We Were Here Expeditions: The FriendShip
We’re suckers for a good puzzle game here at VGamingNews, and absolutely crazy about an escape room. So it will come as no surprise that one of our favourite (and most highly rated) games of 2022 was Total Mayhem Games asymmetric puzzler, We Were Here Forever. Imagine our excitement then, when we got word that a surprise installment in the We Were Here series was shadow dropping at WASD x IGN! Keen to jump aboard The FriendShip for ourselves, Gaz and I dusted off the walkie-talkies and threw on our arctic exploration gear, ready for a new puzzle filled adventure!
At A Glance
|WE WERE HERE EXPEDITIONS: THE FRIENDSHIP|
|Positives||+ Good mix of well designed puzzles |
+ Fantastic setting and execution
+ Excellent taster of a brilliant series
|Negatives||– Some very minor lagging issues|
– Short run time just makes us want more!
|Also Available On||PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One|
Diving right into We Were Here Expeditions: The FriendShip, new players are immediately given an idea of what the series is all about, and returning fans will feel right at home too. Players reprise their roles as the anonymous Explorers, clad in heavy snow coats and goggles, and armed with naught but their wits and a pair of walkie-talkies. We join our intrepid pair as they attempt to steer their tiny boat through tumultuous waters, tracking a distress call to a long lost island. When they finally reach land, they discover a ramshackle and forgotten theme park, offering the two pals the chance to test their companionship aboard the titular FriendShip.
You’ll explore the island together before eventually being separated, offering each adventurer a unique experience and requiring players to work together to solve the challenges of the theme park. Staying true to the We Were Here series, The FriendShip is an asymmetric puzzle game where players can only communicate using their walkie-talkies, having to describe both what they can see and what they need to their partner. Players each have half of the pieces required to solve each puzzle, and The FriendShip will test both your communication skills and your patience in your partner before all is said and done!
Total Mayhem Games stick to their guns from a visual point of view, offering the same visual style that has served the series so well. The graphical depiction of the We Were Here series is in perfect synergy its storytelling and its gameplay – there’s a certain chunkiness to the designs that ooze ‘fun’, and a bright colour palette that catches the eye, harkening back to childhood playfulness and playground squabbles. There are some unnerving elements about the environments though, impressing upon you that you’re exploring the forgotten corners of the world, never knowing what you might encounter next. Most impressively though, even more than its predecessor, The FriendShip is laser focussed on its theme, and never wavers in offering players the best dilapidated theme park experience of their lives. Much as we did when playing We Were Here Forever, Gaz and I fawned over the art style, taking great pleasure in picking out and sharing the fun and flavourful details dotted throughout the environments.
In a statement that will not come as a surprise to anyone who’s played We Were Here Forever, the audio design in The FriendShip is top notch. The ambient sounds are wonderfully recorded and do a stellar job of drawing you into the environments. The voice-acting too, though limited to a single character, is charming, and the playful Marina Seaworthy inspired a couple of laughs as we bundled our way from puzzle to puzzle.
Almost as exciting as the breaking news of a new game, is the news that the Expeditions mentioned in the title will represent a new, upcoming series of releases that will allow the Total Mayhem Games team to share smaller, less intensive experiences in the We Were Here universe. The Expeditions series promises to offer friends the gaming equivalent of renting a movie – independent, one-night experiences that bring you together for a few hours and a lot of enjoyment. I can see people absolutely gobbling up these smaller games with gusto, especially if the installments come regularly and with the same level of polish.
Bearing in mind what the Expeditions series sets out to accomplish – The FriendShip is a short experience by design. Made up of three quite different puzzles, Total Mayhem Games plot the playtime somewhere between one and three hours, depending on your experience and skill level. Gaz and I rattled through the first two puzzles in pretty good time before getting bogged down by our own stubbornness with the third – retrying it more than a dozen times to try and perfect it, before finally finishing the game somewhere just over the three hour mark. As a standalone bite-size story, the run time feels good – there’s a clear beginning, middle and end to proceedings and while you’ll be left wanting more, that’s entirely the idea.
Eager to quell the inevitable angry cries of “iT’s OnLy tHreE hOuRs lOnG?!”, I’d also like to point out that We Were Here Expeditions: The FriendShip is also free on Steam, Epic Games and PlayStation until 13th October, and only a paltry £2.99 after that, which is a bargain for the amount of fun you’ll have. Xbox fans aren’t left out either, gaining access to the game for free for ten hours after starting the trial, and friends will be able to play together regardless of the machine they own, as The FriendShip is entirely cross-play.
Both Gaz and I ran into a few very minor performance issues as we played, with the game slowing down and sometimes hanging a little as we entered new environments, but since neither of us is sporting an especially powerful rig, that’s hardly surprising. That said, these issues were minor and didn’t do anything to spoil the experience. From a purely enjoyment standpoint, The FriendShip succeeds wholeheartedly, and we were left grinning from ear to ear about the few hours we whiled away amongst the broken theme park attractions left to test us. As we ended the game, it confirmed something that we already knew: our FriendShip is a bit of a barnacle covered misfit, but always fun to sail on!.
Short-lived thought it may be, We Were Here Expeditions: The FriendShip is nothing short of tremendous. The puzzles are tricky enough to pose a challenge, but are cleverly enough designed so that any stress you feel is aimed firmly towards your partner and not the game itself! Boasting the same playful visuals, excellent voice-acting and engaging gameplay as We Were Here Forever, The FriendShip marks a stellar maiden voyage for Total Mayhem Games’ Expeditions series, and will undoubtedly win over a boatload of new fans.
In the interest of full disclosure, VGamingNews was provided with a copy of the game in order to conduct this review.