Cosmophony Review

A taxing toe-tapping tempest

A.J. Maciejewski

Reviewed by playing a PlayStation 4 on

Cosmophony is Cross-Buy with PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita and also available for Wii U

ESRB Everyone rating

When it comes to difficult games, it doesn't get much harder than this heart-racing arcade survival indie. It may look simple enough, but before you know it you'll be begging for mercy as you take a break to play something a lot easier... like Bloodborne.

Cosmophony screenshot 1
Stage 1 seems easy enough...

Cosmophony begins with an odd bit of exposition about a girl being trapped in a prism. It's quirky, but let's face it; you're not playing this for the story. You control the girl's heart that looks like a ship composed of diamond outlines. To play, you simply tap left and right to move the heart between preset paths while avoiding all oncoming obstacles in the half-pipe Tempest-style stages. You can also shoot at triangles if you want to fully master each stage. Controls don't get much more simple and responsive than this. Learning how to play in the brief tutorial is incredibly easy but mastering each succeeding stage is going to be one heck of a challenge. Thankfully, all stages contain a practice mode complete with checkpoints which gives you plenty of opportunity to hone your skills and even memorize tricky segments if you so desire. Trust me; you'll need a lot of practice to complete this one.

Visually, everything is both crystal-clear and mind-blowing. The relentless obstacles flying towards you are easily discernible yet they emerge so quickly that you'd need to be a gaming ninja to navigate your way through the tough parts. The triangles are effortlessly spotted most of the time, but segments where onscreen objects become monochromatic shadows tend to make the triangles blend in with the obstacles. Each stage features a unified colour scheme complete with underlying psychedelic videos that appear as if they're ripped straight from a Chemical Brothers concert. These trippy backgrounds somehow remain unobtrusive although you also won't be able to fully enjoy them as you focus on the action. The music is composed of an awesome selection of drum 'n' bass tracks that always match the stage layouts with perfect timing. That doesn't necessarily make this a rhythm game, but having a sense of rhythm will surely help you tackle the stages. Sound effects are limited to triangles exploding but you don't really need more than that. All you need to do is concentrate, listen to the jumpin' choons, and give it all you've got!

Cosmophony screenshot 2
Whoa, stage 2 is pretty tough

The entirety of Cosmophony consists of a selection of five stages. Each stage has up to four earnable stars. One star is for completing it in practice mode and another is for mastering it without the use of checkpoints. The other two stars are obtained by shooting all of the triangles within each mode. As you complete the first stage, you'll feel pretty cocky as you casually stroll onto the second. Then, you'll be alarmed at how difficult it is all of a sudden. Once you get over that hump and attempt stage three, you'll probably give up after dozens of tries. In this stage, there are a few moments where the action speeds up for split seconds at a time, but the fact that the pacing changes as dramatically as it does will throw you for a loop. You'll also encounter triangles that take three hits to destroy, so consider this a heads up in advance. The fourth stage introduces train-like obstacle chains that move much faster than the walls that you're used to. When both occur simultaneously, you have no choice but to memorize where to move in order to avoid the insanity. Finally, the fifth stage contains everything already mentioned plus walls of obstacles that move at various speeds. It's next to impossible to beat. If you manage to complete it then please pick up your gaming black belt on the way out.

Where Cosmophony disappoints is in its incredibly limited amount of content. Besides the five stages, there are no extras at all. This includes unlockables, leaderboards, skins, and basically anything that you would expect a game like this to contain. Merely finishing the five stages will take most gamers a lifetime, but I could imagine if there were twenty or even ten stages with a more gradual difficulty curve then more players would feel like they've got their money's worth. In this case, even if they can't finish the game, then at least they could see more than just a few stages. In the end, a lack of content is ultimately Cosmophony's largest downside.

Cosmophony screenshot 3
Forget what I said earlier, stage 3 is ridiculous and it only gets crazier from there!

Cosmophony is a tough game to recommend. If you're up for one of the most immensely challenging video games that you've ever played, then by all means; enjoy! However, if the steep difficulty seems intimidating and the lack of content is too disappointing then you'd be better off skipping this Mount Everest of challenges.

  • + Fantastic drum 'n' bass soundtrack
  • + Simple gameplay with responsive controls
  • + A perfect game for those looking for an intense out of this world challenge
  • - Only consists of five stages
  • - Near-impossible difficulty will alienate even the most hardcore gamers
  • - No extra content in any form
5.4 out of 10
Gameplay video for Cosmophony 2:13

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