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‘We Were Here’: A Great Free-to-play Puzzle Game

Total Mayhem Games

Allison Borelli, Features Editor

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“Free” is one of the best words in the English vocabulary.  However, when it’s put in front of the words “video game,” the feeling can be a little more mixed. Luckily enough, the developers at Total Mayhem Games have given some a more positive connotation to free video games with their puzzle game, “We Were Here,” inspired by games such as “Myst,” “Amnesia: The Dark Descent,” and real-life escape rooms.

“We Were Here” is a co-op action-adventure puzzle game with a creepy ambiance. This adventure takes place in an abandoned castle situated in a frozen wasteland, where one player is trapped in a library and the other explores the rest of the castle. Both players must work together to find the way out, and the only means of communication is through a walkie talkie.

My overall experience playing this game was very narrowly a positive one. My sister and I completed these puzzles on the first run as the librarian and explorer, respectively. Finishing the puzzles and completing them was rewarding, and they turned out to be pretty easy once we figured out what needed to be done and in what order.

The most difficult part of this game was determining what we were supposed to do in each room. I admit, that last bit provided us with some trouble, especially within the last puzzle, which led to quite a bit of strife between my sister and me. The storyline is there, but it’s weak: it’s more about the puzzles than anything else. This game requires a great deal of communication between the two players.

The ominous soundtrack added to the ambiance of the game and generally improved the experience. The graphics and style of the game is cute and pretty good for a free game. It’s also possible to play across platforms, whether that be Mac or Windows. The game is compatible with Virtual Reality (VR) headsets if you have one. (I do not, so I can only speak for playing it on a Windows/Mac).

The spookier aspects of the game were enjoyable. There weren’t any typical jump scares, but if you’re unprepared, the game can still have scary moments.

A more mundane perk was being able to climb and jump on objects, like chandeliers, candelabras, or boxes. No invisible walls here! There was no lag while we played through both iterations. In keeping the game free-to-play there’s not a lot of server space, so there may be a little wait.

One of the biggest problems with this game was the in-game walkie-talkie mechanic. The walkie-talkies would work in the pre-game lobby, but might not work while in game. However, this is a pretty easy fix by bypassing the walkie-talkies altogether and using a different chat service like Skype or Discord to communicate instead. The controls at times were also a little finicky and had to be clicked/dragged just right or it wouldn’t work. Simply even trying to click the ‘retry’ screen (not a button)  to continue was cumbersome and frustrating.

There are no save files, but you can restart from the midway point, an option you can reach in the pre-game lobby, in case the game is interrupted or someone crashes. The only problem where a lack of explanation or hints became a real obstacle was in the last stage, which probably took us more time to complete than all the other stages combined. There were so many ways to complete the puzzle but not a hint on the right way to do so.

Overall, I think that although “We Were Here” is certainly not the best option out there for a puzzle game, it’s pretty solid for a free-to-play game. Sometimes fun, and sometimes simply frustrating, “We Were Here” is an hour-and-a-half test of communication and teamwork between two players.

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‘We Were Here’: A Great Free-to-play Puzzle Game