Star Date… does it matter?
Training in Moscow was cut abruptly short. Something happened. Someone finally pushed that damned red button, or maybe something from space wiped us out, determined to see the universe silent once more. Perhaps some god saw fit to end the human experiment. Thank goodness they had me in that new craft. In the ensuing explosion I was launched from Earth into the farthest, loneliest reaches of space. I would tell you how fast I was propelled but the readings would… you’d think me mad, that’s all. Not that it matters. And it doesn’t matter. There’s no one here to read this. It would also seem I can no longer debate the ethicality of the experimental drug regimen they had us on. As my craft and clothes disintegrated around me I steeled myself for the violent death of explosive decompression. Wincing for a few moments I realized death would not come so easy. Despite complete exposure I live on, if this can be called living. I am not cold. I am not hungry. I am numb.
Okay, so that’s how I explain why I’m playing as a naked cosmonaut floating in space. It was that or Captain Olimar from the Pikmin series is a nudist. Cosmochoria really doesn’t have a back story, at least not at the moment. Just know that you’re a naked man with a jetpack, some seeds, and a gun. And like all naked men with jetpacks, seeds, and guns, you’re on a mission. Elton John wasn’t kidding when he said it was lonely out in space. You’ll find yourself sitting on a desolate piece of space debris, gray and lifeless. Until you plant something, that is. Then life sprouts – a random bush, tree, or flower. And the planet develops a life bar. And because no one can have nice things, the moment you start cultivating life some alien jerks come to squash it. That’s what the gun is for.
Think of Cosmochoria as a kind of tower defense/rogue-lite deal. You’ll plant and plant, gathering fruit from your gardening successes while fighting off droves of UFOs and the biological horrors they drop onto your burgeoning planets. You’ll do most of the fighting, though you’ll be able to build some defensive pyramids that fire at foes. As you kill enemies you’ll be able to gather experience they drop and the occasional weapon power up. At a certain point you’ll grow so many plants on your planet that it will develop an atmosphere. Your weapons will fire more powerful shots at any incoming baddies and you’ll have the satisfaction of bringing life to a cold, dead place (not to mention the fact that it heals you). Then you’re off to the next space rock like an interstellar Johnny Appleseed.
That brings me to my favorite part of the game: exploring. You’ll turn on your little jetpack and break the surly bonds of the planet you just finished and choose a direction. As you propel yourself you’ll get one of two vignetting: blue or red. Blue means you’re approaching a planet. Red means you don’t have nearly enough sunscreen to protect your sensitive genitals from an angry, red sun and will die momentarily. It’s very rewarding, blasting off into the unknown, shooting wayward baddies while struggling to find a foothold, all the while nervously glancing at your fuel. Once you find a place to settle, get close enough and gravity will do the rest.
This is a beautiful, fun game. The rocks are all different sizes, giving you a fair bit of variety when it comes to planet building. As you form new planets you’ll fight increasingly difficult waves of enemies until an awesome, Chinese dragon sort of fella will burst from out of nowhere with an intimidating red health bar and an array of brutal attacks. Assuming you survive this, you’ll go on to other worlds until the next Chinese dragon finishes the job. Once you die – and you will – you’ll be able to spend your experience points on new weapons, abilities, and cosmetics.
This is a highly polished little Early Access title, one that feels expertly crafted. At the moment this game is worth your money. Knowing that it will get continued support and polish is just that much more incentive. So go, brave cosmonauts. Go brave the unknown. And know that if you stare long enough into the abyss, it won’t stare back. Because you’re buck naked. And boy does that vacuum feel good.