Operation: Tango is a promising new co-op title that has one play the spy and one as the hacker who guides the agent forward. Using asynchronous gameplay at its fullest, the game presents a spy adventure that’s inspired by the likes of Mission Impossible and Hyper Reality. You can get it now on PS4 and PS5 through PlayStation Plus, but it’s also available on PC and Xbox platforms. Like It Takes Two from Hazelight, there is also a free friend pass, so you can play it with a friend online (otherwise, you won’t be able to play it). We spoke to Liz Macdonell, the Community Manager at Clever Plays to find out more. This interview is yours if you choose to accept it.
RetroWare: Can you give us the elevator pitch for Operation Tango? What makes this asynchronous multiplayer game different to the rest?
Liz Macdonell: Operation: Tango is a 2 player online co-op where you work with a partner as Agent or Hacker to save the world and bring a cybercriminal to their knees! Since it’s an asymmetric game, you have to rely on verbal communication to solve the puzzles and make your way through the chapters, uncovering more information as you go. Communication is KEY but also can be the biggest puzzle of all.
RW: What game development background do you have, if any?
LM: I’ve been a video game lover my entire life, and was lucky enough to get to start following my passion for them as a career last year when I joined the team over at Clever Plays. As a studio though, we were founded in 2013 by an amazing husband and wife team, Mattieu Bégin, who has AAA experience from Ubisoft Montreal and Angela Mejia, who brings her business acumen and management prowess to the team.
RW: Where did the idea of making a co-op spy adventure come from?
LM: Finding new ways to play together, but apart, is more important now than ever. We wanted to explore a fun way to co-op and bring in some of the “Hollywood Spy” feel that we love about classic movies such as Mission Impossible while mixing in near future technology like in Hyper Reality, a short film by Keiichi Matsuda.
RW: Can you explain the moment-to-moment gameplay for both the hacker and the spy for our readers?
LM: From moment to moment you have to work together and it changes throughout the level and the game. The Agent might be on location having to sneak past security drones while the Hacker is guiding them with security cam views, or the Hacker might be making their way through the darknet, having to find the correct path, while the Agent is their support on the outside, helping them discover the way to go. It is extremely different at each level and both characters have equal weight and participation.
RW: What gadgets and tools are at your disposal?
LM: The Hacking Tool is the star of the show, as a futuristic tablet that allows our Agent and Hacker to communicate with each other, hack locked doors, download important information, or survey the area. The game also features handheld EMPs, augmented reality glasses, and more as you go up against next level tech when it comes to the bad guy’s patrolling drones and security measures.
RW: You say on the Steam page that there are missions all around the world to finish. Where are we visiting?
LM: From the Netherlands to Vancouver, Canada, the game does take you across the globe. If you’re wanting a sneak peek as to the exact locations of each mission, you can go to operation-tango.com/newsletter , sign up for our newsletter, and we send you a mission location guide and art book, as well as an original song from our soundtrack, as a thank you.
RW: Can you give us an example of a puzzle we’d face in Operation Tango?
LM: One of my favourite puzzles personally is actually one of the first you face! You have to work together to get a ball through some obstacles, however, one player controls A and D whilst the other is controlling W and S. Watching people try and communicate and move the ball at the same time without hitting the walls or obstacles, which cause you to restart, is always thoroughly entertaining.
RW: Were you inspired by the likes of Mission Impossible and James Bond? How did that seep into the game if so?
LM: Absolutely! The “Hollywood Spy” era was a huge inspiration for the game, especially the early Mission Impossible films which often didn’t include a lot of violence (unlike some of the later iterations), and focused on high-stakes espionage. We wanted to make the game feel like your own heist, and hopefully, you picked the right team for that to be successful.
RW: A multiplayer game lives and dies by its content. How many levels do you have at launch and is there a roadmap ahead to keep your players engaged?
LM: There are six missions (levels) in the game currently, which increase in length and difficulty as the game progresses. We estimate that the game will take five hours to complete, depending on your puzzle-solving skills, as one character, but we recommend playing through BOTH roles because while the story is the same, the experience is very different for Agent vs Hacker. We would love to continue to make missions for Operation: Tango and release DLC, but it all depends on the community’s wants and needs.
RW: What was the motivation behind making your game free for PlayStation Plus subscribers? Are the successes of Rocket League and Fall Guys on your mind? Would you recommend this to other indie developers?
LM: The real magic of Operation: Tango is playing it: The experience of trying to figure out how to communicate with your partner, and the laughs and memories that creates. We wanted to have as many people get to experience that magic, which is why having a program such as PlayStation Plus, is absolutely fantastic. Every indie game is different and has different needs. PlayStation Plus was the perfect choice for us, and worth looking into to see if a program like this would fit your indie game.
RW: Do you think partnering with PlayStation with Plus helps Operation: Tango stand out in a busy crowd of game releases every month?
LM: June is normally a slower month in regards to new game releases, but this year there is a star-studded lineup! Having the support from SONY and the PlayStation Plus program has been immensely helpful and really has increased awareness and interest in Operation: Tango.
RW: What is the friend pass? If you have the game on the PlayStation, can your friend on the Xbox play it with the friend pass? How does it work?
LM: Yes, that is exactly right! As long as one of you has the game, you can play it regardless of platform. For more information, we have an FAQ setup on our website: http://www.operation-tango.com/operation-tango/faq/
RW: Voice chat is essential for Operation: Tango to work, and everyone has a different headset. How do you make sure everyone sounds clear enough for the other player to understand what is being said?
LM: Having a great headset is important to play, but it doesn’t have to be top of the line, as long as the player can hear you. There is no online matchmaking, you get to pick who your partner is for the missions, so there won’t be an issue of connecting with a random player and not being able to hear them. If you don’t have a partner in mind to play with, you can join our growing community over on discord and we have a specific Looking For Player channel!
RW: Is there an underlying narrative in the game?
LM: There is an overarching story throughout Operation: Tango, and as you make your way through the missions, more and more pieces of the proverbial puzzle are revealed.
RW: Why do you think co-op games have become so popular over the past few years? Is it because of the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic or something else?
LM: Having to be apart and away from social interactions has forced people to find their fun and connection online, and this has given rise to a lot more demand for fun co-op games that may not be as mechanically demanding since there has been an influx of new video game players. Overall seeing more co-op and multiplayer games has been wonderful.
RW: Is there anything we missed?
LM: We adore hearing stories from people playing Operation: Tango! If you play the game, let us know on our social media or in our Discord or Reddit communities!
Operation: Tango is now available to play on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S | X, and PC. Thanks, Clever Plays for your time on this interview.