I didn’t have an appointment for Push Me Pull You at PAX East, and barely had enough time to eat, let alone squeeze in drop-ins. But it was one of those games that I could not pass by without trying, and I’m so glad I did.
In the Push Me Pull You universe, people are joined together at the waist, turning the entirety of society into a nation of weird double-headed elastic tube people who love soccer. Think CatDog, but with people, and soccer. I fell in love immediately. Push Me Pull You is a ridiculous, amazing, and somewhat creepy local multiplayer game in which you and a friend cooperatively control one of these big, wormy bodies. It’s slightly horrific while still managing to be inexplicably charming – far more charming than the world we actually live in.
The game is intended to be played with two to four players – although with two, you’ll be assuming control of both heads, which is not as easy as it sounds. The majority of Push Me Pull You is played out in a sports arena. The game is couch co-op, with you and a friend sharing control of a single gamepad, taking responsibility for one half of the controller each and, thus, one of the heads. The bodies are incredibly elastic, with each player able to stretch and contract. Your primary goal is to assume control of a ball with your body, in some maps bringing it onto your side of the arena and managing to keep it in your possession longer than your opponents. As the maps change, the objective changes – more balls, environmental challenges, and more. If you took wrestling, soccer, and a big uncooked sausage and threw it all into one video game, you might have a slight idea of what this is about.
Push Me Pull You is more than just a silly game, it’s actually quite strategic. The elasticity is not just a mechanic in the game, it’s the entire source of balance in it. Every decision that you make, from the ways that you can gain and keep possession of the ball to how you navigate alongside your partner, is tied to this sensation. Stretching further may help you gain control of the ball, but it also weakens you as a unit. Your head is the strongest point, and the further you stretch, the weaker the middle of the body becomes.
The entire premise of the game is that you are connected, which makes the controller sharing that much more special. It’s a co-op game in every sense of the word, for better or worse, and demands constant communication as well as physical closeness. I love basically everything about it.
Push Me Pull You is the type of game that could easily appeal to non-gamers as well. It’s approachable, simple to learn yet difficult to master, and most importantly, always fun. The rounds are brief yet frantic, but never actually stressful. We spent the entire time cracking up – even the developers, who have certainly played this game more than anyone else, were still amused and charmed by it. I can easily see Push Me Pull You being a brilliant party game, and should I ever become one of those people who hosts parties this is at the top of my list.
Push Me Pull You will launch on PlayStation 4 on May 3, with Windows, Mac, and Linux versions coming soon.