If you want to put a decisive end to a relationship, there are quicker ways to do so than playing Spacelines from the Far Out, but there might not be many this amusing. Overcooked and Overcooked 2 come to mind, as well as the spaceship simulator roguelike Faster Than Light, which seems to have directly inspired Coffeenauts' new 1-4 player co-op romp. Still, Spacelines from the Far Out drove me and my partner to the edge of an actual argument with frightening efficiency.
Thankfully, we're both reasonable adults who understand that, at the end of the day, it's just a game and it's really not that important who wins. I will say though, if she hadn't chosen to distribute power to the stovetop while the passengers were only mildly hungry and our fuel tank was dangerously low, we probably wouldn't have run out of gas. And no, it wasn't my fault that we passed right by the first gas station because I was busy fixing the radar. Guess who gets the last word when you write for a living?
In all seriousness, Spacelines from the Far Out does chaotic co-op right, blending some of the best elements of games like Overcooked and Moving Out into the framework of a 60s-themed spaceship simulator. It's colorful, witty, well-polished for an indie release, and most importantly for games like this, nails that perfect balance between difficult enough and too difficult.
Dance the night away
The story is that you're in charge of running a cosmic transportation line, and your responsibilities include piloting a ship filled with needy passengers who you'll have to regularly feed and entertain. You'd think your foremost priority would be dodging the many asteroids hurling by your spaceship, but actually, the biggest threat to your safety is your guests, who become irate and downright destructive when hungry or bored - and it doesn't take long for them to reach that point!
During our first flight, my crew made the fatal mistake of assuming you could ignore the guests – who wanted us to feed them or dance in front of them like trained monkeys and not the dang pilots of the spacecraft - in order to attend to other more pressing tasks, like the dwindling fuel supply threatening to cut power and send us drifting off into the endless void. But no, if you don't treat them like royalty every 30 seconds or so, they are happy to doom you, your crewmates, and themselves to an oxygen-less galactic grave.
In the momentary times of calm onboard when your passengers are happy, healthy, and loved, you'll need to make sure you're headed toward your destination, use your radar to locate potentially devastating asteroids, make repairs if one makes impact, and gas up before your fuel tank is empty. Further complicating matters is an energy supply that doesn't have enough juice to power all of the ship's components at once, which will have you scrambling to move power from the navigator to the oven, from the oven to the command center, and so on depending on your priorities at any given moment.
When several problems require attention at once, the whole operation can go haywire in a matter of seconds, but it's crucial to cooperate calmly and collectively, as best as you can manage, otherwise things will only spiral out of control further. Fail your mission, and fail you will, and you go back to the beginning without any of the money you brought with you onto the aircraft (unless you had it insured, which is an option once you've made a good deal of cash).
Beyond the cathartic relief you and your team will feel after a successful run, there's in-game rewards for getting your passengers to their destinations safely and happily. The more passengers reach their destination, the more money you'll get, and you can use your earnings to buy new, more luxurious ships and upgrade existing vessels with new gear. Alternatively, you can use the cash at checkpoints to acquire new crewmates or simply stash it at the bank so you don't risk losing it during your next trip.
Though space trips are procedurally generated and thus, things like hazards, emergencies, and passenger events are different each time, there's only so much to see and do in this little universe. For a $15 game – that's also available on Game Pass, I should add – I'm more than happy with what's on offer here, but it's worth noting that until future updates expand the game, and I hope they do, you're looking at just a few hours of multiplayer madness before things start to get monotonous. Still, Spacelines from the Far Out is one of the most chaotic co-op games out there right now and a surefire way to get your friends all riled up in the best way.
Spacelines from the Far Out is out now on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Game Pass.