Lethal Company’s co-op horror comedy is like Phasmophobia, but immediately more chaotic and deadly

“Let’s split up, cover more ground,” says one boiler-suit clad spaceman to another.

“Yeah, that always works out in Scooby Doo.”

They turn off in opposite directions at the dark concrete intersection. From the left, voice raised to be audible over the hissing steam pipes, the Scooby-savvy one speaks. “Got some metal scrap. You?”

“Nothing. No, wait, I’ve found—”

Something beeps.


A bright flash. A plume of flame. Chunks of meat launched down the hall. Silence for a moment.

“Landmines, then,” the survivor notes, before dutifully picking up their exploded teammate’s possessions without missing a beat.

Lethal Company—recently released into Early Access and already clocking in among Steam’s 10 most played games—understands that horror and comedy are very closely related. Both bank on building tension and anticipation, followed by an unexpected release of energy. Whether it’s a sudden scream-inducing scare or rib-straining laughter depends entirely on whether you’re the punchline or not.

Vaguely similar to Phasmophobia but more immediately chaotic and deadly, Lethal Company is a first-person co-op horror game where up to four players (ideally a group of friends, but playable with a matchmade crew) are expendable interns sent in to scavenge anything left of value after some horrible space disaster swept through a series of lunar facilities now populated by wobbly, low-poly monsters that would look funny if they weren’t so good at pouncing at the exact best/worst moment.

You’ve three days (each day an 11-minute real-time scramble) to scavenge everything you can from inside dark, infested industrial facilities, return to the company HQ, sell what you’ve found and pray that it’s enough to hit your quota so you can buy more gear and do it again, but harder. You start with barely enough to buy flashlights for your team. A total team wipe will lose you everything you’ve hoarded on board. It would be incredibly stressful if it wasn’t so damn funny.

(Image credit: Zeekerss)

Lethal Company’s lone developer, Zeekerss, clearly understands comic/horrific timing. His previous game, The Upturned, was singleplayer but imbued its setpieces and monsters with fantastic comic timing. Tension is built and released with clockwork precision, whether it be with jumps or jokes; often both simultaneously. Lethal Company, despite being a game of procedurally generated mazes populated by AI-driven horrors lurking in the shadows, somehow captures that same energy almost perfectly.

A player will hop across a deadly chasm ahead of the team, turn around and celebrate with a jaunty little dance just before being snatched away silently by something vaguely humanoid with glowing white eyes as the rest of the squad watches on helplessly.

“I think there might be spiders here,” one player says across the always-on proximity voice chat, pointing towards some cobwebs. Exactly one second later, an arachnid the size of a small car drops from the ceiling on top of them.

“Look, this time it’ll be different,” says another player, confidently, as they hop out of the ship, their voice trailing off with distance. They are immediately obliterated by a random lightning strike, their corpse ragdolling into the stratosphere. This is the second time they’ve been killed by lightning in 10 minutes. The rest of the crew are doubled over laughing.

Four crewmates return from a scavenging run. Somehow, they’ve found nothing but clown horns. On the way back to the ship they are confronted by a towering alien giant, rising out of the misty treeline. It turns to face them. They all reflexively honk at it in perfect unison before performing an about-face so precise it feels like a rehearsed military drill, then run off screaming.

(Image credit: Zeekerss)

This is a lo-fi game. Even without the heavy resolution downscaling and bitcrushing happening (and no, you can’t turn either off), this would be a simple, almost minimalist-looking game, cheaply made by one person. I do not believe it is advanced enough to listen into its players and prank them time and time again with intentional timing. It just somehow does it with such regularity that just mentioning a disaster scenario feels like speaking it into existence.

Dying would be frustrating if the game ever made you feel like winning was a possibility, but the odds in Lethal Company begin so stacked against the players that it feels like a huge relief just to survive to sell a second round of garbage. Every player I’ve encountered seems to accept their spectacular demise as a matter of ‘when’, not ‘if’. With the inevitable expected, it frees up a lot of mental energy to just live in those moments between disasters and scramble between near-death experiences as best you can, and the inherent humor prevents players from becoming numbed or tired by unrelenting horror and tension, as other games can.

With enough time, experience and coordination, a crew can become experienced. You can accrue enough money for better equipment and ship upgrades. Walkie-talkies allow the team to split up, but only speak if they’ve got a free hand to hold the device (assuming they remembered to charge its batteries), but many heavy bits of salvage require both to carry.

The better you do, the more runs you survive, the higher the tension becomes. You’ve got so much further to fall, and the game likes to save its weirdest creatures and hazards for these more confident, enduring crews. So long as even one player manages to take off in the ship, the hoarded loot is preserved, making players scramble to play the role of Final Girl even at the expense of their crewmates, leading to even more hilarious misadventure.

(Image credit: Zeekerss)

As crews learn to communicate, one player can opt to stay behind on the ship, using its scanners to track the team and any unidentified movement near them and coordinate via radio. They just can’t always tell if someone on the screen is running from a monster, or already dead and being dragged off to its lair. Did they get devoured mid-sentence, or just pick up something heavy? The game feels precision engineered to create these cinematic moments of suspense, with only the dead players lurking silently in spectator mode knowing the full truth, unable to speak until the round ends.

Zeekerss has announced plans to keep expanding and refining Lethal Company for around six months before it leaves Early Access with the stated aim of making it ‘infinitely replayable’. I cannot wait to see what new horrors, features and potential disaster scenarios are in development, and while I’d love to see more environmental variety (especially in terms of building interiors), I reckon Lethal Company is easily worth 10 ten bucks already, especially if you can provide three friends with microphones to join you.

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