Since the initial launch in 2017, the We Were Here games by Total Mayhem Games have been very well received on Steam. It’s a trio of online co-op experiences that relies strongly on voice chat, and now all three have been ported to the PlayStation 4 platform, while being compatible with the PS5 as well. Time for a closer look at We Were Here, We Were Here Too and We Were Here Together.
We Were Here
The first game in the series, We Were Here, had actually already launched on PlayStation a little while ago, when it was a temporary freebie. It can now be purchased for a budget-friendly price of $5/€5 or as part of a collection that has all three games. While it’s certainly cheap, it’s worth pointing out that the Steam version was launched for free and is still available for free, so from that perspective Total Mayhem Games and PlayStation gamers are missing out on the opportunity to test drive these games for free and get hooked before heading into the second and third game.
Essentially a pilot episode, We Were Here is the shortest of the three games but it does set the scene very well since the subsequent games expand on the setting and core formula. The game is based on escape rooms in how they make players cooperate in order to solve puzzles and meet their objectives, but it makes use of the fact that you don’t have to be confined to a small physical space.
Communication is handled through microphones, so you can either use the microphone built into the PlayStation Camera if you have one, or you can connect a headset to your controller. Setup is easy, and as long as your microphone is compatible with the PS4 it’ll work with We Were Here. While in-game, you use a pair of walkie-talkies to communicate because you’re not in the same spot, but rather trapped in different parts in and around a big castle. Depending on which role you play you’ll have more or less room to explore as you encounter puzzles, and helping each other out is ultimately what should lead to the both of you meeting up again.
The whole experience is definitively reminiscent of the escape room experience, and it’s a novel idea that both players have their own unique perspective – though it’s a shame that (through communication) you’ll know quite a bit about the other player’s perspective, making replay value limited even if you switch roles the second time. Still, for a super low budget price, this is certainly an escape room experience that fans of that genre will want to try out.
We Were Here Too
The sequel We Were Here Too builds on the foundations of the first game, once again trapping you inside a giant castle with nothing but your walkie-talkies to help you work together. But while the setting is a familiar one, the sequel introduces brand new locations to explore and new puzzles to tackle.
The overall tone in We Were Here Too is a bit darker, and the roles you play are more asymmetrical – one of you is a lord who is high up in the castle, the other a lowly peasant. This makes it more interesting to switch roles afterwards because the perspectives are so vastly different, and thus enhances replay value.
The gameplay is structured with replay value in mind as well, and although you won’t want to keep diving in time after time there are different avenues that you can take which make a second playthrough more appealing than it was in We Were Here. A longer playthrough length certainly helps in this regard as well, though it also means that We Were Here Too is a bit costlier than its predecessor.
We Were Here Together
In many ways, We Were Here Together is the logical continuation of the franchise – it’s longer, expands the location by focusing more on the outskirts of the castle (you start off in the bitter cold of base camp) and it’s also a little more costly again than We Were Here Too if bought individually. While all three stories can be experienced as standalone stories, we would definitely recommend playing them in the order in which they were originally released, because otherwise you’d be experiencing a step back in terms of scope.
While “We Were Here Together” seems to imply that you’re tackling this one together, that is only true in a small part. You start off together as you venture on a rescue mission, but before too long you find yourself split up and, yes, back in a castle. Communication and puzzles are once again the bulk of the gameplay, although (as with the other two games) this can also be a case of hit and miss.
Some puzzles rely strongly on communication, and evoke memories of games like Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes in how they emphasize your ability to communicate quickly and effectively, while others rely more on being comfortable with the controls that can be too clunky for their own good in places. In a way that’s also true for the communication, which requires you to hold down a button and speak, walkie-talkie style. While authentic, having an open line of communication is much more comfortable and preferable.
Still, when it comes to the more experimental side of gameplay design, this is a trio of games well worth checking out. It’s a shame that we can’t experience the “pilot” episode for free anymore since it gives players a good idea of whether or not they should fork over the money for the other episodes, but if you feel on the fence about it then you can also pick up the very affordable first game before diving into the rest of them.