It takes two to save the world in this cooperative spy adventure. Pair up with a friend as Agent or Hacker—with only your voices to connect you—and work together to bring a hi-tech global menace to its knees.
Publisher: Clever Plays
Reviewed on: PC
Also available for: PS5, PS4, Xbox One
Developer: Clever Plays
Studio Head: Angela Mejia
Game Director: Mattieu Bégin
Artist: Yohan Hervé
Game Designer: Renaud Bartens
In one of the final missions of Operation: Tango, I locked my partner, Ashley Hobley, inside a room because he wouldn’t stop wandering around and failing the mission for us. I felt like the genuine sit-at-home tech guy in any spy mission at this point. At the same time, Ashley played the game as the boot-to-floor Agent infiltrating a highly dangerous location. Operation: Tango manages to make playing both characters just as enjoyable, and that says a lot, given that the tech guy would probably be the least picked in other games.
Operation: Tango is a short but sweet co-op puzzle game in which you play as either Agent or Hacker. Agent is on the ground exploring locations while Hacker infiltrates and gathers data to help move the mission forward. Neither can succeed without the other. And that’s one thing Operation: Tango has going for it: this is a co-op game where communication is more than vital; it’s simply impossible to play this game without it.
There’s no combat in this game, and if you’re looking for that, it’s the wrong kind of spy game. Operation: Tango is a co-op puzzle game where you’ll be stopped in your tracks every couple of seconds with something new requiring players to work together to find a solution and move forward. More straightforward puzzles simply mean that Hacker solves a locked door problem for Agent. At the same time, puzzles later in the game involve the two completing math problems and testing your communication skills to describe symbols.
For the most part, the puzzles didn’t repeat themselves in Operation: Tango, and if they did, the difficulty had been stepped up considerably, or there’s a new spin on the puzzle. Several of these had Ash and me struggling and having to restart the checkpoint over and over. They can be pretty simple too. For example, one area has Hacker looking birds-eye on a grid to activate blocks to help Agent cross. However, Hacker cannot see the incoming danger in the room that can kill Agent so Ash had communicated to me where these objects were so I could move him around the room in a path safely.
The puzzle design in Operation: Tango is relatively simple, but because it’s designed so that communication between two players is necessary, they feel like nothing you’ve ever played before. The game is an amalgamation of things we’ve all played or puzzles we’ve solved before, just presented in a new and unique way.
PLAYER 2, ASHLEY HOBLEY SAYS:
The thing that impressed me the most about Operation: Tango is how balanced the two different roles were. It would have been easy for the Spy to have been the more dominant player in the gamer, but the Hacker also gets time to shine with missions alternating between the real world and cyberspace. Both roles are fun to play through, with the Agent running around real locations, dodging drones and enemy spies while the Hacker provided intel, controlling robots and altering data.
Communication is everything in this game, and working with a partner who can solve puzzles and communicate well will make the game much easier, which is why Dylan was lucky to have me. There is a great deal of satisfaction to earn by solving many puzzles that had us stumped for a little while.
There is a basic story, but it is really an afterthought and only serves to set up each mission. With only six missions, the game feels a bit too short and leaves you wanting more.
I want to clarify the communication aspect: you couldn’t play this game solo at all. I don’t care how good you think you are at running two consoles or PCs simultaneously; it just wouldn’t work. In that regard, it’s also worth noting that, unlike recent co-op darling, It Takes Two, this game isn’t a split-screen co-op game, and you can only play it online. It’s designed that way, so this is a case where I understand why it doesn’t contain a local split-screen at all.
Story-wise there’s little here, but it doesn’t matter at all. A bare-bones 70’s inspired spy narrative introduces Agent and Hacker alongside a villain intent on world domination — or something along those lines. There’s a short cutscene between each of the game’s six missions to add some context for what you’re doing, but Operation: Tango had the story built back with the gameplay coming first.