STAFF REVIEW of We should talk. (Xbox One)

Saturday, August 22, 2020.
by Chad Goodmurphy

We should talk. Box art Please be warned that there will be slight spoilers in this review. It’s hard not to talk about certain things.

Prior to taking We Should Talk’s review on, I must admit that I hadn’t really heard about the game. In fact, I researched it beforehand and decided that it sounded short and interesting. After all, I enjoy giving indie games a chance, and have liked a lot of games that many others haven’t bothered with, or dismissed for a bevy of reasons. Games like Cars 2 and Toy Story 3, for instance.

We Should Talk is exactly what its title suggests. It’s a dialogue-based experience, where you have conversations with your significant other and a few other people who happen to spark up a conversation. Thus, all you do is pick dialogue options, and those choices affect which of the nine or so endings you’ll unlock. This is interesting in principle, but the ‘campaign’ is so brief (15-20 minutes) and has such limited dialogue choices that it gets tedious quickly.

You play as an unnamed woman who just so happens to spend at least three nights a week at a swanky, New York City bar. She’s there so often, in fact, that she knows that bartender’s name and story. Her being away from home also worries her girlfriend, who has self-esteem issues and also deals with a difficult job. On top of that, Sam (the girlfriend) has lived a cruddy life, starting with parents who basically ignored her and didn’t accept that she was gay.

After you place an order, by telling the owner what you’d like (from a myriad of options) and deciding whether to flirt with her or not, you’ll get a text from Sam. She loves her short burst texts, too, so expect to wait as one comes in after another. These texts will mostly be about your relationship, but she’ll want to talk about her job and her past. You can choose to be nice or a bit distant, but only certain times allow you to be rude.

Therein lies the basis of this game: Talking to Sam and deciding whether you want to listen to and placate her, or whether you’d prefer moving out and ending your relationship. Through this premise, the player is given the option to flirt with two or three other people, but it almost seems to do nothing except unlock an achievement or trophy.

That’s actually the biggest problem with We Should Talk. It’s simply too forced and doesn’t give you enough options despite its premise. Some of the response choices are so similar that it’s hard to pick which one to respond with. There were also numerous times where I wanted to be rude, or change things up but couldn’t. The game basically pigeonholed me into certain choices.

Although I played through this thing from start to finish a total of four times, I only unlocked the two most common endings. This was not done without effort, or care. Even though I tried to cheat on Sam, I still got the same ending as once before. I tried to change up my responses, but the options were so limited so often that it was difficult to.

In the end, I resorted to looking at a text-based guide online. This confirmed my suspicions that it’s all about the minutia, and too much so. If you don’t pick the right part of certain response sentences you’ll miss out on certain endings. This is true even though said response is so similar to most if not all of the others.

To get all of the endings, I would’ve had to spend hours choosing different parts of up to three-tiered sentences. If I’d use the guide, which I didn’t feel like doing because I was already bored, I would’ve had to go word by word and I just wasn’t up to that. You would think that making major changes would have some affect, but it didn’t in my experience. Hell, I didn’t unlock certain achievements because of the wrong start to sentences, even though it was so similar to the other options. Not that I care.

The premise is interesting, and will appeal to a certain sect of gamers, but there’s so little here that it’s hard to recommend this title to anyone. I respect that it was made by a small team during an indie game expo of some sort, but it’s simply not fun. At its $7 price tag, there’s just not enough here to justify the cost. That is, unless you want to use the guide and follow it letter by letter for nine playthroughs, in order to unlock all one thousand achievement points.

I was hoping that the story of Sam and her unnamed girlfriend would hook me and be memorable, but it simply wasn’t. Sam was annoying and the playable character had very little personality. The writing simply didn’t stand out at all, and it needed to.

We Should Talk’s presentation is also unspectacular, but I kind of expected that. It’s fine for what it is, and the character models’ retro look serves this short, indie game fine. Just don’t expect a looker or anything live action. The music is also 'okay'. There are a few tunes that play on the bar’s speaker as you respond to Sam’s many texts and talk to others, but I didn’t recognize any of them. I also didn’t find any of them to be bad or problematic. The same is true of the limited sound effects.

At the end of the day, We Should Talk is a conversation that you probably won’t enjoy a whole lot, or want to have. Not at its price, at least. If this game was a dollar, it would be easier to recommend, but there’s just not much to it and repeat playthroughs get so very, very tedious because there’s almost no variety. I wanted to like this one, I really did.

This review is based on the Xbox One version of the game, which we were provided with. It was reviewed using an Xbox One X review unit that we were provided with.

Overall: 3.6 / 10
Gameplay: 3.0 / 10
Visuals: 4.5 / 10
Sound: 5.0 / 10


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