Platforms: Win, Mac, Linux
My affinity for the weird has struck again. Also, apparently, for growing things. Cosmochoria is a not-quite-rogue-like shooter where you get to grow plants and revive dead planets with their love juice. I’m not kidding. It actually says that in the game description.
You start with a space helmet, a jet pack, a single seed, and the clothes on your back. Wait, you’re naked, so forget that last part. When you spawn on a planet, the first thing you do is plant a flag which will give the planet a random name. Then, you need to plant seeds, tend them, and defend yourself as they grow. A fully grown plant will have more seeds for you to collect. Once you’ve restored the planet to life, you’re rewarded with a chest, some of your health is restored by the planet, and you’re instructed to go forth and do the same to other planets.
As you travel, you may run into other people or devices that will reward you with tiny snippets of story, but don’t expect to get far right off the bat. I spent my first hour or so healing up a couple of planets, and then dying to the blue dragon. The blue dragon sucks when you’re just starting out, and he always shows up after you’ve healed up a couple of planets. However, between games, you are given the opportunity to spend the crystals you’ve been collecting from dead enemies to get upgrades. You may even get clothing eventually, I couldn’t say.
Every play through gives you a randomly generated universe, and once you have a few upgrades under your .. eh … jet pack straps, you’ll likely manage to kill the blue dragon. He’ll drop a stone, which appears to open up alternate worlds to explore. There are also random objects you’ll find, and random people who want them, eggs that may or may not hatch if you can just figure out what to do with them, and cryptic achievements.
Normally, I think all the weird stuff, the stuff that doesn’t seem to have a purpose or explanation would turn me off. However, in Cosmochoria, it makes sense that nothing really makes sense. The most basic mechanics are well explained, and feel natural after a very short period of time. The rest can be a puzzle.
That said, I really wish this game had a demo available, even if it only let you heal up one or two planets. Because it’s damn weird, and you’re going to die to things you don’t understand, and some people will want to call it quits pretty early on because it makes no sense. Personally, I’m fascinated, having put in almost four hours in short sessions over the last few days. I picked it up on sale for $2.49, but I absolutely could see myself getting my money’s worth at full price.