A few weeks ago I reviewed the fun and creative Floor Plan from developers Turbo Button on the PSVR. It was an amazing game, although a little short, which had you stuck in an elevator as you went up and down through various floors in order to solve inventory puzzles and escape your confinement. This week we saw the release of Turbo Button’s next PSVR title, Along Together. In Along Together you are the invisible friend of the controllable protagonist which has recently lost their dog. The game is basically Moss but without the combat and just more interactive environmental puzzles.
Along Together sits up there as one of my must-buy PSVR titles, but why?
The story of Along Together is quite simple, yet also sweet and a little emotional. Upon choosing if your character is a boy or girl, you are shown a series of polaroids showing how much your protagonist and their dog, Rishu, love each other. That is until the camera pans out and the image is actually a ‘Missing: Have you seen this dog’ picture! Way to go Turbo Button! It was almost as sad as the opening to UP. Our first interaction with our nameless human is as they are crying their eyes out under a tree, I guess their sadness is what called us upon the world?
As their invisible, all-seeing and controlling, friend, you guide the young child through a series of environmental puzzles as you grab and move logs, magnets, carts, and even shoot bats in order to activate switches and levers to make your way through a decent amount of puzzles. The ultimate aim of Along Together is to reunite your protagonist with Rishu, the short-term goal is to progress from one puzzle to the next by making it to the exit point on each scene. It’s a delightful adventure that will have you thinking, cheering, laughing, and maybe even crying as you try and reunite these two lost friends with each other.
If you have ever played Moss (if you haven’t, stop reading, buy and play Moss, then come back) then the controls will be very familiar to you. As the giant invisible friend, you can’t move around and you can only interact with certain things. Using the DS4, you can move the protagonist around the scene as they walk, climb, activate switches, shoot a slingshot and more. As the almighty being, you can use your ghostly hand, and the DS4 and R2 button, to grab certain items like logs, magnets and carts, as you move them around the scene to activate switches, create platforms, create things for our protagonist to ride on, etc…
Along Together is basically Moss but without the combat and complete with more environmental puzzles, some of which are really clever. The puzzles themselves aren’t that complicated either, until the final stage, so anyone of any skill level can jump right in and have fun playing the game. Also, you will notice I’ve referred to Moss a lot and I’m aware other people have in their reviews also, but this game was originally released on the Daydream platform back in April 2017, so it actually came out before Moss. As such, some of those games may have actually taken inspiration from Along Together, and not the other way around.
Although you don’t physically move, you will slowly move automatically as you move your protagonist around the screen. This is required as some of the scenes can actually get pretty big so you can’t see everything from one point of view. The issue I had with this is I felt a little queasy after about an hour, and I don’t get motion sick usually. I think it’s because I was being moved around without my control. Usually, I turn off all comfort settings in games and I’m fine in free-movement mode, but this one triggered me a little due to me not being in control.
When you’re not thinking about how to move magnets in order to solve a puzzle, or working out which platform to jump on in order to move a minecart along a track, you should be on the lookout for collectables in the form of toys that have been left behind by kids who came before you. That’s literally a line from the press info, yet I’m not sure what kids were doing in a bat-infested cave, or a dangerous car crushing facility – unless they were bored? Either way, look out for the sparkling energy they give off and help create a path for your protagonist to get to the item and collect it.
Unlike other games, items you pick up aren’t just static trophies on a wall or in an options menu, they are interactive items when you return to your treehouse at the end of each stage. The ‘interactive’ part varies from having an action man with various poses, a talking sock puppet, and even a working magnifying glass. The best of all though is the Gameboy, as it’s technically a mini-game within the game. The game works like ‘VVVVVV’ and ‘Flappy bird’ in that you are a figure who is constantly running and a tap of the X button will cause you to flip and walk on the ceiling. X again will drop back down. So you must do that in order to avoid the spikes and the bombs as you aim for a high score – and up to three PSN Trophies.
I loved the collectables in Along Together, even though the interactivity on most of them is a bit restricted and short, it gave them purpose and made it more fun to collect them.
