Where Are My Friends?
Developer: Sometimes You
Publisher: Sometimes You
Category: Jack of all trades
Release Date: 04.25.2018
After playing through Where Are My Friends? I found myself asking, where are my friends? Seriously, I really wanted to have a proper conversation with somebody. Then I remembered that I have no friends and so played some more of this game.
The warning signs were there from the very beginning. When I was asked to disconnect the Joy Con controllers from the Switch, only to have to immediately reconnect them, I should have been afraid.
All I wanted to do was play in handheld mode.
Where Are My Friends? is, in concept at least, an interesting proposition. The game offers four separate play styles which are, a runner, a metroidvania, a point & click and a puzzle-platformer.
A great chef once told me, ‘Less is sometimes more’ and I certainly feel that this is the case here. Suffice to say, it does seem as though the developer has simply tried to be over ambitious and because of this, has produced three underwhelming experiences, alongside a very enjoyable one.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
It seems only fair to access Where Are My Friends? by the sum of its parts. The game starts with our hero, an eyeball on a unicycle crashing on a strange world and beginning to search for his friends. There are 4 in total and after navigating a strange hub world, you can access them in whatever order you see fit.
Runner levels need to be a few things. They need to offer smooth, crisp game play, tight controls and a banging soundtrack.
This section of the game however suffers from some incredible glitches. At one point, after being killed, I re spawned only to find that the enemy that ended me had also re spawned, directly in front of me. This made progressing any further impossible. After a few subsequent deaths, the game crashed and I had to perform a hard reset of the console.
The controls during this phase are surprisingly responsive. However, it must be noted that the D-Pad, whether intentional or not has been mapped in reverse, so Up is Down, Left is Right and vice versa. I discovered this during a section where I really could have done with a tighter input, so reached for my Pro Controller, only to be denied.
After the first runner section, which navigates from left to right, you must then take our champion on a section which goes from, the bottom of the screen to the top. Fine. However on completion of this section the game simply flips the level around. Right to left, top to bottom. Just an exact mirror image, along with all assets. Because of this, the runner section went from being fun and challenging to stale and repetitive very quickly.
This was the worst part of the game. Essentially it’s very basic. The objective is to traverse a darkened room which has spike traps, spiked walls and floating platforms with, you guessed it, spikes.
In order to proceed you must find the switches to open doors. Also, watch out for the spikes. Did I mention them? They’re everywhere. This level also has another game breaking bug where, if you die immediately after re spawning, the game crashes. And for the record, you often re spawn in deadly situations.
The best part of Where Are My Friends? is this little gem. Honestly, if the developer had just focused on this and fleshed out this experience into a full fledged title, I would be giving this game the highest possible score.
The aim of this particular game is circumnavigate a treacherous maze. Essentially, avoid lasers and use delightful neon portals to avoid traps and drop down to the next level.
This section controls really well and is a real tour de force in skill based gaming. You will fail, a lot. But as long as you learn from your mistakes and apply them at the next opportunity, you will succeed. A metaphor for life if ever I heard one.
I can happily report that I did not encounter a single bug, glitch or crash in this section of the game and it didn’t get weird. It didn’t need to, which was nice.
Point & Click
This section has an interesting mechanic that involves using a hub room to access different areas through. I just felt that the pacing was off compared to the rest of the games modes. Runner sections and platformers, even Metroivoidvainias to some extent can excuse a lack of story. However I do feel a point & click adventure requires some form of set up. Certainly the ones that I grew up playing were heavily story driven.
Again, another example of the game trying to do to much overall, and in turn neglecting the individual elements.
The soundtrack is funky and upbeat, a highlight of this title. Our indomitable One-Eyed Monster bops away to the rhythmic feels of a mixture of Russian folk, and 90’s club beats to name but a few.
For the runner section the artistic direction is also kind of cute, if not very repetitive. The best way to describe it would be to say it resembles a picture that has been coloured in by a child. A mixed palette of bold and vibrant colours , yet messy, complete with colouring outside the lines. Towards the end of the runner, things get very trippy. The lighting begins to strobe; purple into yellow, to red, blue, green, before the screen begins to constantly rotate a full 360 degrees, game still being played.
The metroidvania has a really nice CG style, which has been rendered expertly. Everything is crisp and sharp, and runs smoothly. This was probably made easier due to the levels dark tone, and the fact that not too many assets are on screen at once. It resembles Steamworld Dig in that fact.
As far as point and click adventures goes, this one looks OK. Very simple but clean and tidy, with a nice mix of lighting and effects.
The star of the show however is the Puzzle-platformer which looks incredible, albeit very basic. With a mixture of deep blacks and bold neon colours, the general aesthetic is striking and provides a great platform for a great platformer…..
No pun intended?…..
The highlight is certainly the Puzzle-platformer and I just wish that they had focused on this, certainly at the expense of the Metroidvania. However, the presentation was, for the most part, pleasant.
I really feel that despite, I’m sure, the best intentions of the developers to create a unique experience, they have simply tried to do too much. Had they stuck to a single genre and perservered with it, they might have created an enjoyable experience. As such, Where Are My Friends? is a contorted mess that has to many game breaking bugs and rage inducing moments to find enjoyable.
Buy Where are My Friends? $5.39
Follow Sometimes You