Combining simplistic puzzle gameplay with stylised visuals, The Nightmare Cooperative originally started life as a PC roguelike before making the jump to iOS and Android platforms. For those unfamiliar with the term, roguelike defines a specific niche of games which mainly include features such as randomly-generated levels, turn-based gameplay, and of course, permadeath.
The Nightmare Cooperative is no different, tasking players with exploring a network of increasingly difficult dungeons. Though is a sense of progression to be found in collecting gold and equipment, once your party has been wiped out, you will be forced to start the adventure from scratch.
Although it sounds brutal, the actual gameplay is easy enough to adhere to. Each of the game’s levels are square in shape and populated by a variety of different tiles. Some will be vacant whereas others house obstructions such as walls, acid pits, spike traps, and even enemies. Moving from tile to tile is as simple as swiping up down, left, or right. It must be noted however that each swipe will move all of your party members and not just one. To make things just a little more complicated, hostile characters will also move in tandem.
Your objective will remain the same throughout: getting as many allied characters to the exit. Naturally, some of your companions will fall victim to Nightmare’s dungeons though others can be found as you swipe your way from stage to stage. To help players survive, each one of these characters also has a skill such as ranged attacks and healing abilities. These use mana, however, which can be found in vials alongside hearts (hit points).
For the first ten minutes or so, The Nightmare Cooperative is genuinely great fun. However, after a few runs this sense of enjoyment may start to diminish. Levels designs will occasionally repeat and, even if they don’t, the process of marching your platoon to the other side of the screen gets repetitive, as will the limited number of tactics you start to employ.
One of these is a defensive sardine formation in which you essentially cram your heroes into a tight unit. After holing them up in a safe location, you can wait until enemy patrols have passed before gingerly stepping out and trying to approach the exit. Of course, it’s not a bulletproof strategy. After all, when one of your characters moves so too do the others, meaning that one swipe can land you in a stick situation.
It may be a great game to look at yet The Nightmare Cooperative simply doesn’t have the lifespan to boot. Although roguelikes are meant to be played over and over, this approach doesn’t really benefit the game’s puzzle mechanics. If there’s one thing more annoying that repetitive gameplay, it’s having to start afresh every time you come a cropper.
For £2.49 you can certainly do a lot worse, but it would have been nice to see The Nightmare Cooperative offer more beyond its single game mode and sparse selection of enemies and environments.