Cosmochoria Early Access Preview – Cute But Deadly
A good way to hide how challenging a game is, is to make it a cute adventure like in Cosmochoria. While its children’s book visuals and wavy arcade tunes may make it seem like a breeze, planting trees in the dead, dark void of space is more dangerous than at first appears.
Tons of dangers await the little naked astronaut flying around with a jetpack. Death is inevitable, but with random content and a ton of customization putting replay value at the core of the game, there’s always room for one more try.
In Cosmochoria, the goal is to recreate a planet’s atmosphere by planting seeds that grow out into curvy plants. Once grown, flora yields more seeds that can be used to repeat the process.
In the meantime, flying saucers will try to shoot down the astronaut’s effort, additionally sending ground troops on the circular, 2D planets to upset the planting process. Since adequately building anything requires a bit of immobility, it will be necessary to periodically switch from creation to destruction.
A blaster rifle can be shot freely in a 360 degree radius, which is similarly true for exploring any planet in a full circle. This gives quite a bit of freedom to run and hide behind some terrain, but swishing around can also be disorienting as a tradeoff.
Eventually, a planet will grow back its atmosphere and become even cuter and fluffier than before. As a reward, it’s possible to sap its big, juicy heart that gives back any health that alien attacks may have caused. Then, the adventure must be taken onwards.
Shooting off with a jetpack makes the astronaut hurl into space in a random direction. Since fuel is limited and friction is void in space, it’s wise to perform any boosts in limited fashion. It’s easy to get too much forward momentum and suddenly be cascaded into one of the suns of the universe. Certainly when fuel is depleted, this danger zone can quickly lead to death.
When another location is reached, the planting process starts anew and the challenge grows. More aliens land, some other structures like big-spawning hives may appear or different planet sizes can mean it’s needed to grow a lot more to restore the balance. A gradually increasing difficulty drives gameplay as time goes on.
As an additional layer of content, Cosmochoria offers a select few buildings that can be put down for defensive measures, at the cost of rare bricks. Things like towering pyramids can shoot at any incoming foes, which can yield some much needed breathing space here and there.
Naturally, some sort of reward is in order for restoring the galaxy, beyond the satisfaction of a deed well done. Upon killing enemies, currency will be dropped. This can be used in further gameplay sessions to upgrade equipment and abilities, like in Rogue Legacy. Since this is a hard game where death approaches fast, it’s likely that increasing health or fuel, getting better weapons and so on, will become a standard for those who want to see the overarching story come to an end.
In particular, the periodic boss fights can throw a huge difficulty spike in a playthrough. When three or so atmospheres are up and running again, space dragons will appear in the distance, shooting massive volleys of elemental projectiles.
Overcoming these huge creatures is a true test of skill, as the long snakes will advance relentlessly, pushing harder and harder, cracking health bars. It will take either some agile maneuvers or managing building elements well to beat bosses.
Cosmochoria already builds on its randomized content well by littering the galaxy full of helpful tidbits. It’s possible to acquire building stones or other upgrade capabilities to help fend off the nastiness of space. Additionally, some teleport stations make it easier, faster and safer to fly around to other locations, as using the jetpack is a bigger hazard and leaves astronauts exposed.
If there are a few points to work on right now, it would be making the building prompts a bit clearer than the esoteric one-word description they have now. Certainly given how rare it is to be able to produce structures, having to plop them down on the vain hope they’ll be helpful is a big leap right now.
Additionally, Cosmochoria currently lacks custom controls. This means that anyone outside of the current settings will have to make due with either partial controller support that slows down some of the reflexive touches needed or will simply need to wait until it’s implemented. It is easier to play on mouse and keyboard, thanks to an aiming reticule, but that’s only for the chosen few whose hands the game was designed for.
As an Early Access title, Cosmochoria already feels decked out for the majority of its design. A sharp, cute art style is the base for a deceptively challenging arcade title with some roguelike elements. Random content and play after play enhancement capabilities benefit the replay value model, while some tough bosses provide the satisfactory advancement elements. With some tweaks to information and custom controls, this is likely to be an adventure that will surprise quite a few people.