Sometimes more doesn’t mean merrier
Teamwork comes in various different forms whether they be to open a path, make a certain task easier, or take down a common enemy. This is greatly demonstrated in games such as Snipperclips, Pikmin, and Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime. However, with anything great, there will always be some that fall flat in comparison. Tied Together is a good example of a genius concept that utilizes teamwork, but just isn’t suited for its environment.
The story is simple and spare: a lab is testing the performance of four unique monsters or aliens to see how they handle their environment and cooperate with one another. They are dropped off in a stage chained to each other with the intention of working together to clear the obstacles in their path to hopefully one day become a part of the scientist’s team.
The main gimmick is that each character is chained to each other and it’s your goal to cooperate with your partner(s) to beat each level challenge. The chain allows you to be a certain distance from your teammate(s) and has weight properties for dragging characters. I deeply like the concept of having to coordinate movements and having limited movement as it provides some unique challenge and the opportunity to create some interesting puzzles.
However, considering that the puzzles mainly used in Tied Together are about precision platformer or flinging yourself around the level, it poorly fits the earlier gimmick and doesn’t serve its puzzles in a way that makes it enjoyable for the players. Most of the puzzles introduced are very basic with little to no thought being required on how to solve them. The level design doesn't even have much to offer as while the quantity may be high, their quality is quite low with each level only having a single challenge in it. The controls aren't too great as there are times when the timing of jumps are off or don’t respond. A majority of the time my friends and I spent on each level was purely messing around with the controls to hopefully yield an optimal result. While it spurred some dumb laughter, it never really turned into a feeling of enjoyment.
One thing I must commend the developers for is the art style of Tied Together. It is extremely cartoonish and minimizes any gruesome imagery to allow children and adults of any age to enjoy it. The style also perfectly fits the theme of monsters working together by making the world bright and colorful to match its positive and youthful tone. The soundtrack doesn’t stand out but it’s totally fine, once again fitting the style and tone.
If you’re in the market for a fun and engaging co-op game to share and have a great time with your friends and family, I’d suggest you go looking elsewhere as the novelty of being attached to each other wears off quick without variety and challenge keeping the game interesting. I truly do love the ideas it has, but it’s sad to see that these ideas were not strongly supported by a mechanism that would allow it to flourish.