Going hands-on with We Were Here’s surprise new shadow drop

Posted on September 15, 2023

To the surprise and delight of gaming besties everywhere, Total Mayhem Games have shadow dropped a new co-op puzzle experience in We Were Here Expeditions: The FriendShip. Challenging players to grab a mate and team up to solve a handful of brain-teasers, this title is available for free on PC and consoles.

A pocket-sized entry in this critically acclaimed series of escape-room puzzle adventures, The FriendShip takes a more casual approach to the genre than previous instalments. Instead of finding obscure clues or matching symbols to break locks and escape, this title focuses on three minigames that require constant communication between players. You’ll find a partner online and navigate a first-person environment together using voice chat over in-game walkie-talkies to stay in regular contact.

The FriendShip tells a simple story – you and your partner are adventuring across the ocean when you discover Heart Isle, a sort of abandoned theme park. Animatronic pirates operate the park’s mechanisms, with a spooky disembodied voice guiding you through each attraction. The goal is to assemble your very own “FriendShip” through excelling in three games: Crewmate Carousel, Maps & Markers, and Siren’s Curse.

Depending on your score in each game, you’ll win a bronze, silver, or gold-ranked ticket which you can then spend to enhance your ship. You’re able to retry for a higher score before using your ticket, allowing you to have another go at any of the games you might have done poorly in. Once you’ve completed the three games on offer, your ship will be assessed on its integrity and you’ll receive a final judgement on how well you and your partner performed.

The games in The FriendShip are short and sweet. The emphasis of this mini-quest is on communication with your partner, but while the game touts itself as friendly to casuals, veterans of We Were Here titles will have a much less frustrating time than newcomers. Attractions explain their rules mostly through trial-and-error. You’re expected to intuit most of the mechanics by looking around and trying things out. There’s a hint system available, but it’s time-gated, meaning you’ll have to wait several minutes between viewing each explanation of the game’s mechanics. Patience and a willingness to retry challenges is very much required.

My husband and I are generally pretty alright at escape room-style games: we’re no geniuses, but we work really well together and each of us brings different skills to the table. We fumbled through Crewmate Carousel without too much trouble. It’s a match-the-pattern game with an asymmetric co-op twist: one player must describe the icons they see, while the other selects the icon that best matches their description before time runs out. We had a bit of fun laughing at our incredibly specific ways of describing icons to each other (“buttplug shaped like a tree” was a real highlight) before moving on to Maps & Markers.

This second game requires one player to place tiles on a grid, while the other places vessels of different colours on their own grid to rack up points. It’s not explained well, and my husband and I ended up only vaguely figuring it out well enough to score a bronze ticket. This took us to Siren’s Curse, where one player guides the other through a semi-invisible maze of platforms. It’s a test of communication skills, with the player exploring the platforms relying on their partner to warn of sudden drops or secret paths.

For a cute, free, fun-sized co-op experience, We Were Here Expeditions: The FriendShip provides a neat distraction for an hour or so. It’s a little opaque for those unfamiliar with the series, but for those with the patience to retry its trio of mini-puzzles it’ll prove to be a cute little romp with a mate.

We Were Here Expeditions: The FriendShip is free on PC and PlayStation until October 13 (and available for a ten-hour trial for Xbox players), after which it will retail for around $4 USD.