DI Weekly 2 - The Coop Edition

  Hello and welcome to your Coop Edition of Destination Indie - sometimes weekly!!  This is our second edition and in honor of that, I thoug...

 Hello and welcome to your Coop Edition of Destination Indie - sometimes weekly!! 

This is our second edition and in honor of that, I thought it would be fun to discuss some games that you can play with a second player. Back in the days of the PS2 through the XB360, I played almost every cooperative game available. These days my hubby is insanely addicted to Destiny 2 so it can be harder to find a coop partner, but we play some here and there.

Important note - a small change to the coop edition(s) is that I’ll let my husband Nick weigh in with his thoughts on these games (at least for a sentence or two!). As we come from very divergent gaming worlds, I thought it would be interesting to see if our opinions were similar or different on each game.

For those of you new to cooperative games, or not very familiar- here’s a quick primer!

Online Coop - You will need two consoles, two games, and two players in order to utilize this type of cooperative play. 

Couch Coop - Also called “Local Coop”, this means you need to be in the same room on the same console in order to play together. Generally you share the same screen, but sometimes the game will do Split-Screen. 

Split-Screen Coop - This is a type of coop where your screen will be split either horizontally or vertically between two or more players. While often supported when doing local coop, this is not great in non-coop games as it ends up with a lot of angry “YOU PEEKED AT MY SCREEN!” cries.

Drop In/Drop Out - This method of coop can be supported either locally or online, and it means that an additional player can join or leave at any time, without having to wait for the end of a specific mission or section. This type of coop is commonly seen in the LEGO games.

To those of you who listen to the podcast, some of these may be familiar but others will be entirely new. Without further adieu, here’s a randomized list of games that are co-op friendly that we’ve played recently! 

Game: We Were Here

Game Type: Puzzle 

Coop Type: 2 Player Online Coop

What it’s about: You and your Co-Op Partner are explorers who get trapped in a castle and have to solve puzzles in order to escape. 

What works? It forces you to cooperate as one player has the puzzle and the other player has the solution. It can be a real test of your communication skills, as well as the other player’s ability to decipher the clues.

What doesn’t? The walky talky system is frustrating (and the game will remind you this is “required”) because when you press the button to speak and the other player is already talking, you can no longer hear each other.

Final thoughts: This is a really fun but short (60-90m) puzzle game that is fairly unique in its style as it is online coop. It’s like your own personal escape room. The achievements take 3 total runs, but aren’t hard at all. There’s also a few checkpoints so you don’t have to replay the entire game if you’re trying to get to a specific section.

Nick’s Take: For a game that was obviously made with a small budget the team utilized what resources they had to great effect. The puzzles are very well thought out, better than many of the real-life escape room puzzles my wife and I have experienced in my opinion. They are challenging, yet not impossible and very rewarding when you finish one of the many that the game presents.

Would I recommend it? Yes.

Game: Unruly Heroes 

Game Type: 2.5D 

Coop Type: Up to 4 Player Couch Coop

What it’s about: You play as 4 martial artists with different platforming and fighting capabilities to fight against an evil villain and save...something. The story was really lacking, to be honest, but you can tell it has definite Monkey King inspirations.

What works? The ability to swap between characters while fighting is really neat, as well as the fact that each level introduces some sort of new mechanic to contend with as you proceed through. The graphics are so different, and that’s what really drew me in to begin with. Also, the death mechanic isn’t too bad (you pick up a bubble to get that character back, a la Yoshi) but I recommend playing on Easy or Normal because the difficulty is pretty ugly otherwise. 

What doesn’t? The villain’s dialogue is pretty bad, there’s almost TOO many levels (29!) - especially at 10-20m each to complete them. The characters don’t feel different ENOUGH at times and about half of the achievements are REALLY painful.

Final thoughts: If you can look past some of its flaws (and, ugh, the cheesemints) the game is actually really fun to play and the collecting of all the coins is not too punishing.

