Cocoon is an isometric puzzle game developed by Geometric Interactive. When it comes to puzzle games, you know what you are going to get into. However, when I sat down to finally play Cocoon after hearing a lot of praise from people who have played it. I was immediately impressed, not only by its quiet, eerie, and somehow cozy presentation. But how the puzzles gripped me through their interactivity in the game world. As well as how addicting and thought-provoking they were. Cocoon has a level of magic to its overall design. From its world to the puzzles and bosses that took a hold of me and refused to let go until the experience was over.
A Complex Puzzling Journey
Cocoon is a game that is more about the overall gameplay experience and environmental storytelling than a cohesive narrative. But the environments and sequence of events from start to finish have strong themes of growth through selflessness. It is a game that is very purposefully ambiguous with a lot to interpret. However, a lot of subtle details may have gone over my head like the destroyed machinery, as well as some NPCs you can free. But outside of that, the game focuses solely on the experience through its gameplay.
Cocoon prides itself on no handholding as its mechanics are solely taught bit by bit through level traversal. For instance, one of the late levels of the game involves firing a laser. The way the laser is used in areas beyond where it’s picked up is combined with many other mechanics. Overall this felt very organic as you learn what is capable of. Every mechanic of the game serves a singular purpose. But they are creatively used in each scenario. Every level introduced new scenarios I was excited to engage in, and when I figured out how to solve them, I felt so much satisfaction from its sheer brilliance.
But it is not all exploration across many different worlds you collect and use to solve complex puzzles. There is also a myriad of bosses to take down that use interesting and challenging mechanics.
The Many Bosses of Cocoon
Cocoon has a good amount of bosses that use mechanics that are not in normal gameplay. For example, one of the earlier bosses requires mastery of a teleportation mechanic where you are carrying an orb across a circular platform that teleports you to the space opposite to you. The fight started simple and it felt easy. But using the teleport started to require more timing and always moving around even in limited space.
On the other hand, one of the later bosses is a spider that requires going to certain spots in the arena and fly away to break its legs one by one. None of these mechanics are ever used in any puzzle. Making each of these boss fights feel special, as you learn mechanics and take on epic foes.
Another detail I enjoyed immensely with these boss fights was the fact that if you are defeated, there is no game over screen. Instead, you are thrown out of the world you were in during the fight. My favorite boss was easily the spider because its design was scary and breaking off its legs felt so satisfying.
The bosses are a major highlight of the experience. They are fun, creative, and challenging while never being really frustrating. Just like the world shifting.
Hopping Between Worlds
The most unique mechanic of Cocoon is the ability to jump in and out of world orbs you collect throughout the journey. Each world orb has its own vast layout of different puzzles that require you to jump into them with a different color orb to solve.
For instance, the green world orb is a swamp-type environment. It will require you at first to jump out of it when certain puzzles have a robot that can halt your progress and jump back into the world when it is behind you. However, it does not stop there, as there are bridges that require holding the red orb to progress in the swamp world.
This is just a small sample of the many thought-provoking puzzles in the game. Such as using a lift with precise timing to have an orb you’re holding onto to get hit with a laser, and then while the laser is traveling between those worlds, you have to get to an exact spot to progress.
There are many different layers to the puzzle solving that makes the game so interesting in the later stages of the game. Such as moving an orb to control a pod that holds the world’s orbs. This segment was incredible when I figured out what to do.
So many puzzles in the game are phenomenal and while they were frustrating to figure out at first. They kept having me think more and more and became immensely satisfied when I solved these puzzles. Cocoon, from a pure gameplay standpoint, is on a level of creativity I have not seen in recent years.
Technical Performance, Graphics, and Audio Design
Cocoon was a seamless and pristine experience throughout. There were no bugs, glitches, or crashes with minimal loading into the game on Xbox Series X. The game’s overall art style feels soft, and eerie as you venture into other parts of the game. You can hear each part of the robot’s metallic body move around. Despite how small they were.
When world orbs are placed in certain spots they would create puddles as a gateway back into them. Similarly, music was used sparingly, and I noticed there was a form of fanfare when you figure out how to solve a puzzle while you progress. The way the game’s visuals and audio designs were brilliant like the overall gameplay and boss fights in between.
Final Thoughts on Cocoon
Cocoon is an experience unlike anything I have seen in recent years. The seamless world hopping, the fun and challenging boss fights and how the game lets you learn and put your brain to the test is fantastic. But I just wish there was some form of coherent narrative to bring it all together at the end. However, it is an experience I cannot recommend enough the more I think about it. You are doing yourself a disservice by not going through this truly special journey.
Note – The game was reviewed on the Xbox Series X.