Cooperative Espionage: "Operation: Tango" Review
"Operation: Tango is an espionage-themed cooperative adventure challenging you and a friend to complete dangerous missions across the globe in a high-tech near-future world. As an exclusive team of two, you and your partner will become AGENT and HACKER, working in tandem to bring a high-tech global menace to its knees. With only your voice to link you, teamwork is crucial, and communication is key!"
Operation: Tango is a cooperative adventure in which you are required to work together with a teammate to solve several different puzzles in order to complete espionage missions with the goal of capturing a plotting cyber-villain. The game is the second by developer Clever Plays, and was released on June 1st, 2021 on Steam, PS4/PS5, and Xbox One, and will be coming soon to Epic Games and Xbox Series X|S. The game launched with cross-platform play enabled, and even included a "Friend Pass" that allows a player to play the game for free as long as their teammate has purchased it.
I stumbled upon this game as a prospect for Thrifty Thursday, where I stream games on Twitch that are free-to-play through PlayStation Plus or other means. PlayStation Plus currently offers 3-4 games free to their subscribers each month, one of them being exclusive to the PS5. Operation: Tango was the PlayStation 5 PS+ Game of the Month in June, so naturally I was intrigued by the prospect of a cooperative multiplayer puzzle game, and the great price point -- you can't beat free. Make sure you take advantage of the deals and claim the PS+ games if you're a subscriber! You can even claim the PS5 game if you don't have one yet by going to the PlayStation website and adding it to your library from there. But anytime I see a cooperative game, I'm interested, and I've got a teammate in mind. So I called up my fellow Infinity Bro and co-op partner in crime Zayne to take on the challenge.
Cooperative games are challenging in some aspects; many gamers lack the patience to trust in their teammate to do their part, and in turn, become either frustrated or become lousy teammates themselves as they try to muscle their way through the game individually. This game takes the aspect of trusting your teammate and puts it under a microscope. You start out the game with a choice of two characters: the Agent, or the Hacker. You and your teammate each choose a role, which will determine the parts you play in each puzzle that you encounter. As you begin to enter the series of puzzles that make up the core components of each mission, you realize that you and your teammate are working on different parts of the same puzzle, and it will be impossible to complete that puzzle without effective communication. For instance, one particular puzzle gives the instructions for one player to the opposite player, so they would have to read or communicate the instructions in order for the first player to solve the puzzle correctly. While many of the puzzles repeat themselves throughout the missions, there are some incredibly creative challenges that take some thinking to come up with the solution.
My fellow Infinity Bro Zayne and I have a good understanding of each other's strengths and weaknesses in gaming from playing several other cooperative multiplayer games together, and the roles that we chose really ended up complementing our playing styles. He chose the Hacker, as the Hacker is often playing the "behind the scenes" roles; taking control of certain pieces of equipment, inputting codes found by the Agent, and guiding the Agent to the correct solution of each puzzle. The Agent is the boots on the ground, doing all the dirty work and springing the plan into action. Upon launching into the missions, we quickly found that this game was going to take more combined effort than simply doing the same tasks together to complete the puzzles.
The missions usually comprise of 2 larger sections that may include several smaller puzzles to complete. As mentioned before, these puzzles are dependent on each teammate playing an essential part to complete. Going into many of these puzzles completely blind was almost beneficial, as once we nailed down the pattern for many of these brain-teasers, they were fairly simple to complete. If I were to re-play this game, I would want to switch roles to keep that level of mystery and challenge; otherwise, the puzzles wouldn't be challenging enough to enjoy it. But we had a blast trying to figure out the patterns and working together to solve each puzzle, and the hilarity that ensued from trying to describe each other's next steps or control a moving dot together was absolutely worth the trial and error of the beginning of each scenario.
Besides the puzzling, Operation: Tango has a 'less is more' type of feeling to it; simple yet clever art and visuals, witty and quick dialogue with clever pop culture references sprinkled throughout, and a fun and entertaining story that doesn't require deep thinking to enjoy. There is very little explanation or direction during the missions besides the main objective, which forces the players to explore every option and try different solutions until one works. The puzzles felt balanced for the most part, but once you were able to decipher the code on how to solve them, they did seem simple, although a quick difficulty adjustment on the next playthrough may challenge us enough to remedy that. I personally feel that some puzzles in these type of games take me a bit longer to solve, which is one reason why it's best for me to take these kinds of games in small doses. Luckily, I had a great teammate in Zayne, and together we were able to complete most puzzles with only a few attempts. Operation: Tango did feel very quick, however; Zayne and I were able to complete the game in about 4 hours of total play time, and the full game includes only 6 playable missions at this time. Overall, we very much enjoyed the time that we played, but we were a little surprised when we found that the game was over and we had no more missions to complete.
Infinity Bro Zayne had this to say of Operation: Tango: "This game is a 5.5 out of 6. Operation: Tango is a great teamwork game that relies on communication and quick thinking to solve a variety of puzzles. It is a great game that often leads way to laughter and isn't overly complicated to sit down and enjoy. And having a steady thumb will also help you greatly." I agree with him wholeheartedly, and thoroughly enjoyed completing this game with him. This was a very laid-back, charming, and enjoyable game that I would be very interested to continue playing if the developers were to come out with more content. I rate this game 4.5 out of 6 Infinity Stones, and would absolutely recommend it to anyone who enjoys puzzle-type and cooperative video games.