We Were Here Forever Review: A Head Scratcher
Communication can make or break a team solving their way through a co-op puzzle game, and We Were Here Forever knows this all too well. The central mechanic revolves around two players communicating through a pair of walkie-talkies, and while that piece of the puzzle fits together quite well, the rest of the experience is something of a mixed bag.
There’s plenty to like about We Were Here Forever from its great atmosphere and the series’ staple walkie-talkie mechanic to the fact it’s an exclusively cooperative experience, which seems to be something of a dying breed in the current landscape. That said, its elements rarely work in tandem to create a truly extraordinary puzzle game.
To be clear, there are some moments of genuine genius hidden in We Were Here Forever, but the experience is hampered by far too many one-sided puzzles and a buffet of game-breaking bugs causing softlocks, crashes, and an early instance of save file corruption.
We Were Here Forever Review: A Head Scratcher
When reviewing a game pre-release, you’re likely to encounter a bug or two that will be ironed out before the finalized version. Oftentimes, it makes sense to not comment on these hiccups if you can trust a studio can address them in the finished product. A bug here and there is to be expected — even in finished builds. Unfortunately, my time with We Were Here Forever was packed with enough major bugs to make the 1.0 version of Cyberpunk 2077 blush.
Softlocks were the biggest threat my partner and I faced. We held our breath with each loading zone for fear of infinite loading screens or the sudden inability to interact with doors and other means of progression. When one player gets hit with a bug, it means ending an entire session. Both players must navigate the menus to reestablish a connection.
When it happens multiple times in a row, the true challenge of We Were Here Forever begins to transform from brain-teasing puzzles to a test of patience.
Outside of softlocks, other bugs are rampant, manifesting as simple visual issues or biggest roadblocks like save file corruption that prevents you from hosting game sessions. I expect some of these glaring issues to be fixed in early updates, however, it’s worth pointing out that developer Total Mayhem Games certainly has its work cut out for it.
It’s a shame too because outside of the technical issues, We Were Here Forever is a pleasant enough puzzle game, even if many of its ideas feel a little underdeveloped.
A first-person puzzle-em-up, We Were Here Forever is packed to the brim with co-op puzzles that typically have two players in two different areas needing to communicate to solve each side of their problem.
The issue with the core aspect, however, is that the puzzle quality is mixed. Obviously, balancing a co-op puzzle game takes a bit of work. It requires that the game trusts both players can deduce solutions on their own while collaborating on the bigger picture, but We Were Here Forever often feels heavily skewed to one side for many of its rooms.
All too often, puzzles feel unbalanced: one person solves several aspects while the other acts simply as the muscle, moving pieces from place to place. They aren't engaging in the brain teaser in any meaningful way.
That’s not to say all of the puzzles are bad. Some are excellent, with the gravedigging key hunt and the whodunnit-esque church pew seat problem standing out as highlights. The issue is that they’re few and far between.
The walkie-talkie mechanic gives We Were Here Forever a unique feel to other puzzler-em-ups while serving as a fun, albeit simple, way of communicating. Each person has a radio they can use to talk to their partner by pressing a button, and, like real walkie-talkies, you can’t talk over one another. If you need to have a lengthy conversation about the puzzles, you’ll need to learn to say “over” after you’re done speaking or come up with another verbal signifier.
Playing with the walkie-talkies reminds me of just how fun they can be. I was taken back to the days of hiding in the backyard and communicating with my siblings, enamored by the simple fact that they could hear me over the radio. We Were Here Forever has much of the same initial novelty, but it begins to wear off as you continue playing and as the focus becomes much more centered on the puzzles.
Previous We Were Here titles have varying lengths but tended to get longer as the series progressed, and it seems as if We Were Here Forever is the longest of the bunch. Depending on how many softlocks you run into and how quick-witted you and your partner are, it can run you anywhere from 10 to 15 hours.
If you’re playing with a good friend, then it’s 10 to 15 hours of hanging out, using your brains, and generally having a good time. There’s certainly a story going on — something regarding a medieval jester (?) — but it didn’t capture either my or my partner’s interest. It serves as a nice backdrop for the setting and tone but isn’t something I found entertaining.
We Were Here Forever Review — The Bottom Line
- Some well-executed puzzles based around the walkie-talkie communication mechanics.
- Good area variety.
- Great atmosphere.
- Solid length for a co-op experience.
- Constant technical issues.
- Frequently unbalanced puzzles.
- Uninteresting narrative.
A recommendation for We Were Here Forever comes largely weighted by what you're looking to get out of the experience: a few nights of brain teasers and puzzle solving with a close friend? Absolutely. An airtight puzzler that isn't held together by scotch tape and prayers? Maybe not.
Those who've exhausted the supply of great co-op puzzle games like Portal 2, It Takes Two, or Operation: Tango should consider giving We Were Here Forever a shot. Otherwise, you might consider trying more established co-op puzzlers before circling back to this one.
[Note: TMG Studios B.V. provided the copy of We Were Here Forever used for this review.]