Nick’s Take: Very unique art style with inspirations from many different sources. The wife didn’t convince me to play much of this one because at first it seems like just another side-scrolling beat ‘em up. However, when I saw her playing the later levels with unlocked abilities it looked much more interesting. 

Would I recommend it? Yes, but it’s a better experience in coop.

Game: Degrees of Separation

Game Type: Side Scrolling Platformer

Coop Type: 2 Player Couch Coop, Online Coop

What it’s about: You are two characters (Ember & Rime) representing the seasons of Summer and Winter. They want to explore their friendship and relationship but can never come into direct contact. You use their abilities to change different areas of the level in order to find the collectibles. 

What works? The mechanic is so cool! Water freezes in winter, melts in the summer, but each person can only stay on their respective side. There’s a lot of figuring out how to balance which season on which side, in order to move the character through. The game can be single player and the controls are pretty intuitive to balance the fact you are managing two characters, however the AI is lacking at times. I really enjoyed that each “world” has a different mechanic to utilize to move through the puzzles. On one level if the two of you touch, there’s an explosion. On other levels, you can solidify the barrier between you and walk on it, or can swap your elemental ability!

What doesn’t? I’ve played this on and off for a year because I got stuck on a number of puzzles trying to get the collectibles and sometimes I just had to walk away. There are definitely a few doozies. The collectibles are difficult to track, and sometimes finding your way to a puzzle can be just as frustrating as solving it. Also, the maps are a nuisance to navigate - there really needs to be some kind of map feature. I strongly feel that the levels are a bit long/too many collectibles are in each. I’d rather see 10 levels with 10-15 collectibles than 5 levels with 25 each.

Final thoughts: The graphics are really pretty, the puzzles are fun and it’s a great opportunity to tell your spouse/friend/whoever what to do. The difficulty may be a bit much for a casual game, but despite my on-again, off-again relationship with it, Degrees of Separation always makes me feel clever when I complete a challenge.

Nick’s Take: This game seemed kind of neat at first, but quickly grew frustrating because of the lack of… well… anything that seemed like substantial gameplay elements. As with Unruly Heroes when I saw my wife playing MUCH later in the game she had unlocked different ways to utilize the two characters’ polar opposite powers. It looked like a better game, but still very bland at its core.

Would I recommend it? Yes.

Game: Morkredd  

Game Type: 3D Puzzle Adventure

Coop Type: 2 Player Couch Coop

What it’s about: You are one of two shadow people who are resurrected and given charge to protect a glowing white ball. You and your coop partner’s goal is to move the ball throughout the levels without letting it cast an overlapping shadow onto your partner & killing them.

What works? Well, this is easier said than done. You have to work together with your partner to get through each increasingly complicated mechanic and there will be a lot of deaths involved, but for most of the game it’s a really fun and unique experience.

What doesn’t? After about 150 deaths you start getting really frustrated at your coop partner and tensions rise. Words are slung, controllers are thrown in retaliation, TVs break… it can get ugly. Also, the last third of the game has an area called “The Meat” that completely ruined the fun experience thus far for both myself & my husband. While I’d like to replay it, I just can’t justify the difficulty spike in that area (not to mention the disturbing environment).

Final thoughts: Play it, to say you’ve played it, but the replayability is really not there. The first time through is mostly fun!

Nick’s Take: “The Meat,” which is more or less the last third of the game, almost ruined Morkredd completely for me. I enjoyed the light and shadow element very much, but the drastic gameplay shifts they made almost immediately upon entering “The Meat” felt like the development team got bored and wanted to make another game instead of finishing this one. This game is a modern reason that the saying “when something isn’t broke don’t fix it” will never go out of style.

Would I recommend it? Yes.

Game: 39 Days to Mars [Not to be confused with 30 Seconds to Mars!]

