“Does it mean anything to you if I tell you that I have a code with different types of shells?” asks writer Morgan Park over our walkie-talkies. We stand on either side of a chasm connected by suspended carts whose keys we have not yet found. Tragically, the seashells mean nothing to me at this point, but we quickly work on two more puzzles, reuniting via a mechanical gondola and placing us on either side of the mysterious seashell roulette machine that marks our next task. in this long escape from the castle.
If you’re unfamiliar, We Were Here is a series of co-op puzzle escape rooms set in a somewhat spooky medieval castle. There is a story in the background, but the essence of each game is to communicate with your friend via walkie-talkie and use the clues from your separate rooms to help each other progress in the castle escape.
Forever’s initial difficulty curve is by far the best it’s ever been in the series. It begins by literally walking us through the basics – a series of didactic starter rooms where we learn how to crouch, pick up objects and walk around while demonstrating that giant symbols drawn in paint on an abandoned castle wall could be the clue to unlock the door we’re sitting in front of.
Unlike We Were Here Together (the third in the series), which includes frustrating puzzles in the first two hours, Forever’s puzzle has so far become more difficult at a steady pace. We started with symbols on the lock cups, a collaborative motion logic puzzle, the start of a giant machine with a precise series of actions on a film reel, a giant safe door code and possibly timed game board shenanigans. In the middle of it all was the shell puzzle which almost left us perplexed.
“Unicorn, coffee bean, ice cream, bubble, snail,” I hurriedly recite, describing six different seashells on a mechanical device so Morgan can punch them into a console on the other side before the entire sequence resets in ten seconds. When that combination doesn’t work, we’re back to scratching our heads, but the names we’ve agreed on for the symbol-filled cups work well for us, which is half the battle of a We Were Here game. Common terminology is essential.
Even easier, we were at a point in the game where we could decide to switch sides and approach the device in different roles. In the end, switching jobs and taking a fresh look at the scant information provided to us is how we solved it, a convenience that We Were Here games often don’t allow.
Just before putting down We Were Here Forever, aware that we wanted to save a lot of experience with our other friends, we came across a gauntlet of timed navigation puzzles familiar from previous games. I have not-so-good memories of timed challenges in the show’s history, and instinctively feared the worst when I realized Morgan had found himself beneath me in a checkerboard of trapdoors with giant symbols on them. . I was tasked with guiding him to safety and guessing which spaces were safe based on a row of symbols visible only from my perch in the stands. Luckily for both of us, navigating the trapdoors with a helmet, sickle, dagger, and other medieval gear was less boring than We Were Here Too’s ever-changing maze.
Both the seashell contraption and trapdoor game board showed how We Were Here has reached the pinnacle of its confusing co-op concept for now. If you’ve played the last three, Forever pulls a lot of familiar tricks: many puzzles rely on symbols, the love of film reels returns, and medieval weapons are also due. I leave you without revealing the solutions to any of them, although you can borrow our excellent shell names if you wish.
Morgan and I spent two hours playing (the length of the entire first game, still free) and only made a dent in our escape. There may still be some frustrating bits in Forever that I haven’t seen yet – more timed stuff, I’m sure – but Total Mayhem Games really nailed what they do best on this one. . I’ve really enjoyed stumbling across Castle Rock challenges with a friend for the past five years, and Forever has so far proven that it’s not short of new ways to serve up the same tricks.
We Were Here Forever launches tomorrow, May 10 on Steam.