Lethal Company has been a surprise hit as we enter the final few months of the year. Seemingly popping up out of nowhere. It has taken the Steam charts by storm with 240k peak player count. With well over 100k positive reviews it’s arguably one of the biggest hits of the year. And it’s only £8.50!
In Lethal Company you work for an unknown mysterious Company that has you visiting abandoned moons to collect scrap and other items to sell and hit a quota. Don’t hit that quota and you get fired. Hit that quota and you get a new, higher quota. The #Grind never stops am I right? The thing is, it’s not as easy as just grabbing bits of scrap and taking them to your ship to sell. It never is. Lurking in all of these complexes and buildings are straight-up SCP-style nightmares. The threat of death lurks around almost every corner. Some locations are more dangerous than others. However, they will offer greater rewards should you survive.
VOIP reigns supreme
But there is one thing in particular that has led Lethal Company to gain such popularity and that’s VOIP. If you haven’t watched the game or played it, you might wonder how VOIP makes a game so good. But I cannot stress this enough. It elevates the game to be something so much better.
Think about how Crytek took the sound design to the next level in Hunt: Showdown with insane detail on basically every sound in the game. You could learn how far away shots are, and learn environmental sounds and more. Lethal Company’s VOIP is what the sound design is to Hunt.
VOIP or Voice of IP is just in-game chat. It’s directional and has a range to it meaning the further you are away from someone the quieter they are. And when you die in Lethal Company, you can no longer talk in-game. This means you can be happily talking with someone and then all of a sudden you hear their screams in the darkness and then nothing. You can be with a friend when suddenly a creature appears. You both turn to run, equally scared and shouting in fear. They’re just behind you with the beast in hot pursuit. Then their shouts disappear. You’re alone in the dark.
Or you could split up – always a bad decision, but we still do it. Splitting up might give you a better chance of finding more scrap in a shorter amount of time – after all, there is a limit to how long you can stay on a moon. The further you get away from others the quieter they will become. Eventually, they will be out of range of voice comms and you may never hear their voice again (until they respawn). Your entire crew could get killed and you could have no idea. Not until you return to your ship would you have any knowledge of anything going south.
Come in, over?
Naturally, there are ways to keep track of others. There are walkie-talkies you can buy. Meaning you can stay in contact. Furthermore, on your ship, you can track individuals’ movements via one of the screens. This shows a simple viewpoint of some dots moving around on the screen. It can also show you loot. But more importantly, it can show you enemies. If you have a walkie-talkie you can talk to those and guide them around. You may also bear witness to their demise as a red dot closes in on a blue dot. Then the blue dot stops moving and radio comms go silent.
I have witnessed people get carried off through the maze of tunnels on the monitors with friends cowering in the corner of the room they were all just happily in. Dots spinning in a circle panicking looking for any form of safety.
Lethal Company is easily one of the best surprises of 2023. Whilst there are similar games out there. I don’t think any come close to capturing the fun, the terror, and the pure comedy of hearing people panicking in VOIP. Or the bemusement of when someone goes silent. you know they’re probably dead, but no idea how. Should you be scared? Should you run? Or did they just fall into a hole?
This game is an instant classic.