Review – Where Are My Friends?

Where Are My Friends? is yet another bargain bin title released by publisher Sometimes You (the guys behind Energy Invasion). My initial thought was that this was going to be yet another half hour long title made for the purpose of providing trophy hoarders with an easy platinum. In a way, I was wrong, as this is a lot different than what I was expecting, but it doesn’t mean that this is a good game in any way.

The developers behind Where Are My Friends? call the game “an experimental adventure,” with each level being a completely different layout and genre from the other. That’s a bold statement and something commendable in this current creativity-free industry, but I have to admit that their game felt more like a random assortment of genres with little cohesion than a video game equivalent of a Frank Zappa or Captain Beefheart album.

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Our mighty hero

The first level is an introductory stage that was by far the most pointless moment in the entire game. You wake up in a lab, with no explanation of what to do or where to go, besides the fact there are a few icons right next to you onscreen. It took me a while to realize I had to beat a few nonsensical minigames spread around that level in order to collect those icons and proceed to the next stage, all while having to endure one of the least responsive control schemes I have ever seen (the square button prompt works a tenth of the time, while the analog stick is severely sensitive). That initial level also featured the trademark Sometimes You philosophy of giving out gold and silver trophies for doing the most mundane things possible, like visiting a library, pressing a button and finding a Death Star hologram.

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Find this, get a gold trophy

The game gets a bit better once you reach the “hub” area and you’re able to select which level you want to play. There is an autorun level featuring downright gorgeous hand-drawn environments and a short but sweet point-and-click segment; those are the game’s highlights. There’s also an explorative level inside a cave and a portal-based platforming level which is a perfect showcase of how not to design a level. The level tries to emulate Celeste, Super Meat Boy, and The End is Nigh, which are all challenging games that  feature a fair progression system and precise controls. This level doesn’t feature a fair progression system, being one of the most infuriating pieces of platforming I’ve ever seen, and I don’t need to talk again about how bad the game’s controls are. If there’s any consolation to this game, it’s the fact the soundtrack is really good, with excellent electronic tunes in all save the first level.

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It gets worse

I give the developers credit for trying to innovate with this game’s experimental proposal, but I feel like all of the effort was put into half of the project while the other half was piled up in a day or two. A handful of levels in Where Are My Friends? are interesting and enjoyable, while others suffer either from being insanely unfair or being just boring and uninteresting, usually due to the game’s terrible controls. I have no idea who the target audience for this game is, as this looks more like an experimental college project than a retail release. There’s some fun to be had here, and the soundtrack is really good, but Where Are My Friends? is a game that suffers from an overall lack of focus and purpose.

Graphics: 4.5

A mixed bag. A handful of levels feature gorgeous hand-drawn artwork, while others are absolutely hideous, resembling a cheap Flash-based game.

Gameplay: 2.0

The controls aren’t good at all. The button responsiveness is one of the worst I’ve ever seen, while the analog stick sensitivity is insanely high.

Sound: 8.0

A saving grace. With the exception of the first level’s background music, the tunes in this game are actually good.

Fun Factor: 3.5

Some levels are actually interesting, but the overall experience is a convoluted mess tarnished by terrible gameplay.

Final Verdict: 4.0

Reviewed on PS4.
Also available on: Xbox One, PC

A copy of Where Are My Friends? was provided by the publisher.

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