I’ve found myself recently starting new games like an elderly gentleman in his late eighties, who can’t remember where his trousers are and why coffee is not food. The game experience in Cobalt is no different; where I confusedly find myself suddenly jumping in the air, punching, cracking safes and listening to space music all within the first ten minute of playing. I’m all for not holding your hands when starting a game and following a trail path etc… but please just a little push is all I ask of you. This though is Cobalt and it’s all about packing as many different punches as possible, with a heady mix of platforming, shooting, puzzles, slo-mo and gadgets. Catch up grandad.
You play the role of a small robot who likes dancing, spinning, rolling and jumping. You’ve been summoned to save the humans from mental, gone-bad robots and some weird aliens. That’s all I could gather from the plot, but it’s all meant to be fun and tongue in cheek. The dialogue is quite amusing and sharp, and adds a nice dimension to this madcap experience of a game.
The gameplay itself is fast and furious. You leap across the screen, dodging enemies, firing guns while throwing grenades or stealthily hiding in shadows. The game has a 2D retro look to it as you move through the levels on your journey. When fighting you can choose to deal damage with your fists, or fire a gun, or throw a grenade or reflect bullets from your shield onto your foes, plus many more combinations. The main device to use when playing the game though is to keep moving and to keep fighting. When you are being attacked you can dodge the oncoming projectiles by going into a low-fi Max Payne style slo-mo sequence. There are also some quite easy platform gameplay moments that combine operating lifts and avoiding security cameras. There are clever mini games in place with you needing to action the unlocking of doors and consoles.
You’ll die a lot, not in the Dark Soul’s banging your head against a wall dying, but you will have to repeat things a few times. That’s not necessarily a negative thing as when you do work out how to play a level it can be very satisfying indeed. The enemies can at times be rock hard and kill you with one shot, but persistence and knowing your capabilities will make the game easier. The main criticism I have from Cobalt though is that at times there seems to be too much going on. It’s like the designers sat down and listed every cool thing from games they liked and threw it all in to the mix at once. At times it is incoherent and that distanced me from the overall experience. Sometimes the deaths you experience feel far too random and chaotic to avoid when the very next time you go to that level you complete it randomly without knowing the trick. Saying that, there is a lot of fun to be had and lots of loot, weaponry and secrets to discover.
Cobalt is not a stunning game to look at and the level design at times can get a bit generic and familiar. But for me, the visual style is comforting like an old jumper, especially with the character designs themselves which are fun, sharp and cool. The soundtrack is really nice, with some great tracks and a notable score to accompany your madcap actions. The effects work well and really help the game match its fast style.
The story mode found in Cobalt is solid and the more you travel through it, the more you will get out of it. It’s another game experience that sometimes puts gamers off in the first half an hour, but I INSIST you keep going. There are some nice things to look forward to like mind controlling robots and riding pets before then throwing them towards your enemies as weapons. It’s got quite a chunk of story as well; one that will last you a while with its seven levels and hidden secrets. But in this package there are some more features for your buck.
There are a bunch of online modes that normally you would find in the latest Call of Duty entry. There’s deathmatch mode which is quite fun against your human counterparts, a sort of capture the flag mode, survival mode against waves and a number of challenges to master. A word of warning though – the number of people playing online when I’ve tried to play are very few and far between and it took me ages to find a game.
Cobalt is a very good game, but you have to give it a chance and don’t get frightened by the chaos in the beginning. It has a fondness for 90’s games like Metroid Prime and should be applauded by the amount of things it tries and delivers. It won’t be a game for everyone, and the price tag is a little high, but I urge you, if you want a challenge and you like your games hard and fast, then this is the game for you.