Continuing our coverage of the Steam Next Fest 2023 we have Lethal Company, a cooperative sci-fi horror game.
In Lethal Company you and a group of friends work for an exploitative company that searches abandoned planets for scrap. Players have 5 days to reach a specific quota or the ship’s airlock will open, sending the entire squad into the vacuum of space.
Each planet houses a massive randomized bunker in which you’ll be able to find various things, with your main goal being to find items made out of metal, as they are the most valuable ones. The issue is that all of these bunkers are pitch-black, and house some insanely weird and dangerous creatures, as well as deadly traps.
The game’s planets also house highly-dangerous monsters roaming outside the bunkers, and their activity exponentially increases throughout the day. Your character in Lethal Company is at the very bottom of the world’s food chain, and will be killed in one hit by most creatures.
What follows is a fantastic cooperative adventure where you and three other crew members go out into space to explore, and immediately face a violent death at the hands of some incomprehensible being, unable to communicate with each other due to the game’s limited range of voice chat.
It’s interesting how effective Lethal Company is at being a horror game, especially due to the increased stakes of each run. There are no jumpscares or loud noises, as the game doesn’t even have a soundtrack, instead opting for complete silence coupled with sound effects.
A lot of the game’s monsters have mechanics centered around group play, like having your friends watch a weeping-angel-style mannequin while you secure your valuable items. Some of the monsters have absolutely ruthless behaviors, and your first encounter with them will definitely be a fatal one.
The game’s lack of information is one of its best aspects, as you never know what you just encountered, or if your friends are even still alive. It’s extremely easy to get lost from your group, as the game has barely any hud and communication is not always available.
Figuring out what each monster does or how to use the game’s items are the most interesting parts of Lethal Company, as acquiring knowledge becomes your layer of meta progression.
The game makes it pretty easy to just jump into a random match or host your own, and the community has been extremely nice so far. I don’t think I had a single bad experience playing the game, and everyone has been extremely helpful when it comes to sharing knowledge of game mechanics.
The developers have shown a fantastic understanding of horror, playing into how easy it is to get separated from your friends in a stressful situation. You and your friends are empowered as a group, but one wrong turn in the maze-like bunkers can leave you completely alone.
Something to note is that supposedly the final game will have twice the content that we have seen in the demo, meaning that the horrors players experienced so far are only half of the full picture. Lethal Company is full of potential, and the game’s demo showcased only a fraction of what the developers are capable of doing with this premise.
Lethal Company is set to release October 23, 2023, for Microsoft Windows (through Steam’s Early Access).