The worst thing that can be said about Operation Tango is that it didn’t come out when all of us were stuck inside, because it does an excellent job connecting two people who are in separate rooms. Operation Tango is a co-op game that can only be played by two people using two separate screens. One player is the agent and the other is a supporting hacker. It’s up to both players to work together to complete the task in front of them, be it extracting a poisonous gas from a safe, stealing sensitive information, or stealing files off a moving train.
The game requires a human partner somewhere else, no A.I. or couch co-op in sight here. The game’s main menu only has an option to invite a friend or find a game via code. Which would have been perfect about a year ago when much more of the world was stuck in their houses trying to find ways to communicate with each other online. Still, that doesn’t make Operation Tango any less fun right now. In fact, it may be exactly what you and a friend are looking for anytime at all.
A game of Operation Tango gives players two options: One can be the hacker and the other the agent. There’s then a brief explainer on what the mission is, as well as a loose guide of what to do so the players aren’t completely lost. The fun of Operation Tango is more about figuring out how to solve the objectives given to the players and responding to quick changes during the mission. There are some slight puzzle aspects to every mission, but you’re rarely left wondering what to do next.
The best part of Operation Tango is the variety of these missions. There’s a variety of sequences players go through, and every level features a new challenge. If one level seems dull or not entertaining, you can be confident you’ll get something different to do in a later mission. Hackers and agents also have very different screens and objectives, so switching roles presents new opportunities to find something worth playing. The devs did a good job of keeping both roles fun and varied, and though the agent is slightly more entertaining to play, the hacker-focused missions can be really exciting and create some of the best visuals in the game.
The game itself looks great, with a cell-shaded 3D art style that sets the game about 10-15 years into the future. Playing as the hacker, that palate is more colorful, with an almost cyberpunk style. It’s a good contrast that fits the extremely technological universe this game has created.
Operation Tango does a good job of setting you up for success, but your overall enjoyment is heavily determined by who you play with. This is not a game that is going to be fun with someone that you’ve never met or don’t have particularly good communication with. Longtime friends, significant others, or someone you frequently play games with are the ideal partners here. I personally played with someone I’ve been in an Overwatch group with since 2017. We already have good communication so it made communicating in Operation Tango far more manageable, and that’s important because communication is the key to the game at the end of the day.
That’s because nothing in the game is impossible to explain, but it’s always going to require just enough thought to be a little uncomfortable. For example, at one point we had to find a particular key and they were all similar in design. We had a timer that was quickly counting down on us, but our years of experience playing games together made it something much more manageable than trying to describe a key to a stranger. That said, the game has a fairly generous checkpoint in case of these kind of failures. Missions can even be quit and restarted from the most recent checkpoint, which came in handy when a glitch later disconnected us and forced a restart. It’s also good for when players start to reach some of the later missions, which can take up to an hour if not longer.
Operation Tango would have been perfect a year ago, but that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t play it right now. It can be beaten in a single session or two and can be replayed a second time as a different role. This gives it a little bit of replayability, but unfortunately, it does mean that after a single playthrough the missions lose some of the surprise aspects. The core mechanics here, however, would be great to use in the future if new missions are added. Just make sure you’re feeling good about your dance partner before you tango.