You know the scene. The starship is in unfamiliar space, on a collision course with a gigantic asteroid, and only the quick wits and frantic switch flipping of its crew can hope to save it from certain doom. Only this isn’t a movie — the scene I’m describing is the entirety of Sleeping Beast Games's Spaceteam — a multiplayer iOS game that turns your mobile device into the console of an interstellar cruiser. The directions that pop up onscreen need to be executed within a few seconds or your ship takes damage, but you have no way of knowing if the instructions are meant for you or someone else. The objective, then, is to bark coherent orders at your spaceteammates (Extend the optical cushion! Engage the brain vacuum!) while you try to keep tabs on your own section of the console. As this is happening, the controls are falling apart, or green goo has left them unreadable, or a wormhole is making everything crazy. The action is fast-paced and nerve-wracking, as you’re racing not just against the timer on your own screen, but the invisible ones on your spaceteammates’ devices.
Coordination and teamwork are crucial
The game mechanic is absurdly simple, consisting entirely of sliders, dials, and pushbuttons. But the real challenge is much thornier — figuring out how to efficiently communicate complex technical instructions while feverishly trying to figure out if you’re in charge of the tau flange (or the hydrogen paradox, or the Heisenberg Epsilontuner) or if that responsibility belongs to someone else. Coordination and teamwork are crucial to stop your ship from being destroyed. (Spoiler: your ship always gets destroyed.)
Spaceteam is free to play, with in-app purchases for things like Game Center achievements, harder difficulty, and new ships and outfits. You’ll need friends to play (there’s no single-player mode), but really, saving your starship from impending destruction is more responsibility than one person can handle.