The co-op video game – an experience that unites friends together as they work as a team to achieve a common goal. Throughout the years I’ve took part in a ton of co-op action. I’ve beaten down criminals in Streets Of Rage, destroyed the Locust threat in Gears Of War and I’ve even been part of a rock group in Rock Band. It’s fair to say that co-operative modes are often the most enjoyable multiplayer option in a video game.
Enter Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime, the first co-op experience that has seen me shout at my co-op partner, celebrate with them and then start shouting at them all over again in the space of thirty seconds. Yes, that may sound extreme, but it’s all down to the emotions that the game evokes. I’ve never played a game that has caused me so much stress, but it was worth it – it’s one of the most enjoyable co-op experiences I’ve ever had in any video game.
The story of Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime unsurprisingly bases itself on the emotion of love. Scientists have managed to build a reactor that powers itself through love, uniting everyone in the galaxy together in a peaceful and harmonious atmosphere. Of course, we all know peace doesn’t last forever – disaster strikes when the dark forces of Anti-Love destroy the reactor, ripping a hole through time and space itself in the process, and sucking all the love out of the galaxy. The once happy inhabitants of the galaxy are left imprisoned, and it’s up to you as a member of The Lovers (League Of Very Empathetic Rescue Spacenauts) to defeat the evil Anti-Love forces and bring love to the galaxy once again.
It’s an utterly bizarre premise, the likes of which you’d expect to see on an insane Cartoon Network show, but this just makes the game all the more appealing. Who wouldn’t want go on a mission to return love to a galaxy and save little bunny-like inhabitants? Don’t be fooled though – whilst the premise of Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime may seem cutesy and fun, the actual gameplay itself can be very punishing.
You and a partner (if you don’t have a co-op buddy to play with you can team up with an AI partner) must both control a circular space ship. Of course, this isn’t an easy task as the space ship was designed to be manned by seven people at once. It’s up to you to divide the control of seven different functions between two characters – an arduous task to begin with, but something that’ll slowly come naturally to you with the right amount of communication and co-ordination.
The ship’s functions include navigation, controlling each of the ship’s four guns, aligning the ship’s shield, checking a map and charging up the ship’s more powerful cannon. If it wasn’t already a difficult task to manage everything with just two of you, you also have to navigate through your ship as quickly as possible in order reach the relevant control panel for each function – all whilst trying to protect the ship from enemy fire that hits from every direction possible. It can be incredibly difficult and you’ll be under a lot of stress as you try to co-ordinate your actions between two players, but you’ll be having a damn good time doing so – even if you do end up swearing at each other for every little mistake you both make.
Levels see you navigating through perilous constellations as you seek out the imprisoned inhabitants of the galaxy. Once you’ve saved the required amount, the route to the next level will unlock. Of course, there are plenty of things to stop you progressing – there’s a ton of enemies, environmental hazards and traps just waiting to destroy your ship. This is where careful management of all your ship’s systems comes into play.
You and a friend will have to quickly swap between control panels as you navigate through each level. Ton of enemy missiles coming your way? Someone better man the shield quickly. Enemies coming from left and right? You’ll both need to man guns in order to fight them off. Doing all of these things whilst also trying to navigate through each level can prove to be quite difficult, so expect to die a lot along the way. This difficulty never feels unfair though – every failure in the game is down to you and your partner’s poor ship management skills. It encourages you to get better and better though, and before long you’ll be running the ship with minimal fuss as each action you need to take starts to come naturally to you.
As you progress through each level you’ll be able to unlock upgrades that will improve each function of your ship. You’ll be able to get the likes of a more durable shield and more powerful weapons – one of my personal favourites being the wrecking ball that can wipe out enemies with ease. Of course, like everything else in Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime, you’ll have to manage your upgrades carefully. There were so many times where enemies would come from all directions except for the one I’d placed my almighty wrecking ball, leaving me frustrated that I’d neglected other areas of the ship with minimal upgrades.
Levels are randomly generated, meaning you’ll never play the same stage twice or even be slightly prepared for what the game throws at you. Randomly generated levels often lack a personal touch, resulting in levels that can feel a little bland and repetitive – fortunately this is never the case with Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime. Levels are spacious and both look and feel completely unique each time you play through them, offering a variety of different things to look at and survive through. The unpredictable nature of the game means you have to be prepared for anything at any given moment – a testament to the quality each level offers.
Whilst you can play through the game on your own with AI assistance, to get the most out of Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime you will want to play the co-operative mode with a friend. It’s worth mentioning that the game only features local co-op, though I actually think couch co-op is the most enjoyable way to play a game like Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime.
That doesn’t mean the AI companion isn’t competent though. You’re given the choice of either a dog or cat to help you, and they do a good job making sure your ship doesn’t meet its doom. You’ll direct them to each control panel and they’ll do the work from there – who would’ve known a cat could handle the guns of a space ship so effectively?! Whilst co-op with a friend is the best way to play Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime, solo isn’t all that bad either.
Graphically the game looks great with a ton of bright colours making up the galaxy. Enemy and ship designs are highly creative, something especially clear with the intense boss fights. Your ship will leave a stream of colour as you navigate through each level too, adding to the vibrant charm that the game seems to have in abundance.
I feel like I may have mentioned how difficult Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime can be a lot in this review, but don’t let that put you off. Working through that difficulty and forming a mighty duo with your co-op partner is one of the most satisfying feelings I’ve felt playing a video game. Honestly, Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime is an absolute blast to play from start to finish – as soon as we finished the roughly five hour campaign we instantly jumped in for more. It’s that good.
Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime is a damn good game and if you’ve got two controllers and a friend who’s willing to play through it with you I’d recommend you pick it up right now. If you’re planning on playing on your own you’ll still have a good time, but don’t expect the same intense experience you might’ve had with a friend.
– Some of the best co-op gameplay I’ve experienced in any game
– Ship management manages to be stressful but incredibly fun at the same time
– An absolutely wacky premise that’s full of charm
– Bright, vibrant visuals