We Were Here Expeditions: The FriendShip is a co-op puzzle-based game by Total Mayhem Games that puts you and your friend together in a desperate scenario to see whether or not your bond is strong enough to complete three fairly straightforward trials. These aren’t designed to be frustrating, but as someone who is usually fiercely independent when it comes to puzzle-solving and gaming in general, I found that they did eventually become exactly that.
I enjoy the likes of It Takes Two and games similar to Bread & Fred and Battleblock Theatre. These are some of the best co-op games and rely on cooperation in order to succeed, but there’s always been a little voice in the back of my mind saying that I’d do better off if I just played by myself. The FriendShip definitely feels like one of these games but with the sole intention of testing your friendship rather than offering any overarching narrative.
To make matters even more challenging, this game revolves around three core values: trust, teamwork, and communication. Three things I struggle with at the best of times. So when I finally jumped into The FriendShip with a companion, I didn’t really know what to expect. But now I’ve gone through its challenges, I can positively say that while it is an incredibly enjoyable experience to share regardless of how competitive and independent you may be, it might also show a side of your friend that you aren’t prepared for (it’s me, I’m the friend.)
The ship that never sinks
Your journey starts with the game throwing you and your companion into a snowy abandoned theme park, armed with nothing but a walkie-talkie for communication. Before long you will get separated from your pal and forced to find your own way - which is where the game starts to unravel its narrative about how you and your companion were sent to the island to prove your commitment to one another. There’s no team leader, there’s no taking control of a mission, you simply need to work together with no ifs, buts, or excuses - the ultimate test for a competitive gamer.
From the very beginning, you are obligated to communicate with your partner to solve every single puzzle. This begins with a symbol-based slot machine device that thrusts out a turnstile ticket when solved correctly (you need this ticket to get through the turnstile and get on a boat. After a brief tutorial with the walkie-talkie, you’ll quickly find yourself shouting down the mic desperately begging your friend to direct you to which buttons to press before a small wooden pirate disappointingly shakes his head at you indicating you’ve failed (again) and you’re taken back at square one.
I am not the biggest fan of proximity chat in the first place. In games like Deceit 2 and Unfortunate Spacemen - where I feel like I’m as much use as a chocolate teapot in a team setting - I always get frustrated at the fact I can’t speak to anyone as I’m too far away, or I’m just irritated by how quiet it can be. But at least in The FriendShip, I am in complete control of when I can talk without any caveats - and one benefit of the walkie-talkie means you won’t end up talking over one another which might be detrimental during other co-op games when communication is just as essential.
Each of the three trials you face will have different concepts alongside different rewards, each equating to an upgrade to your dingy little boat (your friend ship) before your bond gets ranked at the end. Because of this, I’d probably advise you to play with someone who is equally as competitive as you, because if you don’t you will end up feeling like Gordon Ramsey in a kitchen full of idiot sandwiches.
This additional level of competition in getting the very best reward or the highest score will keep you coming back to retry each puzzle since you obviously want to prove that you do have the strongest friendship. But you just can’t do this alone, so even the most competitive players will need to find it within themselves to work in collaboration.
To work in tandem
There are no threats, there are no life-or-death deadlines, it’s just two of you desperately trying to get through each round. So, if anything, We Were Here Expeditions: The FriendShip is a test of patience as much as it is a test of communication and friendship because one quick, frustrated guess will end up reversing all of the progress you made to that point. This will be the thing that ruins your experience.
But despite my gripes, even though the trials that We Were Here Expeditions: The FriendShip throws at may not be challenging, they sure are fun. Whether you’re hounding your partner to describe to you which pose the wooden pirate in their room is doing so you can tell them the corresponding icon on your screen, or if you’re placing glass tiles in a desperate attempt to make sense of a puzzle that will inevitably take a few attempts in the first place, you will chuckle at how ridiculous you both sound getting so frustrated at such a straightforward concept.
So if you need to hash out some tension or simply just put both you and your companions' compatibility to the test, then We Were Here Expeditions: The FriendShip is well worth trying out. It’s simple and straightforward enough to welcome players of all skill levels, so even if your chosen companion doesn’t usually play games, they’ll be able to pick it up quickly. Plus, the challenges are short-lived enough to play in a single sitting rather than being a time sink like alternative co-op games.
Generally, it’s a dose of well-needed fun with a friend, and if you’re like me and usually play single-player titles, it might open the doors to a new world of multiplayer gaming. The frustration is part of this fun, and even though We Were Here Expeditions: The Friendship does put your patience to the test alongside the relationship you have with your companion, it is another adventure to look back on and have a laugh while you’re at it.
If you want more experiences to share with your friends, it’s worth checking out the best multiplayer games on PC, but if you’d rather go back to enjoying your own company, you might want to check out the best single-player games.
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Kara is an Evergreen writer at TechRadar Gaming. With a degree in Journalism and a passion for the weird and wonderful, she's spent the last few years as a freelance video game journalist, with bylines at NintendoLife, Attack of the Fanboy, Prima Games, and sister publication, GamesRadar+. Outside of gaming, you'll find her re-watching Gilmore Girls or trying to cram yet another collectible onto a shelf that desperately needs some organizing.