Losing a well-loved pet is a special kind of trauma. That feeling when you can’t find them in the house, backyard or usual haunts creates a kind of panic that can turn the butterflies in your stomach turn into a raging whirlwind of fear and anxiety. This sad nightmare serves as the premise for Along Together, a PSVR puzzle game developed by Turbo Button. In it, you’ll have to help Boy or Girl across three distinct locations to find their beloved pet. A fun and delightfully charming video game that’s accessible to all skill levels, the only bad thing I can really say is that the absence of PlayStation Move controller support feels sorely absent in a game that’s all about grabbing, pulling, and pushing platforms all over the place.
Before the story begins, you’ll need to select from either Boy or Girl to play the adventure of with. Both are little more than reskins of a character model and it isn’t a whole lot different between the two that I could tell. Nor are there any new or special levels one gender can explore that another can’t, so your choice of who to play as falls strictly within the realm of personal preference. Although you do have directional control of the child, you are essentially playing the role of a helpful imaginary friend, a spectral figure that can only be identified by a single blue, disembodied hand capable of activating triggers and pulleys scattered through each level. The humans are capable of taking small jumps, climbs, and flipping smaller switches but make no mistake, you’re here to do all the heavy lifting so they can move onto the next stage.
A lot of the game’s puzzles are fun and really intuitive. I couldn’t shake the feeling that perhaps this was a game designed primarily for younger kids because honestly, two-thirds of the game isn’t especially challenging. The third and final world, set inside a junkyard, is a different story because the multi-part puzzles can get a little convoluted. There were points where progress came to a direct halt, leading me to think that a bug was preventing me from advancing. I would eventually reach an “aha!” epiphany but instead of the typical sense of relief and elation, I’d find myself grumbling my way to the next area.
Near the halfway point of the game, the journey transforms from a search for a lost dog into a teamwork-based mission to reunite the human and their dog as they traverse across different planes and pathways just out of reach of each other. At this point of the game, you’ll work with the dog to access hard to reach panels, buttons, and trigger mechanisms to get each of you moving forward and, hopefully, back into each other’s arms. Adding the dog into the mix offers a nice comfortable degree of complexity, easing the player into thinking a couple of steps ahead to solve the puzzle.
Even though the last handful of stages get a little wonky, I found that the game’s puzzles work well enough overall and are pretty easy to grasp. The first world feels super deliberate in the puzzle design that does a good job of holding your hand without making feel like it really is. Though the game really doesn’t afford too much time to explore off the beaten path, finding errant trails and pathways will lead you to “treasures,” small toys that Boy or Girl keep in their treehouse and can be played with in between stages. They don’t really do anything apart from acting as physical trophies to mark your success at finding hidden stuff.
Along Together is a charming adventure that I’m sure a lot of readers might share a connection with. Even though the game feels rather easy to play, it’s fun enough to keep you seeing through it to the end. There isn’t a whole lot to say about the PSVR experience other than it’s comfortable, it works great, and is easy to track the action going on-screen. It may not win artistic awards but it’s both effective and evocative of childhood adventuring. A good run through of the game will last you about an afternoon, longer if you decide to replay the game as a different character, though there’s no real reason to do that. Fun for gamers of all ages, this family friendly PSVR title has enough hooks that’ll get you saying, “just one more puzzle.”
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.