Navigating through the outer reaches of space is hard. There are multiple systems to account for, from piloting to shields to weapons control, each with its own specialized training necessary. Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime takes all of those essential tasks and leaves them up to a two-person crew on a mission to save space bunnies and fight constellations.
The result is a frantic dash to man the right stations at the right times, and although it looked dire at one point, it was never completely unmanageable. After it was all over, I got to breathe a sigh of relief, and felt closer to my impromptu space lover after having been through the ordeal together.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime (Mac, PC)
Developer: Asteroid Base
The lovers' circular spaceship has eight stations to be manned: four normal weapons (one for each cardinal direction), shields, piloting, map, and finally a super weapon that takes time to charge. Each station requires only a single button and/or directional control, so it is easy to switch tasks without having to retrain muscle memory.
Each weapon defaults to a laser cannon with about a 180 degree range of motion. The shields and piloting allow full 360 degree rotation around the ship, where the shields block damage over a small arc and the rockets push the ship in the opposite direction. The map is generally used only outside combat in order to plan the ship's next moves. The super weapon is constantly rotating around the edge of the ship, and when it is charged up, pressing the button will launch a salvo of missiles that can get players out of tough spots.
In practice, players are only dividing six of the stations between the two players during combat, where the map is generally neglected and the super weapon is activated and vacated fairly quickly. Still, taking care of about three stations at once can be quite hectic, and the situation changes often enough that both players will trade who is taking care of what over the course of the game. While Lovers is built for two-player cooperative play, it is possible to play alone with a cute AI-controlled astronaut dog to help out.
What makes controlling the ship most unique is that the playable characters are physical entities on the ship, and switching stations requires the player to physically leave one, then run, jump, and climb to the other.
It requires a constant shift of attention, where the player is analyzing the large scale situation while at a station, then must focus on the inner workings of the ship itself in order to travel to another station. Once there, the player can take in the big picture again.
Each station can be upgraded with one of a few different types of gems, with different types of gems producing different effects. For instance, the weapons can be upgraded to feature more blasters, or completely converted into a powerful single-shot laser or a short-range ball and chain. Further, the piloting, shields, and super weapon can be upgraded similarly. By the end of our run, our ship had a huge metal shield, sported two flails, and it dropped mines out of the engines.
After rescuing enough rabbits, we we able to fly to a wormhole, which took us to a boss fight. Each boss is based on a constellation, so we found ourselves up against a space bear styled after Ursa Major. With our powered up ship, we were able to hold our own pretty well, but it had a few tricks up its sleeve, like teleportation, which kept us running about the ship in order to get a bead on it.
The structure for the remainder of the game will be similar to what was shown at PAX. Get to a new area, rescue bunnies, fight a constellation. There is room for exploration and perhaps some light puzzle solving, but at its core, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime seems to be built on the frenzied experience of having too many things to do and not enough people to do them. To be released "when it's done," it will be testing friendships in the hopefully near future.
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