When I first saw the title of Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, it reminded me of an 80’s new wave pop band or a folk group who were all divorced. Luckily it is neither of these. But what is it? Well the good news is Canadian developers Asteroid Base have produced a 2D shooter that is unique, weird and fun.
The story is utter madness. The whole universe is loved up but suddenly that love is being destroyed by anti love creatures and it’s your role to go and restore the balance. I said weird didn’t I? It’s all very tongue in cheek and the premise is more adorable than annoying.
You are in control of a huge spaceship, which you can see a side slice of, and in this spaceship are four turrets on the north, south, east and west of it. There’s an engine room for movement and control, a map room, weapons room and shield room. There are ladders connecting all these areas, with which you and a friend can rush to each area whenever problems occur on either one of these sides of the ship.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is designed to be a two-player game. Not online two player (which is a shame) but one that shows off some local love. You can play it solo like I did, which is a lot of fun, but the real thrills and achievements are with two of you. The scurrying between areas is actually a pleasurable experience rather then a boring one and the AI of my little friend (a space dog – obviously!) worked well with him never seeming to ignore my instructions.
Your turrets, engines and lasers all get upgrades as the game continues with these being nifty and neat. Ranging from lasers to a big spiky wrecking ball, you can then combine certain upgrades together to make something really feisty. This is another truly inventive feature in the game.
You explore four worlds with around five levels in each. Each of these levels are randomly generated and this isn’t as annoying as it sounds. The objective of each level is for you to collect five prisoned space rabbits or space frogs (I got confused) and then that will open a gate to the next level. In these, you’re attacked by a wide collection of creatures and monsters who have different assaults and ways of moving. You have to be on the top of your game to withstand their attacks and very quick witted in trying to second-guess their movement patterns, quickly sending your friend to the correct turret in time. At the end of these worlds you face a big boss and these range from the easy to the OH MY GOD WHAT IS THIS!
The look and tone of the game reminded me a little of The Yellow Submarine film by The Beatles in the 60’s and also a little of classic 90’s Nintendo shooters. All of the levels are really beautiful and the graphical make up really works well with the game and the narrative. There is a charm and dare I say love in the creation of these worlds. Each creature, world and texture feels absolutely solid and true, with the stunning soundtrack using techno pop mixed with dreamy trip hop to create a living-breathing world that will always put a smile on your face.
The level design always feels fresh as well, as you grow used to the mechanics and feel of the gameplay. You find yourself in underwater caverns, wormholes and riding across solar winds. Sometimes you find the space bunnies/frogs through exploration and luck, whilst other times you’ll face up against wave attacks of creatures that by completing, will see you free the prisoners. There is a real sense of achievement to finishing a level in this game as sometimes by the end you are rushing to the finishing gate, hordes of creatures running after you, your shield on five percent and your dog AI friend, shooting for his supper. It really feels like a test. The difficulty level does however seem to ramp up quite extremely and you’ll find yourself having to really put in a shift to get out alive sometimes. But I think it’s the kind of game you want to keep going at because the rewards are so good and the levels come in at a decent length.
As I said beforehand there is no online mode, so when you finish the campaign the replay value isn’t there really, leaving you with only the chance to unlock new ships and new avatars to play with.
My time with Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime was a very happy one. The game is so original and so well made that it puts other games with big ships in – those that I won’t mention here – to shame. The atmosphere, design and sound are extremely beautiful and entertaining. The story is bonkers and by the end of it I still had no idea what was going on, but hey, I don’t think that matters. It’s the journey that’s matters and it’s a very pleasant one.
So this is a five star review right?
It’s close. Very close. However I think if the developers had included an online co-op mode, then it would be the perfect game. Playing with the AI partner is perfectly adequate and the mechanic really works, but you do spend most of your time driving the ship while you little dog fella does all the fun things like shooting. If you are playing two players you can swap this up a bit; you can shout at each other in excitement at the approaching hoards and can jump around together when you beat a hard boss.
But for the majority of the time, me on my lonely self, felt I was missing out on an experience that other gamers will cherish. So if you are playing this with another local friend, add another half a star to the review and feel the love together.