“Can you hear me?” It’s a peculiar start for Cosmophony, but then the predicament that players will find themselves thrown into is itself an unusual one. The universe has collapsed after a female goddess, entrusted by the Gods with its protection, has failed to maintain harmony. Now lying dead and imprisoned in a crystal, a new guardian must take her place – taking her heart to steer it through five fundamental waves in order to restore the universe and bestow the chance to determine a new destiny.
That plight is certainly dark, and a narrative that you wouldn’t normally expect to find accompanying a musical shooter. Cosmophony arrives on Wii U as the first end product of Moving Player’s Xport program, looking to help independent developers with adaptation and publishing in the console space, and a game that certainly deserved to see such transition.
It’s a genre that the console is certainly short on, and while simplicity prevails in player input the game will all too quickly pose a relentless challenge. Tunnel vision is abound, as you guide the heart of the goddess down cylindrical levels – blasting enemies and dodging increasingly scattered obstacles as you go. There are two modes for you to conquer – Practice which, as the name implies, allows you to steadily work through the eight zones that each level comprises to let you familiarise yourself, and Normal, where you must beat the level in entirety to unlock the next.
Here, a collision with an enemy or obstacle will send you right back to the start, and while this can feel particularly punishing – even if there’s eventual gratification when you blitz a level error-free. Stars are earned by completing each level on Practice and Normal, with another on each waiting to be secured if you zap every enemy that crosses your path. There are no complaints about the responsive controls, but even the in-game manual suggests that players: “Don’t give up, try again, hang on in there and enjoy the smug satisfaction of eventually unlocking the next level.”
Most will welcome that posed difficulty with open arms, but the unrelenting pace may dissuade those that don’t enjoy pushing their patience to the extremity. For challenge-seekers, it’s the perfect match, and you’ll warily keep a careful eye on the percentage displaying your stage completion before fist-pumping as you soar over the finish line.
Opting for style over substance, the minimalist visuals in Cosmophony won’t win awards even if their bold, coloured direction will leave a somewhat lasting impression. That honour will instead fall to the blistering drum and bass soundtrack, recorded by DJ Salaryman, that will linger in your memory for far longer. Your TV speakers will gleefully thump along to the on-screen action, the perfect accompaniment to spur your adrenaline as you fight to maintain concentration and, ultimately, for your survival.
You will die a lot in Cosmophony, but if that isn’t enough to deter you from taking a musical trip then you’ll discover a Nintendo eShop experience like no other. Sadly light on content, it will still take you plenty of hours to see your quest to save the universe through.