Review: Cobalt (Xbox One)

When Mojang announced that they in partnership with Oxeye would release a new Indie title named Cobalt, people were unsurprisingly excited. The creator of Minecraft, probably one of the best selling games of all time was publishing a game, and why wouldn’t it be a home run?

Story

Cobalt is a side scrolling adventure game which takes place many years after Earth’s demise. You, playing as Sergeant Cobalt receives a distress signal similar to that of the old distress call from Earth, set into action to find out what or whom is sending this message. The game progresses through a web of links you need to unlock to progress the story. Many of these links are just time trials to see if you can beat the developer’s time, speed running through specific maps. Other missions progress the ‘story’.

Story wise the game is quite generic in that is doesn’t really push the boundaries. The story is so generic that I was hard pressed to stay engaged with the game even after playing for 5 minutes. The story is conveyed in a muffled tone much like that of people talking in the next room, and could put you to sleep if it wasn’t for the chirpy music.

Traversing the maps were quite jarring to say the least. The game world is sets of interlinked blocks which when you run through one, you load into the next. The game doesn’t show your objectives in the game and expects you to just ‘know’ where and what to do, leaving much of the game unexplored to the casual player. I found myself roaming around for hours trying to figure out what they were expecting me to do in each world.

The ‘home base’ doesn’t really help either. It’s a maze of doors and levels. It not at all obvious to the average player what the game expects you to do, and relies on the player to experiment through trial and error.

Gameplay

Gameplay wise the game is solid enough to enjoy for a few minutes before you’re pushed to frustration. The controls are easy to understand, and the game is quite challenging in some cases, but more often than not you’re jumping up and down for a few minutes just to ‘climb’ up a shaft.

Besides the odd glitch with the character ignoring what you’re trying to do the gameplay is fun and engaging. It follows the simple mechanics of any side scrolling game out there and adds some awesome rolls and jumps during battle scenes. This comes in quite useful during the Multiplayer portion of the game where you have to out maneuvre your opponents.

A few frustrating things I have noticed in the game is that, throughout the game world you pick up ‘health’ potions, or that is what they look like, but cannot equip or use them. I have pressed every button imagineable to see if I could use a potion during my play time, but alas. It would be especially helpful if the game allowed an inventory tutorial during the first 3 minutes of the game. But like most of the strange omissions in this game, they relegate it to the ‘Tutorial’ section in the menu.

The game, besides Story and Multiplayer, offers an Arcade version of the Game which would be a better option for most gamers, as the Story mode and Multiplayer can induce frustration.

Multiplayer

Multiplayer in this game is quite challenging. If you’re looking for super fast paced action tied with skill and telescopic eyesight this is for you. Seriously the item pickups in the Multiplayer are so small I didn’t even know they were there until I saw other players get items that I did not have. And to top it off you have to stand over an item, push down on the left analog stick for what seems like ages before you equip the item.

By the time you get the gun, you’re dead.

The multiplayer is quite fun once you get a hold of it, and can keep pace with what and where every player is. It’s not as fun as iDarb, unfortunately. But like all indie Multiplayer games, this won’t receive as much attention games such as Rocket League received, because unlike Rocket League, this game just tries to make your brain hurt.

Overall

Indie games have a tough time to compete in todays market. With games such as Rocket League just dominating the indie scene, Velocity 2X setting the standard when it comes to side scrolling fast paced games, Cobalt seems to be at an odds with itself.

The game has potential, but with so many glaring issues that left me with a headache it’s hard to recommend this game over something like Assassins Creed Chronicles, iDarb or Velocity 2X. It tries to rest on the laurels from the creators of Minecraft and it only disappoints. The game isn’t being helpful in the least when you’re running around aimlessly throughout the world, and it awkwardly pushes RPG elements into the side scrolling genre like a square peg in a round hole. The game assumes you would be interested in listening to what random people in the world is saying, but more often than not it just wastes your time with small talk.

For achievement hunters the game offers up 1000 gamerscore, and most of them are unlockable though normal play. Acheivements are given for ‘killing enemies with physics’, and completing the story mode.

Perhaps Oxeye will fix some of the issues with future patches (maybe add objective markers in the world), but today the game is barely worth the price of admission. I’ll give it a pass.

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