Despite the deeply morbid implications behind that statement from Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime's description blurb, it perfectly belies the beauty of the game, an adorable neon micro-platformer about rescuing cuddly creatures from bad robots, shooting lasers at metallic jellyfish while flying through space, and dying alongside your partner after all of these ridiculous, futile trials.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime looks too cute to be depressing, but in the end, the gameplay is simply a mad rush to delay the inevitable. I played a co-op round with a new friend in GDC's IGF booth, and together we attempted to save planets of birds and rabbits from a hostile robot invasion, while fending off attacks on all sides of our circular spaceship.
The ship itself contains a mini platforming landscape, with myriad ladders and levels that the two lovers must navigate to operate the ship's weapons, its shield and the steering. With a controller, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime uses two buttons and one analog stick for all of its mechanics: One player jumps into the cockpit and steers the ship by sliding a single thruster around its outer rim, and the other player runs around, operating the shield and one of five weapons systems, whether that be lasers, turrets or superlasers.
As the ship roams around space, enemy ships attempt to take it out, and players cooperate to destroy these foes, maneuvering their love nest and manning the correct weapon for the maximum hits. The game's offensive system lies within its liberation mechanic: As the ship travels, speech bubbles with tiny birds or rabbit faces appear, directing the lovers to their planets, which are overrun with hostile robots. Clear the planet and the creatures send you their love, literally, sending you health and upgrades for the ship.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime is a deeply cooperative game, requiring constant communication between players, whether it be spoken, yelled or intuitive, borne from years of knowing the inner workings of one person's mind. It has a single-player mode, but even that involves two characters, with the human player giving orders to the computer sprite.
Asteroid Base as an incorporated studio exists solely because of Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime. Matt Hammill, Jamie Tucker and Adam Winkels created Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime during Global Game Jam in January 2012, and since then it's grown into a full-fledged game, due out for PC, Mac and Linux sometime this year.
When it launches on Steam it will support controllers, keyboard, or a combination of both. Two players can even get down on one keyboard, close-quarters style.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime was nominated for an IGF award in Visual Art, meaning it has a fast pass to launch on Steam. Microsoft and Sony have both reached out to Asteroid Base about potential console partnerships. "I think big companies are realizing that indies are a big part of the industry," Tucker said. It's about time – Spacetime.