At a look, Cocoon looks as if a easy recreation: a bug-like creature makes use of a colourful orb to activate platforms whereas traversing a different dystopian panorama. However as developer Geometric Interactive repeatedly introduces new wrinkles onto that idea, like various kinds of coloured orbs and giving these orbs talents, what at one level appeared fairly cut-and-dry ultimately evolves into among the best puzzle video games of the 12 months.
With none tutorial or instruction, Cocoon plops gamers into the winged physique of its silent protagonist. It reveals the primary orange orb and begins slowly educating the participant a number of mechanics. Mainly, the sport introduces the concept these orbs can energy completely different machines when positioned in particular docks and that the protagonist can enter these orbs to go to utterly new environments. The whole lot that gamers be taught whereas progressing by Cocoon’s 5-hour marketing campaign builds on what got here earlier than, and turns into more and more advanced over time.
A component that many puzzle followers will admire is how Cocoon by no means holds its gamers’ palms. If the viewers is prepared to belief that the required info is in entrance of them, and prepared to experiment with the mechanics, the sport turns into a mind-bending Russian Nesting Doll that by no means turns into stale. There are clear guidelines to each mechanic, be it the world leaping or the talents of every orb, however these may not be obvious to the participant at first. It’s as much as them to find what is feasible with the instruments accessible. For puzzle followers, the sense of accomplishment of realizing that their proposed answer is, actually, THE answer is second to none.
It’s not price spoiling the surprises that come when the mechanics evolve, however the principle factor to know is that Cocoon by no means locks right into a puzzle-solving routine. The introduction of a inexperienced orb introduces a means so as to add verticality to puzzles after which slowly the orange orb begins to develop into an element. The expertise embraces what’s new and leverages that for a time earlier than it then says, “Now what if the brand new and the previous labored in live performance with one another?” Gamers shall be leaping into and out of the inexperienced orb and orange orb’s world, having enjoyable utilizing every’s capacity to unravel puzzles inside. Then a 3rd orb enters the equation and the head-scratching actually begins.
Cocoon additionally options a number of boss fights which might be extra action-oriented however nonetheless constructed across the mechanics of every orb. They’re a real spotlight of an expertise that’s already full of wonderful “aha” moments, and are well constructed to problem the participant with out demanding an excessive amount of of them. Exterior a number of puzzles which might be timed, the sport provides gamers sufficient time to hypothesize, check, after which advance.
There’s a basic objective of progress to Cocoon, however the story is considerably nebulous. Taking within the attractive surroundings, experiencing that jaw-dropping world transition, and fixing the subsequent puzzle are the true thrust of the expertise, however there are hints as to the lore of this world that make it compelling by itself. It’s the sense of discovery and the narrative gamers craft of their minds that can fill within the blanks.
Geometric Interactive, which incorporates the lead designer behind Limbo and Inside, has made a extremely fairly recreation that’s evocative and numerous, and feels wholly its personal factor. Its colourful and oftentimes oppressive design recommend a world that was at one level peaceable however has develop into corrupted over time. The developer provides every orb world its personal character and leverages these personalities to make a recreation with distinct “ranges” however that also feels cohesive. It’s clear that simply because the puzzles have had numerous care put into them to ensure gamers perceive the foundations and get to a objective pretty rapidly, the world has an intricate goal to it that makes flowing from one part to the subsequent a lot enjoyable.
Whereas the puzzles will make gamers suppose, additionally they include a good bit of experimentation if the answer is not instantly clear. Because of this, gamers would possibly discover themselves doing numerous backtracking or carrying an orb from one place to a different, which might get tedious. The sport is wise about placing sufficient of the required info in entrance of the participant however when issues aren’t apparent it’s potential to waste time wanting within the mistaken place for an answer.
Exterior of that, although, Cocoon is an distinctive puzzle recreation that stands proper alongside among the greats within the style. It has unbelievable artwork design and presentation, is so cleverly designed, and has a tempo that makes it arduous to place down as soon as issues get going. The surface-level view of the sport is unassuming however digging into the worlds of Cocoon reveals an expertise that’s unforgettable.
Designed by Jeppe Carlsen who labored on Playdead’s Limbo and Inside, Cocoon is a puzzle-adventure recreation with a world-visiting central mechanic. By unlocking and utilizing orbs, gamers will steadily make their means by a sequence of artistic levels full of brainteasers and monsters.
Cocoon releases September 29, 2023 for Nintendo Change, PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Sequence X/S.