We Were Here Forever from Publisher and Developer Total Mayhem Games
Possibly the hardest co-op puzzle game we’ve ever played. Creepy AF Jester included.
We Were Here Forever is a cooperative first-person puzzle solving adventure and is the 4th game in the We Were Here Series. When we say cooperative we mean it as there is no single player option. It is a co-op only game like the previous games in the series. You don’t need to have played the previous games before playing this one but there are some easter eggs referencing the previous games that you’ll spot if you’ve played them.
You and your partner must work together to escape the realm of Castle Rock. To escape you will need to explore several locations in the frozen realm and find the clues needed to solve the puzzles blocking your exit. It sounds pretty simple working with a partner solving puzzles, doesn’t it? But, wait! What if each of the players takes a different route seeing only what is in their area and the clues you need for your puzzle are in your partner’s area and vice versa? And what if sometimes those clues are auditory and only one of you can hear them? Not quite so simple anymore. Needless to say, a good headset for each of the partners, a healthy dose of patience, and good communication skills are mandatory if you want to be successful in this game.
The puzzles start out pretty easy, giving each of the partners the clues to each other’s puzzle. After solving a few of the simpler puzzles the game throws you into the deep end for some complicated ones which can be stressful as you will need to be working with your partner and communicating all of the time. This can be difficult if your partner does not share information and communicate effectively. Some of the puzzles were pretty straight forward for what you need to do to solve it, while others were not so much and kept us stumbling around trying everything we could just hoping to get lucky and happen upon something that worked. To say that the game does not hold your hand at all is an understatement. At times it feels like your hand gets slapped away.
This brings us to the game’s hint system that is not helpful at all as the hints are very general and more about the area that you are in and general gameplay tips instead of about the puzzle you are trying to solve and might be stuck on. We stopped even trying them after a few levels because they were useless. We would have loved to see the hints be more specific to the puzzle or current objective.
With communication being so key to just playing the game we found ourselves getting a little frustrated at each other. We realised that part of that was due to a lack of communication between us as partners while others had to do with the puzzles straight up not giving enough information or not giving clear enough information to solve them.
In a few of the later puzzles you needed to explain to your partner what you are seeing and hearing as well. This added to the challenge and frustration of the puzzle solving as trying to explain what a sound effect sounds like is not easy. Since some of the puzzles are timed you will need to clearly agree on the language you’ll be using to describe objects and positions/orientation/direction to let you communicate the information faster.
Overall we did enjoy the game but really wish the hints would have been helpful and that the direction/clues would’ve been a little clearer in some parts.
We Were Here Forever is available on Xbox, Playstation, Epic Game Store, and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Sleepin’ Guy Deluxe Edition from Publisher Chubby Pixel and Developer Fabio Ferrara
Fun but occasionally frustrating first person platformer where you win by killing yourself.
Sleepin’ Guy Deluxe Edition is a first person action-puzzler platformer. You play as Sleepin’ Guy, who falls asleep, drops his beer, and needs to wake up before it hits the ground.
Waking up should be easy right? The trick is that the only way to wake up is to DIIIIE! Each of the 31 levels will have you trying to find different ways to kill yourself so you can wake up. Some of the levels have references to pop culture, classic movies, and games including Jurassic Park, Portal, and Super Mario Brothers. All of the levels have a little twist to fit the game’s atmosphere and art style. The levels are physics based which can be kind of a pain since the game is a first person platformer.
There is a collectible statue located somewhere on each of the main levels. Most of these can be found with a minimum of exploration. The statues are of Sleepin’ Guy in a variety of different poses, some a little more comedic than others. The game makes it easy to see which levels you have found or are missing the statue for, by placing all of the found statues on a plate on the table.
The main “hub” is a diner that you work at. The levels are located on top of the tables with a little numbered placard on them. We thought this was a perfect fit for the diner theme they were going with. Level select is available in case you need to go back and replay a level to obtain a missed collectible. However, the levels must first be completed before they can be selected and they must be played in order.
While some of the levels are pretty straight forward and can be completed in just a few minutes, others took us a while to figure out what needed to be done in order to gain access to the next part of the level so we could die.
The game’s tutorial leaves a little to be desired. It does cover the basic controls at the beginning but later when new level specific mechanics are introduced we were left hanging trying to figure out what to do or how to use them. This could make it a little more challenging than expected for people who are not already familiar with the mechanic from the game or movie being referenced on that level.
Overall it was an enjoyable but occasionally frustrating game. We enjoyed the pop culture/gaming references but found the first person platforming to occasionally be difficult and frustrating.
Sleepin’ Guy Deluxe Edition is available on Xbox One and Xbox Series Consoles. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
Call of the Sea from Publisher Raw Fury and Developer Out of the Blue
Walking sim/puzzle game with a great story that is well told (if you take the time to explore and find all of the clues and notes and read the resulting journal).
A walking sim/puzzle game set in the 1930’s.
You play as Norah Everhart, who was born with a strange disease that causes black marks on her arms and hands and will eventually lead to the same slow and painful death that her mother suffered. Norah and her husband Harry have been unsuccessful finding a cure with the doctors. So, Harry sets out on an expedition to try and find a cure himself. After many months, Norah receives a mysterious package and a letter sending her to where Harry’s expedition took place. She sets out to this strange but beautiful island in the South Pacific in search of Harry who has gone missing and this is where our story begins.
