In Hopeless: The Dark Cave, an isometric survival shooter from Upopa, you play as an adorably terrified, gun-coddling, trigger-happy Blob. Somehow, you’ve managed to find yourself trapped in a dark cave that’s inhabited by nothing but big, scary monsters who dine exclusively on Blobs. It’s up to you to keep yourself, and your fellow blobs, alive for as long as possible against increasingly challenging waves of monsters. High scores will allow you to unlock new items, or you can purchase them (with real money) to help stave off the inevitable, but I never found myself wanting or needing the extra items in order to progress through the waves.
The simple, one-touch controls dictate where your blobs shoot, but it’s up to you to determine friend from foe. The stripped down mechanics help set Hopeless apart from other games as the barrier-free user experience drops you into a new game with a single tap, and the method for survival is immediately apparent.
The dark, atmospheric sounds drive home the eerie, “Oh crap, what was that?” feeling within the game’s static, desperate setting. With every cricket chirp, gust of wind, and squeaky metal door, I found my fingers twitching to shoot a monster that hadn’t yet appeared.
As the pace and number of the monsters increased, I found myself with less time to identify friend from foe and opting to shoot first and not tell anyone that I shot Bob later. Every time I blew one of my jiggly little friend’s heads off, I let out a dejected and audible, “Awww!”
The game runs smoothly on iOS, but I did encounter a few frame rate issues as more characters crowded the screen, which resulted in some of my blobs getting picked off as soon as a monster appeared on my screen, or my shots not registering. These instances were few and far between, but I actually felt like they added to the game’s desperate atmosphere and my feeling of being overwhelmed.
Hopeless: The Dark Cave is a fun, quirky, and very well executed game. The dark, yet approachable setting, and pick-up-and-play mentality make this a great addition to any mobile game library. Plus, it’s FREE on iOS and Android right now, so you really don’t have a good excuse not to play it.
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