Strategy

Published on October 19th, 2014 | by Claire Donner

0

Nightmare Cooperative Review

Spread the love

Android-RPG-NightmareCooperative_00Scottish developers Lucky Frame are on a mission, as their website states, “to encourage creativity through technology”. Their latest effort, a puzzle-heavy roguelike called Nightmare Cooperative, fulfills this promise by pushing the player’s strategic faculties to the brink, while soothing away maze-induced insanity with its impressive artistry and wry wit. The premise is, rather than a heroic tale of derring-do, a hilariously dour political snarl grimly recalling the burdens of real-world citizenship. A medieval Village Council has emptied its coffers on monuments to its own members, so it calls on all its knights, archers, mages and other able-bodied residents to do a little “fundraising”. This means scouring the corners of a series of deadly mazes to gather as much gold as possible without being killed by pitchfork-wielding guards, poisonous critters, and other atrocities. Luckily, you won’t be alone; you’ll start out in as a pair of heroes, and then increase your party’s members as you find more warriors slumbering in the corridors.

Nightmare Cooperative
is what veteran gamers know as a “roguelike”, a type of RPG inspired by the classic 1980 dungeon crawler Rogue. These games typically involve turn-based play on a tile-based board filled with treasure, obstacles and enemies. Nightmare Cooperative offers four color-coded levels–Catacombs, Ice Caves, a Desert, and Tech World (a perplexingly earthy brown tunnel-like environment)–each of which contains four mazes. Your party must make its way from the far end of the maze, around walls, pools of deadly liquid, and gangs of monsters, to reach the stairs to the next maze. Along the way you’ll find treasure chests which contain the gold you seek, but they also release more acid baths, hooded goons, and (pleasingly Metroid-like) beasts. To make matters worse, each time you take a certain number of turns, a new enemy spawns somewhere on the board.

Android-RPG-NightmareCooperative-02

Nightmare Cooperative is what veteran gamers know as a “roguelike”, a type of RPG inspired by the classic 1980 dungeon crawler Rogue. These games typically involve turn-based play on a tile-based board filled with treasure, obstacles and enemies. Nightmare Cooperative offers four color-coded levels–Catacombs, Ice Caves, a Desert, and Tech World (a perplexingly earthy brown tunnel-like environment)–each of which contains four mazes. Your party must make its way from the far end of the maze, around walls, pools of deadly liquid, and gangs of monsters, to reach the stairs to the next maze. Along the way you’ll find treasure chests which contain the gold you seek, but they also release more acid baths, hooded goons, and (pleasingly Metroid-like) beasts. To make matters worse, each time you take a certain number of turns, a new enemy spawns somewhere on the board.

Although the roguelike genre is an old one, Lucky Frame has eschewed lazy design conventions meant to play on our nostalgia. Instead of affected 8-bit visuals and MIDI music, Nightmare Cooperative offers beautifully articulated characters resembling tiny construction paper collages, and a hypnotically immersive soundtrack. The music consists of spare, somber guitar and percussion sounds; one almost expects to hear an ambient accompaniment of crickets or rainfall. The sound effects for each game action are similarly subtle and melodic, blending into the score in the manner of improvisational jazz. Although the game is firmly two-dimensional and lacks any sort of complex animation, its lovely audiovisual components rescue it from being a hokey throwback to games of yesteryear.

Android-RPG-NightmareCooperative-03

Gameplay is as simple as you might expect from this vintage genre. Each turn moves all of your characters lockstep, one panel in whatever direction you swipe, and each enemy takes a simultaneous turn. Clearing these increasingly complex mazes while loosing the fewest party members requires a lot of brainpower. Can you trap one of your characters in a corner to keep him from plunging into a nearby spiked pit while another makes it to the stairs? Can you trick one of the dumber monsters into crossing a deadly lava puddle as he chases you down? Luckily, you’ll periodically get a leg up in the form of special items like armor to absorb extra damage, vampire fangs that leech an enemy’s health, and enchanted trinkets that increase your attack power.

What’s this about attack power, you ask? To attack, you can simply bump into an assailant to put him down, although this hurts you as well as it hurts him. Preferably though, you’ll be able to use each character’s special move, if you’ve picked up a little blue action potion. To the right of the maze is a list of each current party member, displaying their health levels and the number of potions they’ve accumulated. Each of these little blue potion beakers allows the character to perform their special trick one time, when they’re in the right position on the board. When a character is highlighted and switches to a battle stance, you can touch the large blue action potion icon on the lower right of your screen, and your Barbarian knocks encroaching creatures across the room, your Priest heals his nearest cohort, your Warrior shoots an energy beam across the maze to hit a diagonally-located enemy; any character with an action potion and an opportunity to use it will do so with a click of this button.

Android-RPG-NightmareCooperative-01

Unfortunately, herein lies one of Nightmare Cooperative’s few faults. The controls can be fickle, intermittently failing to respond, or suddenly hurting you across the board. This is a huge bummer when it results in a mass kill-off of your party as they knock into bad guys and traps–especially since you cannot save your progress. Once your last character has died, you have to start all over again from the beginning. Sure, every maze is different and therefore every play-through is unique, but still, it hurts to lose all those guys and gear. Similarly, you can tap on anything on your screen and a text box will appear, describing the properties of anything from your Ice Mage to the Yeti he’s about to battle. However, responsiveness here is spotty, and some text boxes will linger too long over an area you really need to see.

Resolving these technical hangups would certainly give Nightmare Cooperative a well-deserved shove from game very-goodness to game greatness. The difficulty level rests right on the border between fun and maddening, and its randomized mazes give it that element of surprise that makes a game dangerously addictive. In fact, the very worst thing about this game is the fact that it is nearly impossible to stop playing. For many of us, this is the kind of game that can interrupt important functions such as relationships, personal hygiene, and the ability to walk down the street without wandering into traffic. It is possible that without the dampening effects of the occasionally sticky controls and forced restarts, Nightmare Cooperative could make life into a real nightmare.

 

 



 

Is it Hardcore?
4.5

Definitely!

Nightmare Cooperative’s few technical flaws pale in comparison to its attractive design and endless playability.

Nightmare Cooperative Review Claire Donner

IS IT HARDCORE?

Summary: Nightmare Cooperative's few technical flaws pale in comparison to its attractive design and endless playability.

4.5/5

Definitely!


User Rating: 0 (0 votes)

Tags:


About the Author

Claire Donner is a blogger and comics professional residing in Brooklyn, New York. Her film criticism and illustrations appear regularly in various independent digital and analog publications, and she is passionate about old school action games that reflect her movie genre obsessions, like Contra, Metroid and House of the Dead. She looks forward to someone developing a serious Android update of Xenophobe.



0 Responses to Nightmare Cooperative Review

  1. Pingback: Best Android Strategy You Never Heard of | Android Strategy

Leave a Reply

Back to Top ↑