With You, a cute 15-minute cooperative “date game”, is free on Steam

Valentine’s Day is coming, you know!

Not to discredit one of the other fine games sitting in Steam’s ever-changing “New and Trending” section, but when I hovered over With you and saw a pair of funky one-eyed blobs with lanky legs, I was intrigued. I mean, it’s the age-old appeal of Cyclops. I can’t say no! When I noticed the magic words “cooperative campaign”, I was double The fact that it’s a free game – which also goes for the Itch.io version, if you prefer – certainly doesn’t hurt.

User reviews for With you were a collective boost, so why not? I played there. 15 minutes later, I think some of you will also want to play it with your favorite co-op companion. It’s a simple, endearing, not too difficult”dating gameas designer Carol Mertz puts it.

If you played Cutting pliersit’s probably the closest point of comparison – but the mood here is much more serene with soft guitar accompaniment, and it’s less complex.

Mechanically, you and a partner will play as a differently shaped Cyclops, and as obstacles change from level to level, you ultimately seek to align your shape with a matching outline. You can crash, rotate your head and stimulate each other. All of these commands are basic enough that you can put them all on one keyboard.

But more than just a little silly physics and light puzzle solving, there’s the whole thoughtful vibe of With you, which I really dug. The game was designed for “romantic couples”, although Mertz says it “also aims to encourage healthier collaborative habits within any relationship”. Unlike, say, Overcookedyour well-meaning team dynamics are very unlikely to lead to quarrels in the heat of the moment.

“My goal in creating With you was to expand a subgenre of cooperative games that I affectionately refer to as ‘date games’ – non-violent cooperative games for multiple players, which facilitate communication and collaboration,” Mertz said. “These types of games have been a way for me to build and strengthen relationships, trust, and communication between friends, family, and romantic partners.”

I’m not sure I’ve come across this exact categorization before, but looking back, yes, I cherish these kinds of cooperative games and the lasting memories they can foster.

The Steam store summary is candid that With you was a “solo student project [at the NYU Game Center], so it’s very short, a little wonky and made with lots of love. Mertz had more to say on Twitter; the backstory is super engaging and relatable.

“I did With you months away as an MFA ’19 student juggling work, classes, hosting a game festival, and more. not a year for recovery from burnout. It’s weighed on me for the past two years as a project that seems *sort of* done but also *not at all* done.

I just decided a month ago to publish it exactly as it was when I submitted it as my thesis, so I could let go and move on. I didn’t have high expectations.

When I pressed the unlock button, I blamed myself for not adding more polish, better tutorial, splash screen, etc. I braced myself for negative reviews pointing out all the ways I had failed my players.

Now with tears in my eyes writing this, all to try to explain how much it means to me that people appreciate it. All these positive reviews from players around the world remind me that this is not a failure, that I did my best and my best is enough.

Glad to stumble upon this game. It was a much needed pick-me-up.

Jordan Devore

Jordan is a founding member of Destructoid and posts seemingly random images. They are anything but random.

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