When I saw that a preview of a game innocuously called Cocoon was available, I jumped at the opportunity to preview it. Not because I thought it may be a tie-in to the 1985 Ron Howard directed movie of the same name, but because it is being developed by Jeppe Carlsen. Carlsen is the lead gameplay designer for two well received games – Limbo and Insider.
The publisher, Annapurna Interactive, describes Cocoon as a puzzle, adventure, platformer and exploration game. From the opening screen, Cocoon reminds me of another iconic puzzle adventure, Journey. Journey, the 2015 PlayStation game, told its story with no narration or setup or gameplay mechanic explanations. Everything about Journey was a mystery waiting for you to explore.
Cocoon is very much the same.
The game opens with a beam of light descending from the sky. It goes through cliff-side obelisk, lighting up inscriptions in an unknown language before landing in a pear-shaped cocoon. The mysterious light beam causes the cocoon to undergo metamorphic changes from which the protagonist emerges.
Cocoon shares the same graphical aesthetics too. The world is full of desert hue pastel colors. The game character is non-human and looks like a space-suited moth. Or also like Mysterio from the Spider-Man comics. Ancient technology litters the world stages and you must manipulate it to travel through the world. Also very reminiscent of Journey.
The control system in the PC demo version is bare bones. You move using the direction arrows and interact with the environment with the space bar. Don’t let the simple controls fool you. Cocoon has a lot of nifty puzzle tricks. The demo does a great job of showcasing some of the various gameplay mechanics you can look forward to.
The initial stages involve manipulating levers and switches but done in an art style unique to the game. For example, one switch is a geodesic ball you need to lift and carry. Connected to the ball is an organic style rope you pull along a rail. It’s an old puzzle mechanic given a new look.
What Cocoon hints at what it will do very well which is constantly change up how you solve puzzles. Before the lever/switch mechanic becomes stale, a new mechanic starts where you have different colored orbs to use.
Initially, you start with a yellow orb that is used to power tech or open doors, etc. Then, with the orb, you must manipulate the environment, such as corridors that act as tubes, to get the orb from one area to another.
It doesn’t stop there, though.
Other Worlds Than These
Soon you’ll find the orbs can be combined or an orb can kick you from one world to another. The first time it happens is quite an unexpected kick. That’s not the end of it yet, though. Some puzzles require you to jump from one world to the next and then back to solve them.
You will also pick up a robot companion that acts like a guide. He will direct a beam of light at an interactive object when you get near to it. There are also boss battles to tackle. Each boss presented has unique attacks and you have to determine the strategy needed to beat them.
The score, which in the demo is an eerie futuristic electronic mix, dictates much of the mood of the game. All the elements of the game work together seamlessly to really establish that you are in an unknown world.
The amount of gameplay presented in the demo is quite impressive. If the rest of the game continues in the same manner, puzzle platform gamers are in for a treat.
Given the pedigree of the creative people involved, Cocoon should make a big impression when it launches this Sept 29th. Cocoon will be available on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Game Pass, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, and Steam.
Thank you for keeping it locked on COGconnected.