Companions puts a little too much on your plate to be as much fun as it could be
You could visualize Companions as a more tactical, less action-oriented Gauntlet where you control all the characters. You don’t get the hundreds of enemies that infested the catacombs of Gauntlet, but you get to manage all four dungeoneers, each with their own attacks and inventory. It’s a little bit loot driven, a little bit exploration, and a little bit tactical. They try to cast a pretty wide net.
Controlling the four characters is easily the toughest part of the game, and takes some getting used to the controls to move everyone around. I was sad to see you can’t tap and draw a path for your character to move, but only tap where you want them to end up. This is an issue when you’d like to get them close to a wall, for instance, since if you tap too close to the wall, the characters just ignore the command completely instead of just getting as close as they can to your tap. Drawing a path would fix this, since you’d see where the path ended.
Luckily the game has what they call “tactical pause” which lets you freeze the action temporarily to get all your characters lined up or set with their individual commands. It sounds great and definitely makes the game more playable, but I can’t help but wonder if it was a feature added after the game was well on its way and they noticed the issue of not having enough time to do what you needed to do as a player.
I’m always one to appreciate and trumpet a well put together tutorial. I think it’s a place where the developer can really put their best foot forward to acclimate you to their game in a safe and quick way. Companions does something I’ve never seen before, and really hope I never see again. The single player campaign actually does more to teach you about the game than the tutorial does. Let me explain.
At some point in the game you’ll be tasked with controlling four characters pretty much at the same time. You’ll need to switch between them and manage all of their hit points and powers. In the single player game you’ll start with one character for their intro, use them for a bit, and then go somewhere else to play the next character’s intro. You’ll use each character by themselves and get the chance to walk and fight a bit with each as they slowly join together. This is an excellent way to acclimate you to different characters with different styles.
The tutorial, however, just throws you in with all four characters at once right from the get go and wants you to switch back and forth right away. It’s completely overwhelming. As an added kicker, if you die during the tutorial you have to go back to the beginning and start over! I’ll put it this way: playing the tutorial made me want to never play this game again, and it was only after skipping it and just starting with the campaign was I able to find any fun here at all.
I wouldn’t say Companions was a bad game – it’s just a really frustrating one. Even after some time, I have to say I think controlling four characters is just too much for one person to do and still have fun. The tactical pause makes it playable, but that doesn’t mean it’s enjoyable. I won’t say it’s definitely not worth your time, but with all the other choices out there nowadays, Companions is a hard recommendation to make.