My wife, Michelle, and I are huge fans of so-called couch co-op games where we can play together on the big screen. I’ve even been known to invite fellow GiN columnists over for some couch co-op play on a regular basis, so suffice to say, it’s something that I really enjoy and try to introduce to others as much as possible. For example, I got Michelle into Borderlands 2, and after she got used to the split screen gameplay that Borderlands offers, she was hooked.
So, I was really happy when I was asked to take a look at Fueled Up, which is available for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and the PC through Steam. On Steam, there is even a free demo version for players to try it out. For Michelle and I, the PlayStation 4 version was the one we decided to jump into. At our home, the PlayStation is right in front of the TV and our couch, so it’s perfect for a couch co-op title. As such, we eagerly popped up a large bowl of popcorn and settled in for a marathon gaming session. And with Fueled Up, it was a really entertaining time and quite an experience.
Before we started playing Fueled Up, we had been playing various Mario Party games, which are also co-op. If any of you have played Mario Party, you know that it’s a much slower and relaxed experience. Fueled Up is almost the opposite of Mario Party in terms of required energy levels because something is always going wrong on your ship, and you will need to frantically work together if you have any hope of keeping your spacecraft moving ahead in one piece.
The best way I can describe the experience of Fueled Up is like having a hundred jack-in-the-boxes popping open and screaming for your attention every minute. You and your crewmates will be constantly running back and forth trying to put out fires, clean out gears, or whatever other odd repairs are needed in that moment to fight off the space tentacles from an evil octopus.
The only other co-op game that I can think of that has a similar vibe to Fueled Up is Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. The premise of that title is that one person has a bomb and there are puzzles to disarm it, only the person with the bomb can’t see them, so it’s up to the other players to talk them through it. Every other player who is not holding the bomb has partial instructions on how disarm the device sent to their phones and then must try and walk the bomb-holder through the disarming process, which, of course, is on a timer. So, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes is great to play, but not in a relaxing way. Fueled Up might be even more demanding in that respect and certainly requires precise and accurate communications.
In fact, I thought I was pretty good at communicating until I played Fueled Up, but then I realized that I am not the best communicator when under intense pressure. While playing Fueled Up, I was talking so fast that my tongue got all tied up, and my wife said it sounded like I was speaking in cursive. My mind was racing faster than my mouth could talk, and Michelle had trouble following my many requests.
It was so action packed that every time we finished a round, I would need to take a breath and cool down. I also swore that I would be better at communicating the next time. Fast forward to five minutes into the next round, and I might as well have been blowing raspberries for as well as I was speaking once again.
While Fueled Up is extremely stressful and anxiety inducing, it was still an entertaining experience, and even more fun to sit back and laugh at how bad we did afterwards. As I get older, I’m starting to realize that I don’t like always having to compete. At the end of the game, I want to be able to chuckle and roast my wife for all her funny moments trying to save the ship and expect her to do the same for me. Fueled Up gave us lots and lots of those moments, and it really made me appreciate how far couch co-op games have come.
If you like playing action-packed titles with friends, then Fueled Up should be on your shopping list. The characters are adorable. For example, the developer Fireline Games just released a free cat pack for all players which turns their characters into space-going felines that are absolutely hilarious. And in addition to that, the music and special effects are worthy of a AAA game, and they’re not something you’d expect to find in a sub-$20 title.
Fueled Up might not be perfect, but it might still be perfect for an incredible couch co-op experience that will keep you on your toes the entire time you and your friends are frantically playing.