“It’s the perfect game for couples,” says Jamie Tucker, the mustachioed co-founder of Asteroid Base, developers of “Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime.” Working together is at the core of this colorful, easy-to-love, and at turns infuriatingly difficult and tremendously rewarding co-op arcade shooter. And Tucker believes that couples, sitting on their couch in front of their Xbox One, make the perfect team.
The concept is that two astronauts operate a spherical ship using a variety of control stations placed throughout its interior. Each astronaut can only control one station at a time, so someone’s got to be steering while another mans the guns. If someone wants to go move the shields to block incoming shots, well, he’s got to give up what he’s doing and let that system go unmanned. It’s about resource allocation – human resource allocation – and communication. A good part of the fun is just letting your partner know what you’re doing, and what you need him or her to do in turn.
Of course, you’re not just flying around at random. You’re in a brightly colored star system filled with asteroids, hostile alien beings of bizarre form, and…bunnies. Yes, bunnies that need your help! There are also power-up crystals that, when paired with various ship’s systems, give each system a different advantage. For example, placing the Beam gem in one of your gun’s systems turns it from a pea shooter into a formidable beam weapon, whereas the Metal gem can turn the same gun into a morning-star like melee weapon.
Upgrades or not, though, “Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime” is all about teamwork. While you can play the game by yourself (a daunting challenge to say the least, although you will be assisted by a helpful AI dog!) the frantic “I need you to cover the left side!” pace of a given level is a big part of the fun. Controls are simple enough that even non-gamers can pick up and play the game easily, so you should be able to cajole your game-naïve significant other into playing without too much trouble.
Each playthrough is scored against previous playthroughs, so teams can see how they stacked up against each other, and there are a couple of difficulty levels, one easy and the other more challenging, to test your tandem skills. Furthermore, levels feature procedurally generated tiles, so no game is ever exactly the same.
Stay tuned for more on “Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime,” coming to Xbox One via the [email protected] self-publishing program.