We Were Here Together is a puzzle game for you and one friend, no more and no less. It’s a fantasy escape room, basically, except you’re not always indoors and there isn’t someone sat outside timing your run. This is a relief, as the puzzles that are Here Together with you are pretty tricky, so you’ll need to grab a very patient friend and hope you’ve got the communication skills and smarts between you to figure things out. You’ll probably want a notepad as well.
We Were Here Together starts with both of you in separate bedrooms (we obviously don’t want anything naughty happening), and once you emerge you’ll be able to wander around a small cabin together, waving and pointing at everything. Once that novelty wears off, you’ll need to get down to some puzzling and, as we all know, the first step to getting out of an escape room is to wander around and touch everything.
The game’s puzzle elements are spread around the environment, so at least two trips around it to use, gather, and ogle at anything you can find is mandatory. That’s when you try to figure out what you’re supposed to do – for example, the first thing you do once you’re out of your bedrooms is likely to gather a bunch of wheels that some sociopath has spread about the whole area, rather than storing them together like a rational person. Eventually you’ll look at them long enough to notice a symbol that matches up with still unopened doors in the cabin, where there is more puzzle paraphernalia waiting. Things only get more challenging from there, although sometimes they’re more convoluted and challenging than they are fun.
Heading out from the cabin and puzzling through a snowy wilderness will take you to a castle and immediately split your dynamic duo apart. From here on, you’ll be in different rooms, trying to coordinate your puzzle solving with the use of an in-game walkie-talkie (or maybe just party chat). Either way, this is where communication really becomes important, as both players will be doing different tasks to accomplish a common goal – at one point, one of us was doing gardening (poor Tuffcub) whilst the other was mixing poisons. At the very least, you’re going to want to hope you can describe things without sounding too ridiculous, which I didn’t quite pull off when I used the phrase “purple umbrella with tentacles for a handle…”
The puzzles themselves can be satisfying to solve, but there are a few that are complex enough that the feeling became one of frustrated relief. We actually found that we were enjoying ourselves more in a later area with a series of simpler, quicker puzzles than the more complex ones because that often felt like trial and error as opposed to puzzle solving.
Some rooms also had one player doing a lot of work whilst another was just sat around waiting, such as the gardening/poison mixing one mentioned earlier, and some of these even have time limits, so the waiting player can be just hanging from a ladder waiting whilst their partner is frantically wrestling with a fiddly mechanism. It doesn’t help that the UI on these fiddly mechanisms is already a bit awkward itself, especially when using the D-pad to navigate through a mechanism with lots of diagonals in it. It felt like I was fighting the controls as much as I was the puzzle everytime I had to use one of these. The same can be said of all of the game’s menus; you can’t be sure where your selection will end up in a menu when you press a directional button.
We Were Here Together has a nice visual style to it. The snowy wilderness isn’t particularly remarkable but it’s pretty enough, and once you’re inside the castle things look nice and sharp (except for some books in piles on the floor). I particularly liked the lighting, as when I was pouring a glowing potion it gradually became stronger as the potion bottle filled up, which caused me to gasp a little bit (I like lighting).
The story, however, is disjointed to say the least. First, only one player sees the cutscenes and the other player just wanders around a room whilst listening to the voices and holding a broken dagger. Second, it’s just not particularly interesting and very quickly gets lost and forgotten amongst all the puzzle elements of which you need to keep track.