It’s very easy to be dazzled by the beauty of it all, whether you’re playing with friends or by yourself.
Co-op games can be a tricky beast. To work well, they need to be engaging for all involved, providing players of differing skill levels with fun, challenge, and intrigue. The Switch, thanks to its very core design, has been privy to a variety of co-op games. Some of those have been middling, while others have succeeded. Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, coming to Switch some time after its well-received 2015 debut, thankfully falls very much into the latter. This is an excellent local co-op multiplayer game that emphasizes cooperation but also empowers its players to have a blast blowing stuff up and making daring escapes in a bright, colorful world.
The Katamari-esque hook is that, somewhere out there in space, Anti-Love is infecting the world, ruining the peaceful and love-filled space happiness. Using the power of lovely friends, the players are tasked with working together to rescue these pals while also defeating the forces of anti-love. The world and its inhabitants are adorable and vibrant, combining with the bouncy soundtrack and audio design for an enjoyable setting. With up to four players, the arduous task is cooperating with everyone to navigate dangerous territory while shooting down enemies and freeing animals. This is done by your team of two to four bouncing between different stations, ranging from simple guns and cannons to shields and engines. In order to succeed, you have to cooperate. If you’re not talking, you’re likely not doing well.
All of your stations can be upgraded with gems you find across levels, powering them up to do more damage or take on different abilities. Through progression, stations can be upgraded twice and new ship layouts can be used to play to your strengths or add a new challenge. More wrinkles come into play as a variety of obstacles and terrain appear over the four different five-level campaigns. The first campaign is relatively straightforward, but the later ones add in water, fire, and icy planets that require deft maneuvering and quick thinking. The individual levels in each one also have variety, with some being more exploration-focused and others being centered more on combat. It’s a fantastic balance that helps extend the adventure to more than just a single playthrough. It’ll probably take you between three and five hours to wrap up all the content, but subsequent plays can differ thanks to changing layouts and potentially having a fresh set of multiplayer buddies. Even with the action being a little more frantic, this seems to be friendly to newcomers because of the simpler inputs and ability for more experienced players to take on more responsibility early on.
Of course if you can’t get a gang together to go save lovers in spacetime, the single-player option is available. I was skeptical at first, but the single-player works a lot better than I expected. The solo player is assisted by a space pet that can be tasked with controlling a station (except for driving). It requires a different strategy than during multiplayer play, but it’s still a fun way to romp through the levels. The AI is competent enough to be a nice ally, though I’d still much prefer having friends to play with. The single-player is definitely good enough on its own, thankfully.
Co-op multiplayer doesn’t get much more colorful and magnificent than Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime. It’s a marvelous shooter that brings forth the best elements of cooperative play, as the action gets frantic, the difficulty ramps up, and even failure can result in a hell of a good time. If you have a few people to play with, Lovers is a fine addition to your Switch library, but even if you’re all alone, you can pair up with a good computer-controlled puppy dog or cat and still have yourself a good time. This is an adorable, charming adventure - one that lovers of fine co-op game shouldn’t miss.