The latest friendship-ruining co-op game on Steam is a punishing platformer where you're chained to your pals, and it's about to crack 100,000 concurrent players

Two people chained together in hell
(Image credit: Anegar Games)

Like karaoke, escape rooms, and showering, some things are just more fun with friends. Same goes with games: solving puzzles and overcoming obstacles can turn beating a game into a true collaboration, and that's a feeling you just can't get when playing solo.

But every so often a co-op game comes along that feels like it's designed to end your friendships rather than strengthen them. (Overcooked: I'm looking at you.) The latest entry in that category is called Chained Together, a brutally punishing multiplayer platformer where you're literally connected at the waist to your co-op partners by a chain. 

You and your pal or pals (it supports up to four players) find yourselves in the depths of hell, and the only way out is up. Way up. Climb a massive tower of moving platforms, narrow ledges, spinning traps, and other hazards to escape.

But watch your step! Your fates are linked because your bodies are, so if one of you makes a poorly timed leap the rest of you will suffer the consequences, which is usually a long, tumbling fall back to the bottom of the giant tower you just spent the last hour painstakingly climbing.

I haven't played it myself yet (weirdly, there is a solo mode, too) but it's one of those games that's as much fun to watch people succeed at as it is to watch them horribly fail:

There are three different modes, the right one for you depending on how many screaming matches you want to have with your soon-to-be former friends. If you fall in beginner mode you can resume at the highest point you previously reached, which is nice and forgiving. In normal mode, there's no safety net, so if you fall, you start over from the beginning. Ouch. And in lava mode, the level is steadily being consumed by liquid hot magma. You've gotta climb quickly to stay ahead of the heat, which makes your reckless jumps even more perilous.

Chained Together is only a few bucks on Steam, and it's quickly become a hit in the week since it launched: today it peaked at about 94,000 concurrent players. Just like its players, it'll be fun to see how high it climbs before it starts tumbling back down. 

Christopher Livingston
Senior Editor

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.