Tied Together (Switch) Review
Release Date: October 19, 2018
Publisher/Developer: Headup Games/Napalmtree Studios
Platform: Nintendo Switch
I've always been a fan of co-operative games more than traditional versus gameplay. Teaming up to achieve a goal is always satisfying in a video game, but Tied Together puts a different twist on cooperative gameplay: while you are working toward a common goal, your performance will directly help or hinder your team in quite the literal sense.
Tied Together really doesn't worry about storyline: you are one of a group of monsters that are going through testing procedures because science. The title refers to the fact that you are physically tied via a rope to your teammates. This isn't a slightly stretchy bungee cord or anything, you are literally adhered to one another by a set length of string that is shorter than you can physically jump. This means every single action must be worked together with all players involved. Tied Together is a co-op must game, meaning there is no solo play. There are over 40 levels for two players and another 20 plus for three or four players to work through.
Local multiplayer is the only (and best) way to play the game. Whether with one or three friends, you simply get dropped off at one end of a map and have to make your way to the other, sometimes picking up keys on the way. You have to deal with tippy platforms, spikes, wind gusts, and lava flows as you head toward the goal. The game stresses the amazing fun of four player mode, and I'll agree that getting four together was a wonderful feat (and fit) of screaming and laughing as we got slammed, stabbed, and nuked.
The game has some issues with organization. As I said, I started with the four-player campaign. It throws you straight into some very difficult levels with instant death around every corner and fast-moving platforms ready to chuck you off into the lava. I later learned there is a bit of a tutorial in two-player mode but the game does not notify you of that. My first game was fun and frantic and full of laughter, but we had no clue what we were doing. Even after running through the training the short, non-stretchy rope gives no quarter to anyone who isn't part of the team. The more you have on the team the crazier it is. After a while, we also figured out that any level could be selected at any time, meaning progression was basically useless short of getting medals that we ran out of time on before we even decided which way to go. With no reward for progress, it makes it difficult to feel encouraged to succeed.
Each time you start a level, you are randomly shuffled in line. The middle monsters in larger multiplayer modes feel a little less useful as the end monsters tend to take the lead or are able to reach further. You only take one hit before you die (I later learned that punching your teammate revives them) and not timing jumps precisely will end in failing to clear an obstacle. With the shuffle in effect, you can't really practice a move as you are in a different spot each and every time you reset.
All this said, Tied Together is a great game for a goofy game night with friends. I'm not sure how many times you'll come back to it but it's low price makes it worth the laugh riot the first few times you play. If you end up with a player who can't get the timing right or gets frustrated easily you won't progress, and you HAVE to have teammates if you even want to try to play. It's kind of like loving a board game: you have to have regulars who like to play as well or you may as well have not bought it. One Switch and a spare set of Joy-Con (I had a hard time setting up Pro controllers or dual Joy-Con without serious menu trickery) provide some crazy fun that will leave you in stitches at the start but you have to have a dedicated crew to see it through to the end.
-Pick-up-and-play ease--within five minutes you know all there is to know
-The kind of game you can pull out and share with non-gamers
-Local co-op is a laugh riot with the right combination of players
-Plenty of levels to work through with your friends
-One bad player will spoil the whole bunch-not a game to have "little brother" grab a controller for
-Literally no solo play means you better have some regular game nights for it to be worth anything to you
-Complete random shuffling in line provides no chance to "try something out"
-Zero stretch in the line means laser precision teamwork that will take time to get right
-Instant skipping of levels gives no incentive to master
Special thanks to Headup Games and Napalmtree Studios for providing a code for review!