If you were a fan of Lucky’s Tale, it might be time to invest in a mobile VR headset. While PC-based VR continues to move towards more immersive, full body experiences with Touch and the Vive controllers, the limits of Gear VR and Google Daydream are forcing developers to seek out other kinds of games, and the third-person puzzle/platforming is resultedly thriving in this space. Along Together is a perfect example of this.
Turbo Button’s latest is undeniably more conventional than the mad puzzling of the quirky Floor Plan but the trade-off is a more reliable core experience that provides the simple pleasures you’d expect from the genre, finely sprinkled with a hint of VR magic.
Along Together casts you as the imaginary friend of a young child — you can choose from either a girl or a boy — in search of their lost dog. It’s an eerily similar premise to another upcoming Daydream exclusive, Lola and the Giant, which tells you a lot about what developers envision when they look at the tools they’re given with this technology (nDreams’ Danger Goat is also faintly similar).
You guide your companion on a 2-4 hour adventure that has them travel through a lush forest, deep caves, and a desert-like scrapyard. While it may not be immediately obvious why a game like this needs to be in VR, there’s something to be said for the heartwarming simplicity of literally lending a helping hand. The game itself doesn’t do much to hone in on that, which is something of a missed opportunity, but if you’re not taken by the sheer pleasantness of it all then there may be no helping you.
Things start off relatively simple. To move your companion you use Daydream’s remote as a pointer that they’ll walk towards. When you reach a platform or other object of specific use you’ll find a marking that you can click to grab hold of and then move it about. This forms the core of the game; it’s done to transport your character across gaps, lay crates over pressure sensors, and more. At times you’ll also go into first-person to use a slingshot to hit switches and guide other characters.
It’s an accessible set of mechanics and, for the first few levels, you might worry it’s overly-simple. In its second act, however, the game opens up with much bigger levels that could take 20+ minutes to see through, some of which will genuinely have you stopping in your tracks and wondering what you’re meant to do next, if only for a few minutes.
When it’s flowing properly, Along Together is a joy to play. There’s a mechanical satisfaction to systemically moving your companion through the environment, sliding piece A into slot B to clear the way forward, juggling crates around set lines, and trying to work out the specific order in which you need to do things. You’ll find a much bigger difficulty spike if you seek out the optional treasures hidden in every level, but you’re well rewarded with some interactive features in the menu that go above and beyond the usual collectathon.
It’s not without hiccups, though. The controls don’t always work in the game’s favor; in tight spots it can be difficult to differentiate between selecting your companion or selecting an item, and you’ll sometimes find yourself pointing your hands in uncomfortable ways. The camera is also completely out of your control, and there will be times you find yourself begging to lean one way or the other to get a better view.
Along Together might not demonstrate the creative spark that Turbo Button has showcased in the past, but it makes up for it with smart design and strong core gameplay mechanics. Though family friendly, it’s puzzle/platforming premise applies just the right amount of challenge and has bags of charm to boot.
Along Together is now available for Google Daydream on the Play Store for a launch price of $8.99, eventually rising to $9.99. Read our Game Review Guidelines for more information on how we arrived at this score.