Game Reviews

The puzzle sport Cocoon is impossibly good

Atop my again, the world gently jostles. An orange orb accommodates inside it an entire planet. I’m an insect, probably natural in nature, or mechanical, or each. I’m no Atlas, and but this feat of unattainable power just isn’t past me. I place the orb on a pedestal and kneel earlier than it, launching into the air earlier than diving headfirst into this different world. Orange orb turns into orange world, and inside it, there are extra mysteries.

Cocoon is the debut sport from Geometric Interactive, based by former Playdead workers Jakob Schmid and Jeppe Carlsen. Carlsen was the lead gameplay designer for Limbo and Inside, and his affect is prevalent right here, albeit with about 100% extra colour and 85% much less horror. (There may be nonetheless the occasional undulating biomass.) Just like Limbo and Inside, Cocoon is a brief however memorable expertise, a single-button puzzler with evocative visuals that begins quietly and ends on a spectacular crescendo.

It’s troublesome to say with precision what Cocoon is about. Metamorphosis, maybe, but in addition stasis. Order and dysfunction. The cosmos and the biosphere. The top, the start, and their interrelation. Fully wordless, Cocoon’s narrative is evocative however elusive. All the things is gesture and implication. What’s parasite and what’s symbiote is left so that you can resolve. It’s the uncommon sport that leaves this a lot room for interpretation, a deliberate ambiguity that enhances Cocoon’s satisfying however linear puzzles.

The small protagonist of Cocoon travels down a giant hive-like being

Picture: Geometric Interactive/Annapurna Interactive through Polygon

The sport begins with a start. A streak of sunshine strikes a mountain, touring down and right into a metallic cocoon at its base, which shudders and opens, revealing the participant character: a bipedal insectoid most carefully resembling a beetle.

You start to wander. Preliminary puzzles are easy — simply switches or pulleys. Rapidly, although, you discover a unusual equipment on the bottom: a metallic grate with off-white tendrils poking by way of its vents. You kneel on it, and abruptly you might be launched up and out of the world, right into a darkish room with an orange orb. Then, one thing sinister awakens and dives into the orange orb. You carry the orb out and away, into a brand new world the place you utilize it to resolve swap puzzles.

The sport can initially really feel simplistic. Early challenges contain inserting the orb on receptacles to open doorways or energy bridges. Hardly novel stuff. Defeating the primary boss unlocks a brand new skill for the orb — the power to disclose invisible orange platforms — however even that, audiovisually pleasing although it’s, is generally only a means by which to disclose extra pathways to orb receptacles that open doorways or energy bridges.

However simplicity, in Cocoon, is short-lived.

The titular Cocoon in Cocoon, before it opens up to reveal the insect-like protagonist

Picture: Geometric Interactive/Annapurna Interactive through Polygon

It isn’t till Cocoon introduces a second orb to the equation that the sport’s complexity comes into focus. Out of the blue, it isn’t nearly bouncing between two worlds, however three. And now, it isn’t nearly transferring between them, however layering them. You’ll be able to place the inexperienced orb contained in the orange orb by leaving the inexperienced orb contained in the orange world, then popping again to the overworld, the place you’ll be able to decide up the orange orb once more, now with a inexperienced orb floating inside it. Complicated? Strap in. I received’t spoil what number of orbs you’re anticipated to juggle by the sport’s finish, every with their very own particular skill, however by Cocoon’s conclusion, my preliminary hesitations had all however vanished within the face of the sport’s inventiveness and pitch-perfect pacing. Devious however honest, Cocoon doesn’t lack for problem or the power to astound.

Cocoon’s sound design deserves ample reward alongside its visuals and gameplay. A beautiful synth soundtrack accompanies your journey, often threaded with a dampened piano glissando that by no means fails to encourage dread. The sport performs a specific melody if you’ve solved a puzzle, however cleverly, it begins to play simply as you’re approaching the answer, creating this pleasing interval the place you are feeling not solely good however certain of your self — which is sweet, since you’re going to wish that surety to see the sport by way of to its conclusion.

The insect-like protagonist of Cocoon pauses before a bridge in a desert environment

Picture: Geometric Interactive/Annapurna Interactive through Polygon

Cocoon just isn’t lengthy, however it’s dense. My preliminary playthrough clocked in round 4 hours, and I added one other two hours to my playtime by searching for out the remaining Moon Ancestors, non-compulsory puzzles which are hidden all through the sport. I wouldn’t need it to be longer, nonetheless. Cocoon is a superbly edited sport, narrowed right down to its most important parts, offered with out filler. It’s the form of sport you’ll want you would expertise once more for the primary time, delighting on the complexity its builders had been in a position to wring out of a sport managed with a single button.

A late-game puzzle entails the creation of an impossibility. One thing that appears to interrupt the sport’s guidelines, and but doesn’t, below the ever-thickening logic of Cocoon. It was at that second that I knew Cocoon was a whole sport — one which sees by way of each permutation of its conceit. Thorough, I believe, is the very best phrase to explain it.

Geometric Interactive has created an impossibility with Cocoon. It’s a joyful, inconceivable expertise that can go away you reworked.

Cocoon might be launched on Sept. 29 on Nintendo Change, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Home windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Sequence X. The sport was reviewed on PC utilizing a pre-release obtain code offered by Annapurna Interactive. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These don’t affect editorial content material, although Vox Media might earn commissions for merchandise bought through affiliate hyperlinks. You’ll find extra details about Polygon’s ethics coverage right here.

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