Version Tested: PC
Also available on: Linux, OS X, XBox One
Developer: Asteroid Base
Publisher: Asteroid Base
Genre: Co-op Action, Shooter
To give you a sense of what you are dealing with, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime begins with a rabbit scientist (that is, a rabbit who is a scientist. Not a scientist who studies rabbits) explaining to you that there has been an explosion in the space station that brings love to the universe, and anti-love is starting to take over. You and your partner, the lovers of the title, need to climb in an experimental ship, rescue the cute cuddly creatures that are being held captive by space bugs, and restore love to the universe. Standard stuff.
This bizarre story is window dressing for a unique blend of co-op gameplay, whether or not you have someone to play with. The two players each control a character that can run one of the eight stations on board your ship. The problem is, you can therefore only run two at a time. If you do not have anyone to join in with you, you control one character directly and can slow down time with the touch of a button, sending your pet cat or dog to one of the stations before taking control of your character back.
This element of gameplay creates a fun sense of panic, as you and your partner try to choose between running one of the four mounted cannons, the super-powered timing based gun, the radar, the shield, or just jumping on the engine and trying to get the heck out of whatever firefight you are in. Trying to take charge and figure out the strengths and weaknesses of your teammate make for a frenetic style of gameplay that rarely gets overwhelming to the point of frustration. There are some difficulty spikes here and there, and the default keyboard scheme is a bit cramped, but Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is at its finest during these moments.
Herein also lies one of the game’s weaknesses. Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is definitely designed to be played with two players. However, it cannot be played online; it is strictly a local multiplayer game. This means that, most likely, your options are limited for who you can play the game with. When I was testing the co-op, my teammate was completely out of her comfort zone with this type of game, as fast, twitch-based shooters are completely out of her wheelhouse. She struggled with the steering of the ship and recognizing where to be. This was partially because it was our first time playing the game, but it would have been nice to be able to hop online and play with someone a little more comfortable in the shooter genre.
That being said, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is full of those fun moments that only a couch co-op game can provide. Sometimes, the game breaks into sheer panic that can end in total destruction or snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. One moment that stand out involved a race to the exit, our ship flashing red, and attacks coming from all directions. We decided that to stand and fight was useless and began a panicked flight to the exit (a hearth-shaped wormhole, of course). With me on the engine and Danielle manning our turret to clear a path in front of us, we yelled, rammed into walls, and barely escaped with a shred of life remaining. Our relief and sense of victory was huge, we laughed, high-fived, and had to step away from the game briefly before jumping into the next level. Obviously, these scenarios are designed with local multiplayer in mind. But it does limit the appeal of the game that this is the only option to play with a partner.
The game itself is rather short, with only five campaigns of five levels each. The last level of each of those campaigns is a boss, based on a constellation (Ursa Major is the first, for example). There is some replay value in unlocking different ships and characters and attempting to beat previous fast runs. Gameplay tends to get stale, especially in playing the one player mode. Different levels switch up the formula a bit (some are focused on massive amounts of enemies, some on traps, some on beating just a few difficult baddies) but the game tends to get a bit stale during prolonged play sessions. The pounding music, the over the top colorful graphics, the tense, panicked gameplay: all these elements combine to be a bit draining. If a game like this cannot consistently one-up itself, it can hit some boring stretches.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime gets a recommendation, but with a caveat. If you have someone who reliably can sit down and play a couch co-op shooter, you can do much worse. It is fun, upbeat, and has plenty of those dramatic moments that only happen when you and your teammate are sitting next to each other. The repetitive gameplay, lack of online multiplayer, and difficulty spikes mean that it is certainly not for everyone. If you are searching for a fun co-op, give Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime a whirl. It’s a fun ride while it lasts.
Our Gameplay Coverage:
What did you think of Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime? Do we need more couch co-op games? Let us know!
- Great Local Multiplayer
- Vibrant Graphics
- Intense Music
- Interesting Storyline
- No Online Co-Op
- Somewhat Shallow