In regards to the Tree House, this is your ‘base of operations’ as such. After each stage, you return here and you can easily replay any stage you wish and you can see at a glance if you have found all the treasures or not. Speaking of stages, there are five on the first set of levels (the forest), four on the second (mines), and four on the final one (Junkyard). Each stage is comprised of two-three scenes which are basically environmental puzzles that tend to get more complicated the further you get. The level design itself is really good, with everything well thought out and presented in a way that’s not too complicated, yet a little tricky and makes you think. I did have trouble with one puzzle, the very last one, but this is because I forgot our protagonist can climb on a certain vehicle.
Bugs wise, I didn’t encounter any game-breaking bugs. There was a moment I fell down from a platform I wasn’t supposed to be allowed to fall down from, but my character did a super-jump and got back on, so that wasn’t an issue. There are also a few graphical errors here and there such as:
• Seeing your protagonist climb invisible platforms higher than the one you are trying to get on
• If you rotate whilst pulling a level then he will pull the air
• The protagonist sometimes went into a bit of a shaking frenzy if you didn’t quite make a climb correctly and became dislodged in the wall, etc…
However, most of those only happened once each to me and none of them required a restart of the game – they just happened for a few seconds then corrected themselves, so all good!
Now, I think in the past I said that Moss was the clearest and most beautiful game I’ve played in VR on the PSVR and I still believe it’s the most beautiful, but clearest? Nope, time to step aside. Considering Along Together is technically from an Indie developer, Turbo Button have now set a new standard for VR visual quality and clarity. From the moment I put on the headset and was absorbed into the world, I knew it was special. You don’t even think you are in VR whilst playing as it’s just so clear – you can make out everything in the distance, up close everything has a load of detail, the bright bold colours pop out and look great in the headset etc… I’m going to use Along Together as my go-to PSVR showcase title to show people just how clear a PSVR game actually can be from now on.
In regards to the sound, it really sets the mood. With different tracks for each area, perfect sound effects, and a form of Simlish for our characters so the voices sound the same in all languages, it all works perfectly together. If you don’t know what Simlish is, it’s the term for the voices of the characters in the Sims, which is a lot of humming and made up gibberish but said in the tone you would have if you were actually saying the words. The game does support various languages yet you’re able to understand the whole game without any text and just looking at the various scenes and photos which pop up.
Another thing which Turbo Button has done is to provide cameos for their other game, Floor Plan. In the Tree House, you will see two familiar faces if you have played their previous game, which was really cool to see for the first time. Regarding characters though, I couldn’t finish off the review without talking about our protagonist and Rishu the dog. The characters are highly detailed and interactive. Just like Quill, you can wave to them and they will wave back and you can also tickle them if you get your ghostly hand close enough. Rishu, on the other hand, is the best VR dog I’ve seen so far. It will sit there and pant away as it stares at its friend on screen, following him around, albeit from another ledge for the most part – but the most fun is when you leave him for a while and he begins to scoot around on his backside in circles as it waits impatiently for you to move on!
The Rishu scoot is also available as a free dynamic theme for your PS4 which everyone gets with the purchase of the game – that’s worth buying the game for on its own!
A quick video showing two levels from the game:
Along Together is easily one of my favourite PSVR titles to date. The sheer clarity of the game, the clever level design, the cute and loveable characters, and the overall setting of the game set this game above others who try and provide the same gameplay mechanics. Sure, the puzzles aren’t mindbending and you’ll probably get through the game within about three-hours without a guide or any help, but the journey of making your way through the game and working everything out for yourself is both satisfying and above all, tonnes of fun. This is yet another game I have placed into my ‘must have’ PSVR list, with the only faults being a few technical issues that aren’t game-breaking and the fact I personally felt a little queasy after a while with the auto-move.
Also in its favour is just how accessible Along Together is, as anyone of any age or skill level can jump in on a number of platforms and enjoy this title – which I highly recommend you do; everyone.
- - Quite possibly the sharpest and most colourful PSVR game I've played so far
- - The characters are oozing with charm and personality
- - The level design is great, with some puzzles really making you think
- - All the logical environmental interactions from Moss, without the combat
- - Collectables which lets you play with them
- - There are a few graphical glitches - none are game breaking
- - Due to the auto-move mechanic, I did feel a little queasy after an hour