The visuals in Hopeless: The Dark Cave immediately drew me in. In fact, with such polished graphics, I thought that this was a paid game, but I was even more surprised when I learned it was free. The game premise is simple enough, but when you see the cute yellow blobs huddled together in the darkness, you can’t help but feel a little bad for them. Fortunately, they’re armed, so they can fend for themselves — kind of. The demon monsters that come in from the surrounding darkness are also stunning in their own grotesque kind of way. Hopeless also features an eerie soundtrack that is best heard through a good pair of headphones, and the sound of gunfire is quite startling and realistic at the same time.
I appreciated the fact that the game does not have a long and windy tutorial — once you start the game up, you are immediately thrown into the fray. There is only one little image that shows you what you have to do, which is shoot the demons. Of course, you start out thinking that you’re by yourself, but eventually you’ll discover that you have friends in the darkness as well, who are just coming to you for safety in numbers. Since the darkness gives you no way to discern what’s coming, the game is ultimately about quick reactions to friend or foe.
Controls in the game are incredibly easy. As you are in the darkness, your blob will be armed with a gun. To shoot, just tap on your target as they approach you from the blackness. As you start to acquire numbers, the monsters will come in faster. You will earn bonus points for successfully going on “killing sprees,” where you keep killing enemies and not friends. Every killed demon will earn you 100 points, while getting another blob to join you will get you 300 points, but you can only have up to six of them at a time. If the demons end up reaching you, they will snatch one of your blobs away, and if you run out of them, the game ends. Additionally, if you end up shooting too many friends, you will end up killing yourself out of fear.
Hopeless only features one game mode, but you can go through multiple waves before meeting your demise. As you move on to the next wave, you can have more blobs on your team, but the number of enemies will also be increased over time as well, so be careful. You may think you’re doing good for a while, and then bam — you’ll become overwhelmed in an instant.
As I said, the game is a pretty simple and straightforward concept. Since Hopeless is free, it does have in-app purchases for “emergency” blobs that you can use to increase your numbers immediately. However, I found this to be completely unnecessary and the game is still quite enjoyable without spending a dime.
You will also earn upgrades for your blobs when you reach enough points. These upgrades include things like being able to see farther in the dark, a powerful new gun, and even having light. However, you’ll need to get pretty good at the game to unlock the last few things.
I’ve been enjoying Hopeless: The Dark Cave so far, even though the gameplay can feel a bit repetitive the more you play it. However, it’s still fun, and a good test of your reflexes and the ability to differentiate friend from foe right away.
If you’re looking for a casual little game to play this weekend, I recommend checking out Hopeless: The Dark Cave. You can get it in the App Store as a universal download for free.