Do you like your games hard? Like…REALLY hard? Oh good, because have I got a doozy for you: Cosmophony for the Wii U releases this week, and it’s the kind of game that’s going to require a lot of dedication from you.
Normally I like to finish a game before I script the review for many reasons, among them being “so I know what the later game holds in store”. I fear, my loyal reader, that I’m going to have to forego this courtesy for Cosmophony for one simple reason: if I did, this review wouldn’t get to you till next Christmas, and that’s not a good enough wait. To be fair, I’m approximately halfway through, and it’s been a hard-won battle so far, but the game doesn’t change much from the beginning to the end.
Cosmophony is a rhythm shooter avoid-the-obstacles game, and it’s a port from the mobile version of the game. The story goes that the universe has kinda ended, and the Goddess feels that this is not a fitting way for things to go. So she tells her heart to reboot the universe, with the aid of some drum n’ bass music and a long tube filled with obstacles. You play the part of her heart which, bizarrely, has a gun of sorts on the front. I don’t pretend to understand the reasoning, but we’ll go with it. To whit, you guide the heart down a series of tubes to its end. There are targets to shoot now and again, but they pose no more threat than just another obstacle. Most of the challenge comes from the fact that the game is FAST, and quite literally requires hair-trigger reflexes. The drum n’ bass music track is an integral part of the game, and it’s there to help you through the stage by giving you aural cues and memories of what’s to come. Fail the stage, and back to the beginning you go, boyo.
Despite there being only five levels, it’s going to take a while to complete all five, trust me. I’ve been at this game for about a week and I’m still struggling. I’m going to blame it on my age and I’m sticking with that story. Still, there’s some recourse: each level also has a practice session built into it, allowing you to learn the courses, memorize the music, and build twitch muscle memory. Fail the real run too many times, and you’ll be sent straight back to the practise course again, too. The practice course allows you to jump forward and backward in each level, allowing you to perfect difficult parts of the stage by playing it over and over again. Thankfully, the practice stages also feature none of the distractingly trippy background animation that the real run of the level contains. And when I say it’s distracting and trippy, I’m not even joking here. You obviously can’t pay too much attention to it while zipping between barriers, but you’ll get glimpses of it when you die. And you’ll be doing plenty of THAT.
Naturally, DnB isn’t everyone’s favourite kind of music, so if that kind of music makes you want to eat your eyeballs, you’re probably better off staying away. It’s not bad DnB, but to get a taste, you should probably watch the trailer, or listen to the music from the artist, DJ Salaryman (link to his Soundcloud page).
About the worst thing I can say for this game is that it’s almost completely inaccessible to the rhythmically challenged, the chronically impatient, and the hand-eye coordinationally challenged. I cannot impress upon you just how hard the game actually is, and the only key to getting through it is to practise a lot and get the rhythm and twitch memory right. Normally, this kind of thing sounds too much like “work” to me, but in this case, it’s the same kind of fun that you’d get by practising the harder songs in Guitar Hero, and I’ve done plenty of THAT. How else do you complete “Through the Fire and the Flames” on Expert? Play by ear? Hell no.
Cosmophony is still a great game especially at the price point, despite the simple-looking visuals, and adds to an amazing indie lineup on the Nintendo Wii U console. And it’s perfectly at home there: after all, the term “Nintendo Hard” wasn’t coined with that name in it for nothing, you know. This is no casual game: it’s one that’s truly for the gamers.
Final Score: 8 out of 10
Developer: Bento Studio
Platform: Nintendo Wii U
Age Rating: 3+
RRP: R48 (eShop)