Starting with a dead planet, a seed, a PewPewtm laser pistol, and a magic 8 ball to guide you through your quest. Cosmochoria is a game about bringing life back to a barren galaxy. From the get go, alien UFO’s spawn, raining down laser fire and dropping invaders to the surface for you to fight. All the while, you must nurture your plants as they grow and give you new seeds to expand further.
The art style for the game is minimalistic in design, using bright colours, rather than detailed sprites to show different parts of the world. Even your player character is an adorable, if albeit naked, traveller with only a helmet to protect you from the harsh conditions. The planets are grey and lifeless to start, but as you plant more seeds, they grow and invigorate the soil, shown by the bright patterns that develop.
Don’t let the graphics fool you though, because Cosmochoria is not an easy game. Enemies leave crystals behind when they are defeated, which can be collected and used to buy unlocks and usable items when starting a new game after you die. And you will die, a lot. Healing is accomplished after you have fully re-grown a planet, where upon the heart that has developed in the centre is drained to heal you. Larger planets take more planets to re-grow, but have a larger heart, so can heal you for more. After the planet has been drained, partially or fully, you can still plant for seeds in order to gain more heart(and thus more life), but this is limited to how many plants you can fit on the surface. Once full, you’ll have to move on in order to keep up your health.
The story is not very clear at the beginning, consisting of a single cut scene that lasts for about 3 seconds before you start. Enemies seem to have no reason to attack you, yet they keep coming like it’s some sort of intergalactic hunt, from UFO’s and alien invaders, to robot heads and flame spitting space worms. However, as you explore, more and more is explained, and with plenty of humour thrown into the game (it’s punny!), it all starts to come together.
Along with the story, you’ll find several different artifacts and enemies, as well as possible power-ups for defeated enemies. Warp portals can transport you great distances across the galaxy, but only after you’ve re-grown the planet. There are many different patterns and plant types, and with the random coloring, each planet feels unique by the point you have to move on. There are also a series of alien allies you can befriend thorough out your travels, who will assist you as you jet-pack around the galaxy.
Overall, Cosmochoria is a beautifully made game, that shows great promise for an early access game. The core mechanics are well polished, and while there’s not always the greatest variety just yet, that can (and I’m sure will) be developed over the coming months. As a debut game, it’s amazing how well thought out the mechanics are, and the graphics are delightfully cheery. You’ll easily find yourself playing for hours as you try to just scrape that little bit more towards your high score.
Cosmochoria was created by Nate Schmold, the sole developer behind 30/30 studio, based in Vancouver, Canada. More information on Cosmochoria can be found at cosmochoria.com, and @Cosmochoria on Twitter. Cosmochoria is available through steam early access, http://store.steampowered.com/app/293240/