Scottish developers, Lucky Frame, have recently stopped creating games, and that’s kind of a shame, because their swan song, The Nightmare Cooperative is really something special.
In the game, which has been called a strategic roguelike, you explore small, randomly generated dungeons with a party of up to four characters. What’s tricky about it is that you don’t get to move them separately, but instead each of your keystrokes moves all of them at once. This poses a problem as soon as acid pits and all kinds of monsters bar your way. Your heroes are notoriously squishy, which makes careful dungeon navigation a necessity. The goal is to reach each level’s exit with your final score being equal to the amount of gold you collect, but there’s a catch: each opened treasure chest makes more monsters appear. Luckily, health and talent pickups aren’t that rare, but the game will still have you facing difficult situations and decisions in no time.
All of this makes The Nightmare Cooperative play more like a puzzle game than a proper roguelike. It feels a lot like the amazing Desktop Dungeons, but without the number crunching and more randomness involved. Sadly, there are no persistent elements; nothing that remains after your band of heroes unceremoniously bit the dust. To be fair, that is my biggest gripe with the roguelike genre in general, but each time I encounter it in a game, I wish that I had something to show of my past endeavors, not just a high score.
The minimal art style and soundscape deserve to be mentioned, since they are very distinct and make the game stand out from the crowded roguelike genre. You could say that the game is all about this minimalism. It’s not just its outward appearance, it’s also the straightforward gameplay, which is almost reduced to the bare essentials. You move, you press the space bar, nothing more. It’s a rather refreshing approach, actually. The Nightmare Cooperative is definitely worth your time. It’s easy to grasp and super-tough to master, and most runs are on the short side. I honestly doubt that I’ll play a lot of this in the long run, but it’s good enough to be infatuated with it for a little while. I’m very glad that I discovered this game.