Game Type: Evil, sadistic, physics-based Wario Ware

Coop Type: 2 Player Couch Coop

What it’s about: You play two Brits of questionable sanity who have decided to build a ship and go to Mars. The ship is made of everyday objects from their daily lives, and needs what seems to be near-constant repairing, fuel, and other activities such as tea and scones in order to carry on its mission.

What works? The idea that you need to heavily cooperate with your partner in the game is introduced early while you create the map charting your path to Mars; One player physically moves the map pieces around, while the other rotates them. In the next puzzle you need to grab the key in order to leave- One person controls the vertical motion of the hook while the other controls the horizontal. The further you get in, the more complicated (and frustrating) the puzzles are. From what we played it seems the game continually introduces the same levels but with randomly generated goals. This mechanic works great - until it doesn’t.

What doesn’t? I would have liked to have seen a larger pool of puzzles to choose from because by the time we got to the scone for the third time, the game had started losing its charm. Between the repetition of the puzzles and the RNG within the ones you keep seeing, like making tea or scones, what seemed fun and quirky became a living nightmare. Despite our attempts at communication we simply weren’t able to put the jam on a whole scone with a dollop of butter, 4 strawberries and some redcurrants. It was nearly a marriage ender.

Final thoughts: The game FORCES cooperation. I have yet to decide if this is a good or bad thing. My husband and I got to day...12 I believe? After learning how to fuel the ship and a misadventure with the scones he straight-up set down the controller and walked out. He insisted I uninstall it and swears he’ll never play again. I am not saying it’s a bad game, but you definitely have to have the patience to be able to get through the levels - your success is especially dependent on your coop partner. We did have some laughs, though. This is definitely a case of YMMV.

Nick’s Take: This is the only game I’ve ever played where I actively hoped that the protagonists would die horrible, horrible deaths. Hopefully from choking on a scone that is layered with jam, butter and all of the other ingredients they wanted you to pile on!

Would I recommend it? Not if you don’t have significant patience. 

Game: PHOGS! 

Game Type: Puzzle Platformer

Coop Type: 2 Player Online Coop

What it’s about: You play as a two headed dog and each player controls a head. (Don’t ask me the logistics of it, I don’t want to think about it) You then utilize your abilities such as stretch, carry and grab in order to move through many colorful and unique levels. The world is absolutely ridiculous, but in a good way.

What works? The levels feel very different from one another and the world building is great. The puzzles are not too hard but still challenging enough to make you feel like you’ve accomplished something. The collectibles give it an extra oomph so you want to look in every nook and cranny. It’s fun to be able to customize your character, and working in tandem with a partner is great. 

What doesn’t? Your coop partner. In all seriousness, it is less fun solo because you have to control both ends of the doggo. If you’ve ever done a game where you have dual stick controls you already know that it could end badly. 

Final thoughts: It was a blast when it was on Game Pass, but would I buy it separately to continue playing it? Not unless it was on a sale. The levels are replayable if you miss something, but it’s definitely not a quick-and-easy kind of game, and the achievements take a good portion of time to complete.

Nick’s Take: I bark at anything and everything. My rear-end starts yelling at me to play the game correctly. I do not understand these words my rear-end is yelling so I continue my barking. My  rear-end yells at me more loudly. I bark more to drown out the yelling. I suddenly feel tired. It is nap time. Rear-end yells more loudly than ever. Too bad rear-end I am already asleep.

Would I recommend it? Yes

Honorable Mention: Battletoads, which I mentioned in a previous article. It’s a great (up to 3 player) couch coop brawler. 

About the Writer: Kyleia is an avid Xbox fan and achievement chaser. She is an Ambassador Community Champion & has a love of all games with a burning passion for indies and nautical adventures. She can often be found streaming indie games, achievement hunts, building crafts, playing cooperative adventures or sailing the seas on https://twitch.tv/Kyleia. You can also find her discussing indie games on Xbox Game Pass on the Destination Indie. Destination Indie can be found on Twitter.com/DestIndie, or if you’re just looking to say “hi” you can find Lish at Twitter.com/Kyleia.


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