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Together: Amna & Saif

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Puzzle
Publisher: Mount Olympus Games
Release Date: 2016

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.


PC Preview - 'Together: Amna & Saif'

by Brian Dumlao on Sept. 17, 2015 @ 12:15 a.m. PDT

Together: Amna & Saif is the cooperative puzzle game in which a mother and son are on a quest to find a cure. The gameplay fosters interaction, reliance and empathy between people.

Much like the local competitive multiplayer scene, the local cooperative multiplayer games have been gaining traction in recent years from indie developers. Titles like Ilomilo, Ibb & Obb, and Kalimba offer up some great co-op for those who love a bit of challenge. Together: Amna & Saif goes in the opposite direction, opting for charm and accessibility over grueling challenge. As the demo on the show floor demonstrated, though, this approach doesn't hurt it in the slightest.

The story is straightforward but significant, as it focuses on a Muslim family. With her husband long since passed, Amna takes care of her children Aisha and Saif in a house near a clearing. One day, Aisha goes out to pick flowers but doesn't return for her midday prayers. Concerned, Amna and her son go out to find a lush forest that hasn't been there before. With both wonderment and a hint of danger in the air, the duo set forth to find Aisha and bring her back home.

From the outset, the game urges cooperation since you can't even get through the cut scenes and progress to the next scene without both players holding down the confirmation buttons. From there, you're presented with an overworld map that also requires cooperation: Both players must stand on the switches before a level can be played. Thankfully, the controls are never complicated since you only have to move around levels. Without any worries about jumping, attacking or using any of the face buttons (except for a reset if things go bad), it becomes a title that even those with little to no experience in games can get into quickly enough.

That call for simplicity extends to the gameplay ¾ to a point. The most complicated thing anyone will encounter are switches which, in typical co-op fashion, either require both players to stand on to open barriers or one character staying still on a switch while the other runs around the newly opened area to collect the fairies that are needed to unlock the gate. The puzzles can be tricky, but nothing in the demo thus far is truly stumping. While that may seem like a criticism, it really isn't since the title was designed to pull in those who don't consider themselves gamers, and light challenges like this do a great job of pulling them in without feeling too easy to conquer.

Interestingly, the game is pretty non-lethal. You can't attack anyone, and most of the creatures you encounter can't attack you, either. About the only thing that can hurt you are poison flowers that shoot spears that are capable of knocking out anyone. Since the hit isn't lethal, one player can easily revive the other by walking over them, so failure isn't devastating. One interesting mechanic that is used to protect you from these spears is a shield that automatically appears when both players are together, providing a positive reward for not straying far from one another.

Together: Amna & Saif won't see a release until 2016, but what's we've seen is already positive. The early stages feel like they have the right amount of challenge, and the presentation, which we haven't discussed much at all, is both beautiful and calming. It remains to be seen whether the game will have a single-player component to it, but this is a title worth keeping tabs on for those who like playing with ¾ instead of against ¾ someone else.

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