Nightmare Cooperative’s roguelike gameplay will keep you up all night


Screenshot: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac
Screenshot: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Roguelike games are a retro treat, hailing back to the earliest computers. They used various ASCII characters to denote dungeon walls and dangerous creatures in an attempt to recreate the experience of playing Dungeons & Dragons.

There are many good roguelikes out there these days on both Mac and iOS with varying amounts of verisimilitude regarding the original game. This type of game typically features a randomly-generated set of dungeon levels so that you never play the same level twice, the idea of perma-death, meaning that once your character dies, the game is over, and lots of treasure, loot, and monsters to contend with on a turn-by-turn basis.

Nightmare Cooperative, from Bad Hotel and Gentlemen! developer Lucky Frame, is a finely-polished rendition of the familiar formula with a few fun twists.

Check out the teaser video below to get a sense of how it looks and sounds.

You’ll begin each game with one dungeon-crawling character who needs to move, one space at a time, in the procedurally-created dungeon’s top floor. The conceit here is that your Village Council needs adventurers to go clear out nearby dungeons of monsters to bring back treasure. None of these adventurers (you, in your various character guises) ever come back.

You’ll swipe in the direction you want to move your little characters, and all the monsters on the screen will move, as well. Every move you make, they make one, too. There are potions to collect which activate your special abilities, allies to recruit, treasure chests to open that contain gold and monsters, and health potions that let you continue down into the dungeon. Bumping into a baddie sees you both losing a health point heart, so keep an eye on your character’s life chart. Lose all the hearts from all your recruits and you’ll have to restart the game from level one again with a fresh adventurer.

Screenshot: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac
Screenshot: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Lucky Frame has an extensive background in music, and the influence here is obvious. The soundtrack in the video above is created directly from the game sounds, which manage to be atmospherically gorgeous and creepy at the same time. The visuals are striking; each character and monster has a distinct, paper-cut-out-like vibe to it, fitting the various dungeon environments perfectly.

Nightmare Cooperative is a modern take on the roguelike genre that will engage your problem-solving skills along with your eyes and ears, making your time with the game engaging and super enjoyable. Every permadeath felt honorable and true, making me hit the Replay button time and again for just one more try. It’s perfect for retro gamers as well as puzzle addicts who want to try their hand at solving the mazes of each level.

You can grab a copy of Nightmare Cooperative on Steam or Humble for $9.99, too, if you want to play it on your Mac or PC. Otherwise, grab yourself