Hopeless: The Dark Cave by Upopa is a tightly executed horror themed endless-shooter that lives and dies on a single premise: huddled in the middle of a dark cave, your armed glowing gumdrops must kill attacking monsters while sparing their incoming friends. If your numbers are reduced to zero by the swarming monsters, it's game over. Controls are simple, just tap to shoot. Of course it sounds easy, but Hopeless' monsters move at a frantic pace and their numbers are easily overwhelming, while at the same time you're also trying not to shoot your compatriots, whose numbers can help aid your timid group's cause. Because your blobs glow, the more of you there are, the further you can see into your pitch black surroundings, because they're armed, the more of you there are, the easier it is to manage the never-ending and ever-escalating waves of baddies.
That's the game in a nutshell, and while there's not a whole lot to it from a gameplay perspective, Upopa's cute and quirky artwork (think Despicable Me's minions by way of Tim Burton) bring Hopeless a good dose of charm, while little character touches to the game's protagonists make the gameplay more endearing and engaging that it otherwise might be. Your little blobs tremble with fear, become despondent when overwhelmed, and are depressed when they shoot a companion. Gamers need to manage their blobs' emotions because a depressed blob loses his glow and lowers its gun, limiting your range of vision and making dealing with the monster waves that much more difficult. Kill too many of your companions and your blob will off himself, an act that could easily end your run at a high score and that reinforces the game's twitchy gameplay. Making blob management even more difficult is Hopeless' limit on how many you can have (it starts at six). Hit that limit and the limit increases by +1, but it also awkwardly leaves you with one blob1, which depending on where you are in a monster wave could be very bad.
Hopeless is a free game and can easily be enjoyed without paying a dime. IAP, at least for the moment, is limited to purchasing “emergency blobs” which can be used when your numbers run low during gameplay. The game also offers a handful of rewards for certain high score benchmarks, but given the game's sole motivator is achieving higher and higher scores, you'd think there could easily be more rewards, and almost inconceivably, Hopeless doesn't support Game Center so there's no leaderboard positions to aspire to or compare scores with.
Hopeless is not a deep game by any means, nor original, but it is superbly executed by the artistic team at Upopa. It misses badly by not offering Game Center support, but otherwise there's a good deal of frenetic fun in this endearing little shooter. In the App Store for free, Hopeless: The Dark Cave is definitely worth a download.
Hopeless: The Dark Cave by Upopa is free and available for iPhone and iPad
The others strangely just disappear in a puff of smoke. ↩