Online, Feb 2021
Of the free online escape rooms I’ve tried, one of my top recommendations has always been Enchambered’s Alone Together, a short but delightful game for two based around communication. That game is now first in a trilogy, where the later two games are paid games; the just-released third part is Together At Heart. As with the earlier two, this is designed as a game for exactly two players. Each player has their own screen full of curious items and mysterious clues, and progress relies on both players verbally describing to the other what they can see and do.
Since this game very much follows the style of Alone Together, if you want to know whether you should get it, the best thing to do is to go try the original free one. It’s a very safe bet that if you like that one, you’ll like the new one too – it’s very similar in style of gameplay and presentation, scaled up to be a longer experience. I’d say ‘longer and more challenging’, but although there’s a lot more to do, I think Together At Heart has a somewhat gentler difficulty gradient.
Similarities notwithstanding, Together At Heart introduces some new tricks. In particular, you can ‘pick up’ certain items, meaning they’re placed in a row of inventory boxes at the bottom of the screen; and some items can be transferred to the other player. That’s handled in a simple but ingenious way that felt so natural it took me a moment to remember that my teammate’s half of the game didn’t actually have a connection to my half.
I liked Alone Together a great deal, and Together At Heart improves on it in a host of ways. First of all is that there’s now a smidgen of story, and a cute character in need of help to provide your motivation. The larger scale gives you multiple screens to explore, with a whole variety of panels and buttons and displays to experiment with; and each of the various mechanisms is distinctive and provides its own way of entering a code. The solutions here sometimes involve a certain amount more work, and you’ll want to have pen and paper to hand. And the quality of the artwork is impeccable throughout.
My main caution is that your enjoyment of this game will critically depend on how much you and your teammate like communication puzzles. Constantly having to funnel all the information in front of you through verbal description, while also having to absorb the information you get back, is hard work and can be frustrating; and that goes double with the longer play time of this game. It only takes one person to miss a vital detail and you’ll both be completely stuck, uncertain of who’s missed what – through stubbornness / persistence, we spent probably half our total play time like that when someone (yes, okay, it was me) failed to notice that a particular something was clickable under particular circumstances. That doesn’t have to be a game breaker, especially since a help guide is provided, but it’ll come down to player dynamics and temperament. If in doubt, you always have the option of playing it with an extra person on one or both teams, or even peeking at each others’ screens if completely stuck.
If on the other hand you actively enjoy communication puzzles, then this will be an absolute treat; from the charming graphics to the smart and varied puzzles, I found it delightful, and immediately on finishing wanted to play through it again with screens swapped so I could see the other half.
Disclaimer: We played this game on a complementary basis. This does not influence the review or rating.