Operation Tango is a cooperative soul game with some interesting ideas but not always well implemented.
It is certainly a prolific time for cooperative adventures. After Josef Fares’ deserved leap in quality, analyzed during the review of It Takes Two, it is time to step into the shoes of secret agents in dangerous international missions to face a threat that risks claiming many victims. By a curious coincidence, Clever Plays’ spy adventure recites the motto “it takes two to save the world” and, albeit with the necessary compromises, we are still talking about a lively and interesting experience. .
Wishing to enclose in a few words the second work of the young Canadian studio, we could say that Operation: Tango has not demerited in our eyes, although it lacks that extra touch to become memorable. So we just have to go into details to understand what the Clever Plays spies are made of, and what dangers they are called to face.
Good morning agents
Angel and Alistair are two of the best assets the world has in 2039: the former specializes in infiltration and field operations, while the latter is one of the most skilled hackers around, capable of violating any cybernetic system. During a mission, the traces of Cypher emerge, a terrorist who is preparing to implement his diabolical plan. To get the upper hand and save innocent lives, the two must act quickly, covering each other’s backs. Despite the premise of a “nemesis”, Operation: Tango’s narrative is a mere frame to the actions of the two protagonists, called to travel to different places on the globe.
After the first stage-tutorial (the same as the demo) Cypher becomes the glue for the different tasks, but due to any depth or characterization, it is not attributable to the fundamental pivot of the experience. Not that this is considered a real flaw, on the other hand Clever Plays is an independent studio that has done everything possible to package an adventure close to the stylistic features of the spy movie.
To do this, the Canadian collective has relied on in small interludes made with colored comics, set to music by tracks with a “Jamesbondian” flavor. The result is not very detailed but sufficient narrative preambles, with an operator who will call the two agents in question in six different missions. A scheme that, wanting to look to the past, vaguely recalls the first and historical chapters of Hitman (here you will find our review of Hitman 3). Moving on to a more marked flaw, this could easily be found in Operation: Tango’s narrow longevity, which is around three to four hours. The epilogue lacks any epicness, and one remains slightly dumbfounded and with the desire to play again. In this regard, it is possible to re-face the missions by exchanging the character with your human partner, and in most cases this expedient manages to double the duration of the adventure, with some necessary clarifications.
You only live twice
The beating heart of Operation: Tango is clearly the cooperative spy story experience: those who choose to impersonate Angel must move in small areas where there are numerous technological obstacles and some (read rare) threats to the agent’s safety. Alistair, on the other hand, is mostly “safe” behind her cyber world, providing support to her colleague by unlocking terminals or manipulating access permissions and security systems. On paper, the Clever Plays idea is tantalizing, and the developers have also managed to overturn the game situations with good attitude: for example, in certain stages Alistair has to wander around the dark web “physically” (to be clear, in a way similar to the movie Tron), dodging firewalls and dangerous laser beams. On the other hand, the independent collective has had to compromise on several occasions, presumably to meet budget constraints; Angel feels more like a “hacker in the field”, and most of his actions involve interacting with on-site terminals with only a few vaguely action moments.
So do not expect enemies to stun, shootings or stealth phases, rather a large amount of puzzles to be solved in perfect coordination with your partner.
All together Like It Takes Two, Operation: Tango offers a friend pass to play with a friend by owning only one copy of the title. An excellent choice to encourage sharing, accentuated by the support for cross-play between all the platforms on which Clever Plays’ work will be published.
On this point lies the heart of the experience of Operation: Tango, definitely close to productions like We Were Here (to find out more, refer to our We Were Here review): a large amount of puzzles, to be faced by relying on communication with your partner. On the quality of playful situations, the title offers some noteworthy moments between crazy trains, in-depth investigations and explosive devices. Nevertheless, the developers have often abused some mini-games as a filler, and it is not uncommon to find some solutions already seen previously.
From game to game some elements, such as codes or puzzle solutions, are changed. However, this found does not seem to have been included in all the stages, and this aspect certainly affects the general repetitiveness: faced the adventure in the role of the two characters, there will therefore be no incentives for other runs with different companions.
We are therefore talking about a variety of discreet situations with some reservations, also considering that some sections are largely inspired by other rather well-known independent titles. The whole makes up a pleasant adventure that is entertaining without big pretensions.
We also clarify that the localization in Italian is absent, and this aspect can represent an “obstacle” only at times, that is, when the puzzles require speed of execution to be solved. Fortunately, there is a very good checkpoint system, which tracks progress as each obstacle is passed.
Finally, on the technical side, it is necessary to clarify that during the review phase we found some bugs too many: from problems to the interface to a real disabling error, which did not allow us to continue the adventure during the tests. Fortunately, we were able to overcome the obstacle, and the developers confirmed that they are already aware of the matter, which will presumably be resolved by day one. Finally, a surprise: Operation Tango is one of the free PlayStation Plus games of June, subscribers to the service will be able to download the version for PS5 at no cost starting from Tuesday 1 June.
Operation TangoPC Analyzed VersionOperation: Tango is an exclusively cooperative adventure that follows perfectly in the wake of productions like We Were Here. The idea of impersonating a couple of spies is intriguing, but in fact, those who operate in the field will have to deal with terminals and computer systems as much as the fellow hacker. The result is a pleasant but very narrow experience that is consumed quickly, despite the exclusive sections dedicated to the two characters. It should be remembered that we are in the presence of an independent production, with perceptible budget limits and some errors dictated by inexperience. Nevertheless, those looking for co-op titles relentlessly can find in Operation: Tango a good low budget alternative to approach with due expectations.