We Are One is trying something new – by combining time loop puzzles with elements of roomscale shooters, it presents an engaging mix of two popular VR genres.
Revealed earlier this year, the developers from Flat Head Studio ran me through a demo of We Are One at Gamescom a few weeks ago. I left impressed with the ingenuity found in the combination of genres – perhaps one of the reasons Fast Travel Games picked up the title as a publisher.
We Are One revolves around using yourself as a teammate in a series of self-contained puzzle levels. Players can record actions to create multiple timeloops in one enviroinment, each of which can interact with each other and work in tandem to solve mind-bending time conundrums.
It’s not a completely novel concept – comparisons will be made to The Last Clockwinder, which similarly utilizes time loops as a core mechanic. However, leaving the comparison there forgoes full context – while The Last Clockwinder is a puzzle experience that feels minimally stressful, We Are One incorporates roomscale shooter and FPS mechanics to add a bit more grit. If the former is a zen-like experience with low stakes, the latter is certainly more involved and intense in nature.
It’s the addition of these shooter elements that give We Are One it’s own identity and distinct feel. While solving timeloop puzzles, you’ll also be shooting at enemies, dodging return fire and ducking behind cover to reload. It’s a more delicate dance that rewards establishing a balance between quick and dirty solutions and efficient thinking.
This isn’t simply more of the same – something unique is on offer here that should be compelling for fans of both shooters and puzzle games. It’s easy to imagine how the puzzles will get increasingly difficult and complex beyond what I played in the demo. Even from a short demo, it’s clear that the basic fundamentals of We Are One are sound.
If there’s one area that, at times, let the package down, it was the visuals. Hard work and care has clearly been put into developing a distinct visual style for the game, which flirts somewhere between hand-drawn, natural and cartoon-y in nature. However, there were points in my demo where the envionrment felt cluttered, with the busy graphical style threatening to distract from the core action. On occasion, key items – guns, bullets, ammunition – felt difficult to distinguish amidst the highly-detailed environment.
There’s also a visual dichotomy at play – the demo’s opening levels takes place in a lush and saturated forest, while the latter move into a more emotionless and desaturated industrial setting. This is clearly an intentional decision, made to reinforce the ecological theme at the core of We Are One’s narrative. Even so, it doesn’t gel together to create the most visually-appealing experience. Nonetheless, this was just a 10-minute demo – the full release might have more to offer in this regard.
Overall, We Are One is an absolutely solid concept that acknowledges the emerging timeloop genre and quickly applies its own spin. The clever addition of roomscale shooter mechanics lends many creative options and clearly adds depth to these types of puzzle. There’s so many paths the game could take from here – I’m looking forward to exploring them in full when Flat Head Studio releases the game.
We Are One is “coming to all major VR platforms,” with confirmed release on Quest and PC VR. There’s no specific launch date just yet, but the Prologue demo is available to play now for those who are interested. You can check it out on Steam for PC VR and App Lab for Quest.