Unique cooperative gameplay concepts that work well are hard to come by. However, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime goes above and beyond expectations. If you're ready, let's take off and bring some love back to the universe.
First off, I should mention that I completed Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime with my wife. Considering how much she loved the cute characters and how I found the space exploration and combat very satisfying, it got me thinking that the developers may have crafted the ultimate date game. Whether they did it intentionally or not, the combination of elements that dudes and ladies stereotypically enjoy along with the fact that you're working together end up making this quite an impressive catalyst to bond with your closest chum.
The basic concept of Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is that you and a pal run between stations in a spaceship in order to explore galaxies while fighting off alien forces. All of the love in the universe is slowly waning due to the increase of anti-love, so it's your job to restore the universe's most powerful element back to its former glory. To do so, you and a buddy man various components of your circular craft including the thruster which actually moves the ship, shields to deflect enemy fire, and various weapons. The key to success is constant communication (or the ability to issue the best commands to your computer-controlled dog or cat if you're playing by yourself). Thankfully, a necessary tutorial explains all the gritty details in a very intuitive way.
Visually, you're treated to some of the cutest sights in all of gaming. From nerdy bunnies ceaselessly banging away on their computers to imprisoned kitties screaming for help, each bite-sized character exudes charm. The stages themselves are rendered with dim backgrounds and neon-coloured foregrounds which provides a useful contrast as it helps you focus on the gameplay. Audio consists of spacey electronic tunes and effects that manage to be even more adorable than the graphics. Hearing the little critters run up and down ladders and celebrate upon being rescued adds layers of sweetness to an already delightful game.
One of the best parts of Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is that it never becomes boring. This is because the gameplay constantly throws curveballs at you. You start off exploring simple areas but over time new features are added such as underwater portions, time limits, bombs with an ever-expanding radius, planets with their own gravitational pull, levels that primarily consist of battle arenas, and zones where your ship automatically rotates. A segment that impressed me is one where ice-covered enemies emerge that can only be defeated by shooting at suns so bits of fire ricochet and melt them. Additionally, the end of each set of levels is marked with a unique boss. To help you deal with all this insanity is an intriguing weapons system which allows you to upgrade the ship's components by equipping gems. Experimenting with combinations of gems is extremely rewarding, especially when you discover something that suits your play style. Heck, you can even place gems on your thruster to make it an additional weapon.
Although Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is a phenomenal co-op game, it does have a few downsides. The main game is composed of four campaigns each containing four levels and a boss fight. This might not sound like much, but each campaign can take anywhere from half an hour to over an hour to complete. Every level has ten friends to find (five of which are mandatory), so finding all 160 will definitely take some time and effort. Where this turns into something disappointing is that there really isn't anything to do after you find all of them and complete the game. You could try to beat your level times, but with no leaderboards (or any online features); I don't know why anyone would want to. Finally, the stage layouts are randomly generated which is great since they always seem to be carefully thought out, but sometimes the hand that you're dealt is much too difficult. This is especially true in the later levels where one such occurrence had way too many enemies spawn in the middle of a turret-filled confined space. My wife and I had no choice but to watch our little ship's health drain and inevitably explode. Probably the most frustrating level is one that you have to complete in five minutes. If you want to rescue all of the friends in it then you may as well keep quitting and retrying until the layout looks slightly doable.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is one of the best cooperative gaming experiences that I've ever played. Seeing as it appeals to both lovers and fighters, this is a definite must-buy for any gamer who wants to spend some quality time with their gaming pal.
- + Unique cooperative concept with constant twists that keep the gameplay fresh
- + Adorably charming visuals and audio
- + Satisfying upgradable weapon system
- - Almost no replay value after you complete the main game and rescue all of the friends
- - Generated stage layouts can be unfair
- - No leaderboards or any online features