The island is filled with secrets waiting to be discovered. During Norah’s adventure on the island she will discover many things about the island, Harry, and herself. She will have to find clues to solve the many puzzles on the island. You explore by walking around, interacting with, and picking up items. You can discover clues by picking up photos, papers, and items left in the many camps spread out over the island. Not everything you find will be necessary to solve the puzzle in front of you but they do all add to context and flesh out the story.
The game is broken down into 6 chapters each taking place in a different part of the island. Each level has a unique look and feel that enhances the story very nicely in addition to providing visual variety and interest. The puzzles in the earlier levels are easy compared to the later ones. As the game goes on the levels become larger and start adding verticality to some of the challenges. They do not hold your hand at all and discovering the clues is mandatory for the later puzzles since a pure trial and error method would take hours. Luckily, once you pick up a clue it gets added to your journal so that you can refer to at any time.
The journal is broken down into 2 parts: Notes and Log. The Notes area holds all of the clues you picked up and will be referred back to often for the puzzles. The Log area is where Norah journals about everything that is discovered along the way, her thoughts and feelings, and is a large part of the story of the game.
The game’s writing is great, Norah feels like a real person but, some of the journal entries had minor issues with spelling or grammar. This might come down to a translation issue as the developers are not from a native English speaking country. The game has 2 endings each with their own emotional push. They did a good job laying the groundwork for either ending to make sense and seem right for the character. One of them really hit us in the feels.
Our biggest complaint about the game is Norah’s movement speed; it is a little slow. Even when “sprinting” her movements are slow. Since the game is part walking sim you will spend a lot of time “running” back and forth across maps that are sometimes pretty spread out trying to solve the puzzles. We would have loved the current “sprint” speed to be the normal walking speed and sprinting to be double that. An autosprint option would’ve been nice too since you’ll have to stop and start repeatedly to interact with items but that’s probably getting a little nit-picky.
The artstyle is hand drawn and cartoony. The music and sound effects are well done. Our only critique is the way the background audio changes abruptly when crossing the threshold from one “area” of the map to another. A more gradual fade from one ambient soundscape to another would’ve helped the environment to feel more seamless. All of the voice over work was great.
Call of the Sea is available on Xbox, Windows and Steam.
Mask of Mists from Publishers Sometimes You, Stately Snailand Developer 9 Eyes Game Studio
Minimal combat challenges, some relatively easy puzzles, not a lot of story. Enjoyable but short game.
First-person Adventure Puzzler
You are a mercenary who has been sent to locate a missing person, the Archmage. This is where the story starts and stays until the end of the game. There is very little story development in the middle of the game. The majority of it is revealed by finding and reading things found through exploration. You will need to find clues, collect items, loot chests, find stone masks, solve puzzles, and explore the colorful magical world all in search of the Archmage.
The combat is pretty simple and can be rather repetitive. You only have a single sword and pistol for your melee and ranged attacks. There are only 3 different types of enemies in the game and a single boss fight. With so little variety in your enemies it is easy to figure out how to avoid their attacks. Given that the game is set in such a magical world we would have loved to see the option to use magic in one way or another.
There is a crafting mechanic for potions. Before you can craft the potions you will need to locate recipes and the ingredients for them. Some of these are hidden in chests while others are out on a table waiting to be picked up. They did a good job making sure you never felt like you needed to hunt down the items. You could just pick them up while on your way to the next location and there were extra in case you missed a few.
The artstyle is a pleasant Disney-esque fantasy cartoon-scape. They did a great job capturing the look and feel of the indoor, outdoor, and underground areas with changes in lighting and color.
One of the nice touches they added was the Navigation Crystal mechanic. These allow you to leave a ruin after reaching the end of it without having to make your way all the way back through the level. Activating these is also a requirement for moving the story forward and unlocking the final area.
Most of the puzzles are easy to solve. They can often be solved with minimal trial and error. However, the game also provides an answer key nearby, sometimes in the next room. There are a few puzzles that require platforming. These can be a little difficult due to the inherent challenges of platforming from a first person perspective.
All in all, the game can be completed in just a few hours and was an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.
Mask of Mists is available on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and Steam. A digital copy of this game was provided to SimpleGameReviews for the purposes of reviewing the game.
The art style is a minimalistic, low poly with very colorful platforms and backgrounds. The audio is calming, relaxing, and adds to the atmosphere.
The gameplay is simple. You traverse the three levels by running and jumping from a stationary platform to collect orbs around the level. Once an orb is collected it reveals more of the level. While moving around the levels you will be using jump pads to access higher areas or platforms. Some will drop when you touch them which keeps you on your toes. Once you collect all of the orbs you are granted access to the next level. All three of the levels have collectible presents that can be found in hidden places around the maps (around corners or behind objects).
Each of the three levels is unique; not only visually but with new mechanics added to the mix which add a nice bit of variety. The controls are simple as you use the thumbsticks to move and look around, and just two buttons are used for the rest; one for running and one for jumping.
What little bit of story the game has is told by finding Crystals around the levels. When you approach them, text will appear on the screen with the next installment of the narrative.
I encountered an issue with parts of the map not loading/rendering after hitting an orb/checkpoint and exiting the game then reloading the level at a later time. This was game breaking as it was not possible to complete the level and progress further in the game without the map rendered correctly and it was ultimately necessary to delete all saves both local and in the cloud and start the game over from the beginning. I reached out to the developers to let them know about the issue. They responded that a patch is in development to address it but is not ready for release at the time of this writing.
Overall the game is fun, simple, relaxing and enjoyable but just a little short. More levels, mechanics, and a timed mode is planned with future updates.