There's a point when you realise The Nightmare Cooperative isn't taking roguelike turn-based dungeon crawling entirely seriously.
And that point is when your entire party is mercilessly and abruptly devoured by a giant goofy-looking snail and his werewolf cohort, dubbed 'puppydog'.
This kind of gentle humour is infused throughout, and it's probably just as well, as it enables you to cling to some vestige of sanity as the game mercilessly, relentlessly, and repeatedly tries to kill you.Copycats
The Nightmare Cooperative takes no prisoners. Its semi-randomised dungeons are peppered with vicious monsters, and your team is limited by curious gameplay mechanics that take the idea of cooperative thievery for gold a touch too far for comfort.
You'll notice something's a bit strange when you swipe to move and all of your party blunders off in the same direction, much like cards in a game of Threes!
This makes it tough to negotiate the twisty, winding corridors within the tiny single-screen dungeons, and forces you to think several moves ahead.
With plundered chests unleashing more foes and traps, even accidentally bumping one of the team into potential riches can be hazardous, especially when everyone's running low on lives.Dead again
During initial runs, you're going to die quickly and often. You'll stumble into dangerous enemies, drown in acid pools, and be fried by organic 'flame tower' gun emplacements.
For every death, you'll kick yourself, because most are totally avoidable. Eventually, you'll start reading the screen, tactically approaching monsters, noticing how a tower's evil eye telegraphs where it's going to fire next, and figuring out the manner in which various characters roam.
You'll also work out the various strengths of teammates, and how best to use their unique abilities. For example, when armed with collectable potions, the archer can take out enemies at a distance, the astral walker can spirit through walls, and the ninja can move through enemies.
Naturally the cooperative aspect exists here too - tap the potion button and every character uses theirs simultaneously, forcing you to think carefully about the precise moment to do so.
Occasionally, even an enemy can come to your aid. Patrolling guards might block a flame tower, and there's a creature later on that switches places with you (unless you get a bit too close, whereupon it gets a bit stabby).
Even death isn't always the end, because you can regularly pick up new teammates en route.Not actually nightmarish
When The Nightmare Cooperative clicks - which doesn't take all that long - it becomes intoxicating and stupidly addictive.
Although stripped-back compared to more expansive iOS roguelikes, the range of teammates, monsters, and powers results in a surprisingly rich and deep gaming experience that's extremely replayable.
The beautifully rendered visuals and sparse, atmospheric sound effects further add to the experience.
There's also a rush as you discover each of the four realms, especially when you reach the last of the 16 dungeons and realise you can complete the quest, albeit at the expense of several of your party.
The game's linearity means it won't have the longevity of classic iOS puzzlers like Threes! or endless roguelikes, but in the short-term there are monsters to slay, acid traps to stumble into, gold to pilfer, and highscores to battle for. And that's more than enough for now.