Before we begin, I’d like to address my hyperbolic title. You see, I’m actually pretty convinced that Cosmophony is proof that the Devil is real, and that he wants us to play rhythm games. That’s not to say that it’s a bad game, per se, but that it’s fiendishly difficult and unforgiving. Teasing you in with a quick, easy tutorial and checkpoint-based Practice mode, it lulls you into a false sense of security before unleashing the unholy wrath of DJ Salaryman, the drum and bass artist who supplies the good, if frantic, soundtrack to your descent into creating new swear words.
I’m a seasoned rhythm-game veteran. From early Harmonix titles such as FreQuency and on into more-recent outings like the Rock Band series, I’ve been a fan for a good while. Cosmophony doesn’t necessarily bring anything new or entirely innovative to the table, but the brutal challenge and deceptively simple gameplay stand out. Functionally, it’s quite reminiscent of Harmonix’s PlayStation 2 titles; you’re represented by a ship-like avatar that moves ever forward along a series of tracks that you can move between freely. Unlike those, though, your main objective isn’t to hit anything — quite to the contrary, it’s all about dodging.
Cosmophony combines a few different genres, really. It’s not quite a rhythm game, because there’s not really any interaction with the music. The closest you get is that the triangular “enemies” are often spaced out so that they can be defeated in time with some musical element. I was usually compelled to try and keep the beat, but sometimes it just didn’t work out. Since the bigger concern is weaving in and out of the torrent of obstacles, taking out these foes is a secondary concern. The only consequence for failing to get them is that you won’t achieve a perfect score without destroying all of them — miss one, and you may as well miss the rest.
What Cosmophony lacks in originality or design, it makes up for in difficulty. While each level is broken into “zones”, with each marked by a checkpoint, you can only restart from these points while playing in Practice mode. In Normal mode, it’s all or nothing; one slip up, and you’re back at the beginning again. The real benefit to Practice mode is that you can go back and forth between any checkpoint you’ve hit; this gives you a great opportunity to work on the trickier parts of the level you’re attempting.
I’m really not sure if I should recommend Cosmophony. While I had some fun, I also had moments of sharp frustration; the fact that the checkpoints taunt you along the path of each level on Normal mode irks me. Of course, progressing to the next level requires success in Normal mode. That said, for a small $3.99 price on the Nintendo eShop for Wii U (as I played it), or a nominal $2.99 for Android or iOS, it could be worth taking a chance on if you’re really into DnB or rhythm games. While the difficulty is a hurdle that many may not get past, there’s still some pretty good work here.