I’m consistently impressed with the quality of games that a small staff of dedicated developers can create. It used to be the video game market was made up of expensive AAA games and then a bunch of B-tier games that still often cost as much as the good ones did. Over time the gaming landscape shifted and with gaming budgets soaring into the millions of dollars, companies like Acclaim just couldn’t compete any longer. For a while there was a growing void and we were in danger of losing out on some of the special smaller titles that used to permeate store shelves.
Fast-forward to today and I’d argue that the Nintendo Switch wouldn’t be half the system it is without the amazing support of smaller indie developers. In fact, some of my favorite games this year are only accessible via the eShop. Some of these games have appeared over the years on other platforms, but with the emphasis on local co-op play, the Switch is getting a bunch of the really great ones ported over, and it’s a great fit for a system that you can take anywhere.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is a perfect example of a game that plays just fine on other systems, but really shows off the potential of the Switch. This is one of those few games that, while still fun playing solo, morphs into an entirely grander experience when played with friends. The game supports up to 4 players simultaneously and I’d argue that’s the best way to play it.
But, what exactly is the game about? Well, in a galaxy far away, the inhabitants have found that spreading love near and far is what binds civilizations together. Everyone is living in harmony until one day a vortex opens up, shattering the heart-shaped space station in half. It’s up to you (and your friends of course), to ride around in a spherical space ship and shoot down the bad guys that have infiltrated the universe. Along the way you’ll need to rescue some space bunnies to unlock new passages and find new power-ups to aid you in your quest.
Much like Affordable Space Adventures on the Wii U, this game isn’t so much about being a great space shooter. Instead it focuses on exploration and communication between the players. There are various terminals inside the ship that each person can run around and use. There are four different guns, each with their own control panels, as well as a shield station, a mapping computer, a special super weapon, and of course a navigation control panel. There is double the amount of spots than players if you’re playing with a full roster of four. So, what that means is that as you navigate the worlds you’ll have to run from one to another as different crises emerge.
Getting to the other control panels isn’t too difficult, as each floor is connected via a series of ladders. Although, you’d think with all of their advanced technology you could at least have an elevator installed, or even a teleporter! But, where would the fun be in that? So, one of you may take the helm and control where the ship moves, but the other three will need to man the weapons, shields, and other essential functions. It will require some coordination, and in fact while I was playing this with my friends I instantly thought of Overcooked: Special Edition. They both play very similarly with people barking orders at one another and absolute chaos erupting as things inevitably go wrong.
That’s not to say that you can’t pay this by your lonesome, because you totally can. It’s how I began my journey, but even if it’s just you playing you won’t truly be alone. That’s because you’ll have an AI dog or cat companion to help you out! You can direct your pet to any of the consoles (except the navigation) so they can shield you from lasers or shoot down incoming enemies. While this mode totally works and the AI is surprisingly competent, it pales in comparison to playing with a full team of four. Although, in a pinch you can totally get by with only two people, but it seems a lot more chaotic and challenging when you’re understaffed.
Graphically the game is very pretty with a cool art style. Most things are outlined with neon lines, creating very eye-catching visuals. It’s not on the scope of a $60 game or anything, but I found the game’s simplistic look to really add to the atmosphere of being alone in space exploring new areas. The bright colors never make it seem too dreary. The music is also great with some really catchy tunes. There isn’t any voice acting here, which is to be expected. However, the “animalese” talk that’s so prevalent in Nintendo games is used and it works well with the cast of characters.
If you’re yearning for another couch co-op game to play with your friends and family, then Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is a perfect choice. It’s not overly complex so even novice gamers will be able to pick up a controller and contribute. The game ramps up in difficulty at a very nice pace and letting players freely move about the ship and control various features is genius – no one will ever get bored. The game can be played with a single Joy-Con controller, meaning you can play two players without having to buy any extra accessories. Of course, if you have another set you can play the game as it’s meant to be played: four player co-op. My Switch is steadily filling up with amazing co-op titles and has become an instant party system wherever I go. Don’t pass this one up!