Ever wanted a co-op game to play with your significant other? Sure, there are co-op gems on the PlayStation 4, but very seldom are there local co-op games that you know for sure you could get your significant other to play with you. Fortunately, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is one such game. This quirky, unexpected indie title strikes numerous elements so well – it may just be one of the most entertaining co-op titles to hit the PS4.
The basic synopsis is that anti-love creatures have been attacking the universe and have shattered the loving heart that maintained peace and prosperity amongst one another. The anti-love creatures end up capturing and detaining many of the loving inhabitants, which causes despair to ripple through the universe. With the help of a scientist, the few that escaped during this attack are tasked with piloting a vessel designed to withstand itself against this heinous attack. While the story is not the driving factor to keep people interested, the premise works quite well to get things going.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime's gameplay is quite unique. Before venturing out into space, you'll choose a character and a partner if playing solo, otherwise your co-op partner will choose their own character. If playing solo, though, the partnered character will be either a dog or cat, giving it more of a "companion" feel.
The game revolves entirely around a co-op format, as the ship you pilot has various stations to use. The ship has four turret stations (one for each direction), a map station, shield station, piloting station, and Yamato station (a special attack that decimates enemies). While one player is focusing on piloting, the other must be constantly (and freely) navigating the ship to do everything that they can to protect the ship from attack.
When playing with an AI partner, you'll be commanding which station they should go to and utilise. Thankfully the game slows time when doing this, and the AI is incredibly competent in defending the vessel. As mentioned, you will be able to navigate your ship freely, climbing ladders to get to each station, cross paths with your partner, and even scuffle for control of a station with the press of a single button. It really adds an engaging dynamic to be hustling around your ship with your partner to get to each station. However, those looking to co-op should know that this is a local affair only – there's no online co-op to be found here.
The game is comprised of four galaxies to repair, each with five stages, with the last stage being strictly a boss battle. What's unique here is that the areas are randomly generated, so no area is ever the same twice. Even if you fail and retry, the environment will be laid out entirely differently. This works really well actually, and it's hard to tell that the game's randomly generated.
To advance, you will need to find five bunnies, which will unlock the heart portal to escape. However, there are actually ten bunnies in every stage, so while there is leniency, you will level up quicker should you find them all (more on that in a bit). Finding the bunnies won't be a walk in the park, though. Enemies will litter the screen through your journey in each expansive area. When you find encaged bunnies, you'll have to blast the cage off to free them, but be prepared for the amount of enemies ready to attack you the moment you free them.
As you explore the environments, you'll also find presents carrying gems. These gems are used to upgrade the various stations on the ship, and each gem is unique. There are Power, Metal, and Beam gems. Upgrading a turret with a Power gem will make the turret increase its fire rate, whereas using the Metal gem will turn it into a tethered metal ball which you can swing around. Upgrading the piloting station will let you either increase your speed with boost, or even fire projectiles out of the engine while flying to defend your rear.
As you rank up from collecting bunnies, you'll unlock the ability to attach two gems to each station, which then lets you create combinations of upgrades. This system is really neat and provides an aspect of experimentation, as you explore which upgrades work best during missions for you and your partner. It should be noted, though, that once you have completed an entire galaxy upon defeating the boss, all of the upgrades go away and must be collected again in the next galaxy. Also, you'll be able to unlock new ships to use that all have very different methods than the default ship. One might have only three turrets but the ship can spin around, while another lets only one person in a room with a station at a time.
The game actually boasts a vast amount of variety, which keeps things consistently fresh. First and foremost are the environments. While the game takes place in space, each galaxy provides certain elements that change the dynamic a bit. One galaxy might be water-dependent, so you can take cover in water planets from outside fire. Another area is an ice galaxy, where the blizzard-like winds will push your vessels around to make traversal a little more difficult, as well as requiring some fire to thaw out frozen elements. Some areas will have you inside entire caverns, breaking away from the space aspect. Also, there are a few missions where you will have to simply fight waves of enemies to protect an object attached to your vessel from being destroyed, while there's another mission that's a race against the clock before a supernova explodes. And, of course, the boss battles are implemented in clever ways, still requiring the wits and co-operation of you and your teammate. All of the bosses have a specific strategy to them which requires you to meet certain conditions or find a weak point, as opposed to simply blasting away.
And as for the visuals, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is a clean, vibrant looking 2D game. The title runs at a smooth 60 frames-per-second, and it holds this pretty darn well. The main characters and bunnies have a cuteness to them for sure, while the anti-love enemies look precisely as they should – not cute. The ship's turrets all have a liveliness to them and make the craft feel like a character in itself.
Audio wise, meanwhile, the bunnies sigh adorably when you rescue them, turrets sound powerful, the enemies all have distinct sounds to them, and everything else in general sounds as it should. The game's soundtrack does a great job of capturing the setting, with little elevator music playing at the character and stage select screen, to more action appropriate and space exploration music kicking in during gameplay.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is a game that may surprise many. Do not let the title's cute appearance deceive you: this is a very challenging release that demands co-operation. Underneath the outing's cuteness is a fantastic co-op experience, which is still an absolutely great game to play solo – even if it's at its very best with partner. If you've been looking for a quality title that you can play with your significant other, nothing says 'I love you' more than working together as a team, saving bunnies, and blowing up aliens.