The Nightmare Cooperative

wise man once said "When I move you move, just like that." Lucky Frame have obviously taken this advice to heart with The Nightmare Cooperative, a dungeon crawler puzzle game featuring an ill-fated party of adventures  who have to move, fight and survive as one increasingly desperate unit.

Carefree public spending has left the adventurers' village dangerously close to fiscal ruin, and it appears that the only solution is to send volunteers deep into a monster-filled dungeon to gather the gold necessary to save both the town and the careers of the fiscally irresponsible village elders.

So off they trot. The party starts with two randomly selected members (archer, ninja, cleric, barbarian etc.) who all have different powers. The group can be further strengthened by finding other heroes who happen to be having a snooze inside.

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Once inside, the objective is simple: grab loot, kill monsters, avoid dying horribly and escape. What is not quite so straightforward is the movement. Each hero, bound to one another by fate (and quite possibly string) has to move at the same time, in the same direction. If the cleric wants to grab a potion, will the archer hit a monster or an acid patch?

Here's where The Nightmare Cooperative starts to test the old grey matter. Trying to navigate each stage to collect maximum gold while sustaining minimum damage is much harder than it first appears. Just avoiding lava or acid on the floor could be easy enough, but the varied amount of monsters really cranks the difficulty up. For example there are turrets that fire in straight lines, and rotate every turn, and other turrets that fire diagonally. Combine the two and the result is a kill-corridor that makes it nigh on impossible to escape without a scratch. Other monster types can switch places with an adventurer, freeze them in place or poison them.

To make matters worse a turn counter ticks away and spawns a fresh monster when it reaches zero. This timer gets progressively shorter as the party advances, meaning that later levels fill up with monsters much faster. Opening chests garners more treasure than just picking gold up off the floor, but doing so also releases more monsters into the level.

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Bearing in mind the injustices faced by the intrepid adventurers it's no surprise that they will die. Many, many times. That's no problem though, as a new group can quickly jump into another randomly generated dungeon and try again.

There are several unlockable characters that act as rewards for completing some of the game's harder challenges and as each party and dungeon is selected randomly each playthrough feels fresh and provides different challenges.

The game is great fun to play and the fact that it boots incredibly quickly means that is well suited to playing in quick bursts of ten to twenty minutes. That said, the beautiful art and challenging gameplay definitely lends itself to the addictive 'just one more go' feeling. I would definitely recommend picking it up!

You can buy the The Nightmare Cooperative on Steam, Humble or itch.io.

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ReviewTom Woolford