Arts & Entertainment Editor
Released on Oct. 23, 2023 for early access, the survival horror video game “Lethal Company” has amassed a huge player base for its simple but thrilling goal: collect materials on abandoned moons while surviving the monsters that inhabit them. Every three in-game days, players must bring their findings to “The Company,” a mysterious entity which enforces a strict quota of material goods onto its employees — and punishes any group who can’t meet it. While not extensive, players can find lore items around the world about the reality of their work and employer.
The real beauty of the game comes from its multiplayer design. While the game can be played alone, cooperative gameplay is encouraged: players can make use of the spaceship’s monitor system, purchasable walkie-talkies, and monster combat or avoidance with a group. In December 2023, “Lethal Company” won the “Better with Friends” Steam Award for this reason: the game is as good as the people you play it with.
Many fans have joked that “Lethal Company” isn’t a horror game but a comedy because of the unexpectedly hilarious situations that arise, such as watching your friends scream as they’re terrorized by a shadowy Bracken, a mannequin Coil-head, or another one of the many fear-inducing monsters, including the newly added Masked, which takes over one of the players’ bodies to hunt the others. The game’s proximity voice chat enhances these experiences as you either hear your friends’ voices from afar or slowly realize you’re the last person alive.
Although the game developer of “Lethal Company,” known by the alias Zeekerss, made clear from its release that he would continually update maps, monsters, and items for the game to keep it fresh — a promise he has fulfilled — the community has managed to add enough content through modifications (“mods”) to maintain high player interest.
In this way, the game offers a cooperative experience extra-diegetically. Since “Lethal Company” has a relatively simple gameplay loop, fans have made many mods that can add onto the original. For example, players can download mods with hazmat suit options, increasingly difficult game modes, additional emotes such as the griddy, and an option for larger groups, as the base game only allows up to four players.
“Lethal Company” has also taken over entertainment and social media applications like YouTube, Tiktok, and more with humorous clips of people getting stalked by monsters or running around to try — and fail — to escape. There are even mods that allow you to put in iconic characters, such as Gojo from Jujutsu Kaisen or Freddy Fazbear from Five Nights at Freddy’s, which has led to even more comedic content.
Even amongst a competitive year for video games with many releases receiving high praise, this independent game managed to stand out thanks to its dedicated community. A month after its release, the game reached 100,000 concurrent players and has maintained similar numbers since.
“Lethal Company” won’t be left behind in 2023. There are many expected updates and mods to come with the new year, so if you haven’t gotten the chance to play “Lethal Company” yet, whether you’re a veteran or novice gamer, gather your closest friends and dive into a low-commitment, highly exciting game that only stands to get better.