We Were Here Forever review – Quantity over quality

I love puzzle games, I really do. Maybe it’s the mind-numbing difficulty of these games that make you scratch your head til you solve it, or it’s the satisfaction of understanding exactly what the puzzle-maker wants you to do. Maybe it’s just that amazing feeling of relief you get when finding the solution to a puzzle that took an insane amount of time to complete. Whatever it is, we keep coming back to them, no matter how progressively harder they get. We rack our brains until we figure out the next step, and if we turn off the game and head to bed the puzzle sits in our minds until we drift off to sleep.

That’s what puzzle games should do, right?

Unfortunately, We Were Here Forever doesn’t seem to accomplish that.

The We Were Here series is a very unique franchise, you don’t find very many cooperative puzzle games that can only be completed with a partner — especially when the puzzle has you work in tandem and only communicate via radio (or, if you’re like me, via Discord). It’s really unique, and I’ve had a lot of fun with the rest of the series. So, why did it drop the ball on this one?

Well, before we get to that, let’s take a step back and examine the overarching story (without spoilers). It’s a relatively generic story, one that doesn’t really improve writing-wise in comparison to the previous game. It follows the story of a king who makes an unfortunate deal with the devil to stay on the throne of Rockbury. This story is slowly explained over the course of many, many puzzles. It’s not necessarily a bad way of explaining the story, it’s just hard to remember the story while you’re attempting to complete some very complicated puzzles. Then again, it’s rather generic and barebones, so you’re not missing all that much.

What makes these games special is the cooperative element of puzzle solving. Sometimes you’re working together in the same room, other times you’re working in completely different parts of the map and communicating blind. That’s really, really fun. It’s a unique twist on an overall saturated genre, and while it can be like playing Monopoly (in that you want to strangle the person you’re working with) it’s more often than not a really good time.

Now, the puzzles. This is where it gets a little bit… eh. They’re not hard, they can just be really simple or really boring. Take, the end of Chapter 2’s puzzle. It has you solve a music box by playing pressing a series of buttons until you play the correct note. Now, it’s not hard it’s just repetitive. Once you work out which of the eight music sheets are played first, you need to just press the right buttons. It’s fun the first couple of times, but when you’re doing this eight times it gets really boring really quickly.

And this mentality kind of stretches with the game, being that a lot of the puzzles are repeated straight after you complete them. The biggest one that comes to mind is when you and your partner are on either side of a cavern and you need to work together to figure out what levers to pull in order to navigate both players up and down a series of ramps and teleporting doors — right until you both reach the end. Straight after this puzzle is the exact same puzzle, just, this time, you’re working in a 3D space. Same premise though — just navigate you and your partner through a series of interconnecting doors until you reach the end. Then, you do this again, but this time it’s 4D! You or your partner will be teleported back and forth through the good and evil dimensions until you, again, reach the end. It’s times like these when we found ourselves stopping for the day and coming back to it later.

If you’ve played the We Were Here series before, you’ll know that there’s not much to experience outside of completing puzzles — the gameplay is the exact same gameplay you’ve experienced since the very first game. Once you’re at your fourth game, you think there’d be some innovation, right? I understand it’s an escape room game at its heart, so you shouldn’t expect too much otherwise it might break the game. But, give us something extra! Maybe a grappling hook that we have to piece together with random parts we receive after every couple of puzzles — something that we can actively feel we’re working towards. In my opinion, a tangible goal is so much more rewarding than the reveal of a story.

We Were Here Forever is a bit of a slog to get through. It’s not an awful experience throughout, it’s just that the game is artificially extended by the repetition of a lot of the puzzles. The first set of games didn’t seem to have this issue, and that’s where I had the most fun. Plus, when you’re only working to reveal a greater story (and aren’t rewarded with gameplay enhancements as your progress), it can be challenging to find the motivation to keep playing.



We Were Here Forever

Review Guidelines

We Were Here Forever is a step back from the rest of the series. It’s hard to find the motivation to keep playing when you’re completing the same puzzle three, sometimes four times. Quantity doesn’t mean quality, and when you’re in control of a unique genre like coop puzzlers you don’t want to step on the quality of what made this series great. Plus, the lack of a compelling story is disappointing when it’s the only thing that’s meant to encourage you to keep playing.

With a deep interest in writing, Ben followed that into a Journalism degree. As an avid lover for gaming, he is constantly expanding his library with console, PC, and VR games. He's obsessed with stealth games and loves hunting down the smallest of details inserted by devs.

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