameplay, all three games in the series are great fun and have some headscratchers within them which makes solving them all the more fun. Tarnished slightly by limited replay value, We Were Here and it’s follow ups offer a different take on single player alternatives and will be a welcome addition to the library of anyone who likes cooperative or escape room type puzzlers.