I’m sorry, I have to get this off my chest. About a week ago, We Were Here released for free on PlayStation 4. It’s a puzzle adventure game in which you and a buddy navigate two separate paths through a mysterious castle, with only a set of one-channel walkie talkies to communicate. Hearing this game was being made available for no cost — at least until the 23rd, when its sequels will arrive and a price tag put on all three titles — I thought it would be a great idea to play it through with a friend and deliver some sort of write-up. It is, after all, my job to talk about games, and surely people would want to know whether this free experience is worth downloading. Perfect.
After reporting on the We Were Here news, I shared it with my Push Square pals, and asked who would play it with me. Some quiet minutes later, one of them wryly suggested my girlfriend would. Very funny, but the game — which is free — is online co-op only. If it featured local split-screen play, there’d be no issue, but the whole point is that you can’t see what the other player is seeing. Your only method of communication is those walkie talkies.
I pressed my colleague for a straight answer, and essentially got a flat “No”. He asked what the Trophy list is like. Incredulous that it was taking this much effort to get someone to play a free game, I looked it up, and it happens to have a pretty easy set of trinkets. If Trophies are what it takes to push it over the edge, fine. But not even that sold my colleague on the idea.
Okay, no worries. Perhaps one of my other cohorts would spend an evening playing We Were Here with me. Surely it’d be no real trouble; aside from the fact that it costs absolutely nothing, I understood the game to have a pretty short runtime.
A second colleague piped up and said he didn’t want to play the game, but that it sounded pretty good, and he liked the premise. I had to read that a few times, and I still couldn’t quite wrap my head around it. The game sounds good and has an interesting premise — but no thanks. Alright then. What about colleague number three? Well, colleague number three has yet to get back to me about this at all. I’ll let you wonder who’s who in this trio of betrayals.
To summarise: none of my workmates — who I consider to be good friends — were willing to play a free, two-hour game with me. This was supposed to be for this very website’s benefit! I was going to chronicle our adventure, either in a review or a feature like this. Instead, I’m resorting to a rant about trying and failing to play a complimentary title with the people most likely to engage with me. It’s hard to get people on my PlayStation friends list to play anything, let alone something relatively obscure. I suppose I’ll have to play with some random stranger.
I started up the game. It has a lobby system, with a list of people looking for someone to play with. To my surprise there were a good number of prospective partners. Unfortunately, because each room is for only two people, they were nearly always full when I clicked on them. Sometimes I’d get into a room, but then the other player would quit out. Eventually, I got into a game with somebody, but either they didn’t have their microphone on or they’d left, because I was getting no response at all. Wonderful.
It’s not all doom and gloom; after several attempts I did finally start playing with a willing participant. I was able to play with a very friendly chap for about an hour or so. The game’s concept of helping each other progress purely with clues provided by your partner is kind of genius, but of course, in practice, how successful you are depends on your companion. Fortunately we made it a good way into proceedings before a Chess-based puzzle resulted in a death. It was definitely my fault.
At that point, he decided to call it quits, but said he’d send over a friend request so we could finish playing another time. Great, I thought. I’ve finally got someone on my side, someone willing to tackle We Were Here.
The guy has yet to contact me, and I don’t remember his username. It seems not even he, the one beacon of light in this tale of despair, will go the distance.
All this to say, I think the game is very much worth your time, provided you can find someone to stick with it. The puzzles seem pretty unique, and the idea that you have to guide each other with your own words is great. I should probably also say that this should all be taken with a wink and a nod; there are no hard feelings between me and the rest of the Push Square team. It’s just that now I know not even a complete freebie is enough to incentivise them.