Imaginary friends are something many of had growing up, and while they’ve been used for the crux of many a horror film, they’re not always bad. In Along Together for PlayStation VR, you play as the imaginary friend of a young boy or girl and help guide them through a variety of levels in the search of their purple dog, Rishu.
It’s a simple setup, but the game’s look and feel are immediately engaging. That being said, do the puzzles and the adventure as a whole keep you coming back for more, or will you fall asleep inside your headset?
Casual Yet Challenging Puzzles and Gameplay
Along Together is a game that anyone can pick up and play without much issue. By using the motion controls of the DualShock 4, the game offers a nice balance between immersion and simple controls.
Moving your character, be it a boy or a girl, through the environment is done with the left analog stick, while simple interactions are performed with the X button. A simple press of the button will allow you to flip switches, climb ledges, and activate other elements of the world.
The rest of the game’s interaction is handled by you, the player. You are the imaginary friend of this young person and it’s your job to help them navigate each area as they pursue their dog, Rishu, who has a knack for constantly getting lost and doesn’t do a great job of staying when you locate him.
It’s not a very in-depth story, but that wasn’t what hooked me about Along Together. Instead, it’s the little details and the wonderful level design that grabbed me from the beginning. The game’s hub inside of a tree house allows you to see all of the collectible toys you’ve found on your adventure, and it’s here that you can select from several worlds represented by maps drawn in crayon. The levels themselves snake through the map, and you’ll have the option to return here between each level’s completion.
Levels themselves are divided into multiple large areas with several puzzles in each one. The puzzles begin pretty simple but slowly increase in difficulty. They’re never complete head-scratchers, but they are complex enough to keep you engaged, which is a very difficult balance to achieve.
Beyond moving your character through the world, you’ll need to move your DualShock 4 in real life to interact with elements in the game’s environments. Here’s an example: say your character is standing on a dock with a river separating them from the next platform.
By looking for indicators in the environment, which show up in the form of gold shapes on certain objects, you can extend your controller out with your arms and see a floating blue hand, which is connected to a cursor.
By holding R2, you can grab the object, let’s say a log in this case, and rotate it using the left analog stick until it snaps into place as a path for your character. Once that’s complete, you simply let go of the trigger and use the analog stick to guide him/her across.
It’s simple, yes, but it works extremely well. Since we’re using the DualShock 4 here instead of Move controllers, it was wise of the developers to keep the motion controls to a minimum. You can move the controller in real life to manipulate your in-game hand, but otherwise, the rotations are done with the left analog stick, thus eliminating the possibility of tracking issues.
Another example of clever motion control usage is the slingshots you’ll find in specific areas. By tilting the controller, you can aim the trajectory of these shots to hit specific switches. The controls here are tight and responsive, which is not something I’ve seen very often from motion-based aiming mechanics.
Finally, there’s the camera. Since you’re playing in VR from a fixed perspective, the camera moves as your character moves through the environment. You won’t have any control over it, but thanks to smart placement, you won’t need control. The camera also adjusts slowly and purposefully, so there’s practically zero chance of motion sickness in Along Together.
This is also one of those scenarios where adding virtual reality elevates the experience. Along Together would not be anywhere near as endearing or charming if it wasn’t presented on PlayStation VR. The way these environments come to life through the depth of 3D, combined with the clever motion controls, really sells the immersion that makes the game so relaxing and fun to play.
A Colorful and Charming World
While Along Together’s graphics are simple, there’s an excellent use of color throughout the game’s levels, which span across multiple areas ranging from a forest to the dark recesses of a mine, and more.
The game looks sharp and plays really well on a PS4 Pro. Top things off with a sweet and cheery soundtrack, and you have yourself a VR puzzle title that may not stump you, but it will most certainly keep a smile plastered on your face the whole time.
Final Score: 8.0/10
A copy of Along Together was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
/Insert date - 8/10/18