If there’s one thing that makes a nightmarish situation more tolerable, it’s sharing the misery with others. Example: Chief Brody ended up having a great old time with Hooper and Quint in Jaws, to the extent that they almost forgot about the killer shark. Y’know, until it came back and ate Quint. Lovely.
Lucky Frame’s The Nightmare Cooperative subscribes to that notion, too, tasking you with controlling a band of adventurers as they face certain dungeon-based death.
The Nightmare Cooperative is a roguelike puzzler type thing, which means it’s brutally difficult and – harsher still – enforces “permadeath”; when you die, you lose all progress and have to start from the beginning.
There are two goals in The Nightmare Cooperative. The first is to safely (yeah, right) navigate four sets of four levels, though when it comes to high scores, you’re more concerned with collecting gold than making progress. It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.
Each of The Nightmare Cooperative’s 9 x 9 levels (that’s 81 squares, for the mathematically challenged) is randomly generated and populated with – in addition to the adventurers – monsters, traps, hearts, potions and treasure chests.
Opening a treasure chest obviously nets gold, but it also adds a monster to the mix. Get up close and personal with a monster and you’ll both lose one unit of health, so charging headlong into battle is unlikely to yield much success.
That’s where the special powers come in. See, each of the adventurers has a unique ability that can be unleashed with the swig of a potion. The big guy can send monsters flying with a punch; the archer can – you guessed it – shoot arrows from a distance; the ninja can teleport; one guy can walk through walls; another guy is, like, a wizard or something.
The twist in The Nightmare Cooperative is that the game is turn based, and you move all of your dudes at the same time. So every time you swipe up, all of your adventures will move up - and the monsters will take a turn, too. Thinking ahead is the name of the game, and mindlessly swiping will only get you dead.
And that’s The Nightmare Cooperative in a 350-word nutshell. Any good? Hell yes.
I admittedly struggled with The Nightmare Cooperative at first, despite having played through the tutorial a couple of times, but there was something enjoyably depressing about failing to leave the first level after half a dozen attempts.
Fast-forward several hours and I like to think I’m somewhat of veteran, deftly dancing my way through dungeons, and meticulously planning each move.
The Nightmare Cooperative boasts a healthy selection of playable characters and enemies, and the brutality of having to start over each time is offset by the random level generation.
Of course, the whole “roguelike” thing isn’t for everyone. The Nightmare Cooperative is – in keeping with the genre – completely unforgiving, and you’ll encounter the phenomenon wherein you think: ‘Ok, this time, this time I’m going all the way,’ only to die in the first room.
Depending on your point of view, that’ll either sound incredibly interesting, or about as appealing as taking a cheese grater to your manhood. Here, one man’s Pro is another man’s Con, but me, I loved it.
- Lots of characters – good and bad
- Deceptively deep mechanics
- Randomly generated levels keep things fresh
- So very hard
- Takes a few goes to really ‘get’ what’s going on
Summary: Love “roguelike” games like FTL? Chances are you’ll love The Nightmare Cooperative. As the genre has conditioned us to expect, it’s brutally hard, utterly unforgiving, and – against all logic – fiendishly moreish.
Developer: Lucky Frame
Price: £2.49 @ App Store
Compatibility: Requires iOS 4.3 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimised for iPhone 5.