In most games, cooperative play can feel like a frustrating feature added almost as an afterthought. Not so with Together: Amna & Saif, currently in development by Mount Olympus Games, which was designed with co-op play in mind.
“A lot of games that have co-op have it tacked onto a single-player experience,” says game designer and programmer Lyle Cox. “I wanted to design [my game] around having to work together, and both of you are equally important. There’s a lot of unique things you can do when you design a game to only be co-op.”
This makes Together: Amna & Saif an ideal experience for parents looking to make gaming time into family time. It avoids much of the aggravation found in most two-player games. “It’s a good game to share with people who don’t normally play games, or for when there’s a different skill level between players,” Cox says. “[A] parent and their kid who doesn’t have the dexterity for most games yet—those are the types of the people that I would love to see play the game.”
Play With Each Other, Not Against
You and your co-op partner play as Amna and her son Saif. The two of you are looking for Amna’s daughter Aisha, who has disappeared into a magical forest. Together you must solve puzzles and navigate obstacles in the forest.
Together: Amna & Saif doesn’t encourage you to compete to be the first one to figure out the brainteasers, but rather to work together to finish each level. “Both players are required to beat every level, so you have to work together, you have to communicate,” explains Cox. “There’s no competition in the game.”
The soothing colors and serene music give the game an unhurried, peaceful feel. Amna and Saif simply fall asleep when they don’t clear an obstacle in time, making this a game suited for players of all ages.
Together: Amna & Saif is a PC game that puts one player in control of WASD and the other on the arrow keys. The goal of each level is simple: Both players must get their character onto a switch to open the exit. It’s a game mechanic my six-year-old was already familiar with thanks to Super Mario 3D World.
That doesn’t mean that the levels are easy. “It’s simple, but it’s not simple,” said my daughter with approval. We talked through each level to avoid the monsters and reach our respective switches, but it wasn’t just the obstacles that had us chatting.
The story of Together: Amna & Saif has a strong spiritual theme that isn’t commonly found in video games. This piqued my daughter’s interest. The game doesn’t reference any religion in particular, says Cox, but the characters are vocal about their faith. “Whether those playing are or aren’t religious,” Cox says, “maybe playing the game is a good opportunity to have a discussion with your kid about belief systems and how those beliefs affect the way we approach life.”
Together: Amna & Saif is currently planned for a PC release early next year.