Quick Look – Operation Tango (Humble Choice – May 2023)

Although I am – for the most part – a single player game kind of person, I will admit that I have a bit of a soft spot for two player co-op where communication is key. Operation Tango was a game already on my radar, but my typical puzzle-gaming co-op partner and I were unable to get anything scheduled, so I convinced my (somewhat reluctant husband to play through the first couple of missions with me. According to IsThereAnyDeal, this is the first time Operation Tango has appeared in a bundle, and it retails for $19.99.

I feel like I need to start with the one thing that Operation Tango does better than a lot of two-player, co-op required games. It does not require both players to purchase the game in order to play. As long as one player owns the game, they can direct their friend to install the free Friend Pass, and invite them to a game. Achievements are not available for players using the friend pass instead of the full game, and the person who owns the game needs to create the session, but otherwise, it allows the second player to engage fully with the content.

You’ll need to decide which of your team is going to play as the agent, and which as the hacker. I left the choice up to my husband, and he picked agent, and I was relieved. I expected that meant that I was going to be the one primarily working my way through databases and checking out security cameras, while he dealt with the actual threats, but there are definitely some places where even the hacker needs to be fast on their feet. Each mission starts with a little scrap of story, and then you’re each dumped into your side of the mission and you need to start figuring things out. You work your way through a sequence of objectives, and hopefully don’t get each other killed.

However, if you do, the penalty for death is almost nothing. You’re brought back to the precise place that you failed (or as close as you can be without getting caught in a failure loop), and any puzzles you’ve already completed stay that way. I feel like this cuts way down on the potential for one or both players to get frustrated, and I really appreciated this design decision.

I also liked that a lot of the information is randomized – you can’t just memorize the answers and speedrun your way through the game. If I was too slow in entering a code, it would always be different the next time. Which maybe drove my husband a little crazy, as he had to keep dodging lasers in order to access the terminal and read me the code, but it definitely adds replay value, beyond that of playing from the opposite perspective.

There are seven scripted missions, and an additional challenge mode, so if you’re satisfied with playing only a single role, you could be done with this game in half a dozen hours. The puzzles are also a bit on the simple side from a “figuring things out” perspective, so dedicated puzzle gamers might feel like the game is too easy. I personally don’t consider either of these things to be a negative – in fact, this would be a pretty good introductory experience to this type of game for someone who doesn’t have a lot of puzzle game experience.

Having played through the first couple of missions, this is definitely a game I would go back to. It’s a nice pick-up for a Humble Choice offering, but it’s really only going to have value for someone who has someone to play with, as there is no matchmaking of any type in the game. It’s been discounted to below $10 on various platforms, so there’s maybe not enough value here to pick up the bundle solely for this title, but if you’re grabbing the bundle anyway, and you have a willing friend to play with, you’ll likely get a few hours of fun out of it.

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