Review: Cosmophony

Break a move, and maybe your spirit.

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 11/11/2014 09:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
Bold aesthetics; Catchy soundtrack; Tight controls; Extra tough challenge
Poison Mushroom for...
Game can be excessively brutal, which will quickly frustrate unprepared or underskilled players; A touch too short

Don’t judge Cosmophony by its stark visuals; this is one tough shooter. Musical shooter, to be precise, one where the game’s soundtrack is an ever-present and integral part of the experience. The game’s EDM-inspired, drum and bass soundtrack created by DJ Salaryman acts to prompt the player’s movement and responses to different elements during gameplay. Whether dodging obstacles or shooting, the music overlays and influences it all. It’s on the shorter side with five stages to complete, but as will become abundantly clear while reading this review, those five stages will feel like a lifetime when all is said and done.

In brief, Cosmophony is tough. When I say tough, I mean flinging-the-GamePad-across-the-room tough. Before venturing any further in describing the game, I will say without hyperbole that those who aren’t fond of dying repeatedly in a game will probably not get much enjoyment from Cosmophony. For those willing to take on the challenge, though, it’s a game that doesn’t take cheap shots at players, but instead wants them to raise their skills to the next level to come out victorious– victory being the key to helping Cosmophony‘s fallen goddess fulfill her destiny. Players guide the goddess’s heart through twisting tunnels where a variety of hazards can deliver death in an instant. On-rails, the heart barrels forward at top speed, while the player uses either the control stick, shoulder buttons, or d-pad to quickly avoid the incoming variety of walls and blocks.

What differentiates Cosmophony from other on-rails shooters is that the best way to play the game is to time shots and movements to the rhythm of the music. Tapping left and right or firing to the beat makes it much easier to get through a stage unscathed. It’s not required to follow along to the music to win, but it’s a good idea, and makes the experience more enjoyable. Players can choose to tackle the stages in either Practice or Regular modes. The former allows players to burn through stages with checkpoints, making the repeated deaths more tolerable, but Regular mode offers no such respite. Die and the game will expect the player to start again from the beginning, no exceptions. This can become maddening when a stage is nearly completed, but again, for those wanting a challenge, it’s gaming gold. I never got through a stage in a single go, instead having to repeat them over and over in order to learn the layout and (eventually) complete a perfect run.

Die enough times in Regular and the game will offer to revert a stage to Practice. That is the extent of Cosmophony‘s mercy, and I have to say I enjoyed it greatly. The game’s minimalist visuals are a perfect compliment to the game’s surreal narrative and thumping soundtrack. Basking in the game’s silky frame rate, it was easy to become lost in that familiar cry of “one more time!” as I kept trying to win. I did think it was a slight misnomer to label Cosmophony as a shooter, though. The heart does fire off beams of energy, but it’s only to destroy stationary objects that don’t actively attack. Basically, don’t expect a Space Invaders-level of shooter action. In Cosmophony, the gun play is more of a pastiche of that particular tried and true mechanic. It’s a brutal, unforgiving trip through a psychedelic dreamscape, and for many gamers, it’s the type of hardcore experience that they’ve been waiting for on Wii U.

Cosmophony will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but those willing to brave its tunnels of torture will be greatly rewarded. The game demands skill to beat, but backs up its exacting nature by providing a bold aesthetic and soundtrack complimented with tight controls. It could be longer, but what Cosmophony brings to the table is polished. Its $3.99 price is the only break that Cosmophony is willing to cut players, but for budget-conscious gamers and those seeking a challenge, there’s little reason to not give this game a download.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.


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