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COCOON

29 September 2023
COCOON - cover art
Glitchwave rating
3.64 / 5.0
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169 Ratings / 4 Reviews
#878 All-time
#25 for 2023
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2023 Annapurna  
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I loved the whole vibe and design of the game. Quite the gaming experience. However, I got a little confused at the end about what this was all supposed to be saying.

The artwork here is some of the best I've seen recently.
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redgravehepburn 2024-02-01T15:42:03Z
2024-02-01T15:42:03Z
4.5
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I saw this new game and that it came from the creators of Inside and Limbo and had to play instantly. Unsurprisingly, I absolutely loved it. It's incredibly beautiful. the puzzles aren't too hard but aren't too easy either. It gets confusing towards the end but it's clearly meant to be. The whole concept is really cool and unique for a modern video game. I haven't played any other game from this year but it's certainly one of my favorites of the decade.
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Jason29422 2023-12-01T20:04:44Z
2023-12-01T20:04:44Z
5.0
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Quit orbing around
COCOON is an isometric platformer centred around logic puzzles. It has very simple controls, really it only features the directional movement options as well as an interact button, and thats about it. This despite the fact that the protagnist is a bug like creature with wings, but I guess that doesnt really matter. It also features a minimalistic UI and simple sound prompts. The comparisons to Limbo and INSIDE are apt, except that there isnt any death screen and its puzzles are a bit more developed. Unlike those two its also displayed in isometric view instead of 2d, which permits a much broader selection of puzzles.

Its a short game, but they do a lot with the concepts introduced. The game is based around the mechanics of orbs that contain whole worlds and possess unique powers that are needed for transversal of the level (one allows you to cross invisible bridges, another to shift pillars). You can take orbs into each other, and thus begins the complexity and creativity of the puzzles delivered in the level. Each puzzle has solutions that are short to deploy, even if the walking speed is perhaps too slow for the large levels. With the regular introduction of new mechanics, and combination of different mechanics, the game gave rise to some very satisfying "eureka" moments. Its never too frustrating or needlessly convuloted.

Visually the game is gorgeous, featuring a very minimalistic but colourful artstyle. I like all the small touches like water movements, reflection and small wildlife added, that really makes the different worlds unique and live in places.

Story is not really important in this sort of title. There isnt a single word pronounced, and as far as I can tell its about alien beings trying to take control of your orbs. It works with the mysterious setting of the game, but nothing all that memorable.

Only major flaw is that on my end it was prone to severe freezing in certain moments as well as complete crashing. Not sure why, its not a very performance heavy game at all.

Overall this is an excellent puzzle game that doesnt take much time to beat, but leaves a very good impression.
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Threntall 2023-11-27T14:39:06Z
2023-11-27T14:39:06Z
4.0
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Cocoon takes a minimal approach to everything. As soon as you start the game for the first time you are thrown right into world one with no main menu. Since the game can be completed in 2-3 hours it’s very possible to complete the game in one sitting without pausing. In which case, the only text you will see is “Press [lower button]” (I don’t know if there’s a better word to describe Switch-style button prompts.) From there it’s assumed the player can know that left analogue stick is move and that’s all you need. There are no other inputs a player can perform. There are no voices. Even the soundtrack is minimal, leaning towards an atmospheric composition and jingles that play when certain events occur. The two words that can surmise this game are minimal and streamlined.

Streamlined is also the game’s greatest weakness when it comes to puzzle design. Jeppe Carlson previously worked as the lead gameplay designer on LIMBO and Inside. One of the main criticisms of these games is the plethora of fail-states causing a trial-and-error form of puzzle design. The player would advance only to be killed suddenly and force a restart, but now that you expect what happens you are able to prevent your death and progress. I have to image Carlson took these criticisms to heart because in Cocoon there are no fail-states. There is no decision you can make as a player that would cause you to be stuck, restart, and approach the puzzle in a different way. However, the core of this trial-and-error puzzle design is still present, albeit in a more subtle way. As an example I will present the first puzzle of Cocoon, but I have to give a disclaimer of a bias I have.

The first puzzle you encounter in a game should be a base-case. Something that is straightforward and simple to present the mechanics of the game to the player, to be later built on top of. It is the tutorial and equips you for the rest of the game. It is the equivalent of placing a cube on a button, or writing three lines of fictional assembly to move a bot across network nodes. Later puzzles will add on to this rule to create more complex puzzles and this is how the difficulty is raised as you continue. In Portal, you know that the solution to the test chamber is to place the cube on a button, but after the tutorial it’s never that simple and the process changes with every level.

With that out of the way I’ll give my lengthy description of Cocoon’s first puzzle, and please note beyond this point are SPOILERS for the entire game:


The player reaches a platform with a button on it before a gap. Pressing the button moves the platform forward across the gap to the other side, but also moves the platform on the opposite side, parallel to the platform the player is on. The player should have also noticed a pathway near the middle point of the gap connected to the second side and the first moving platform, but its purpose is unknown at this point. Once the player moves the first platform and is on the other side they are unable to continue because the second moving platform they need is opposite of them. It’s quickly obvious the player will need to traverse the next platform to progress and thus the puzzle is presented. So, the player returns to the first platform and presses the switch to return, but leaves the platform halfway. This leaves the player on the secondary side but with the moveable platforms in a different state. The player walks to the second moving platform, flips the switch and continues on.

Some players may complete the above in-game without much thought, and some of you will disagree that it’s even a puzzle. To those that disagree, I commend your ability to stick to rigid definitions of puzzle design, but in that case Cocoon loses its identity as a puzzle game with exploration mechanics and becomes an adventure/exploration game with puzzle mechanics. Nevertheless, I accept Cocoon as a puzzle game and I don’t wish to continue into genre semantics.

If we were to simply the first puzzle to its skeleton it’s something like this:

1. Walk forward until a dead-end.
2. Turn around and flip a switch.
3. Progress in the newly opened correct way.

With some minor tweaks (such as grabbing an item instead of flipping a switch, or timing your execution) this three step design outline is present in nearly every puzzle hence forth. If you know this process, you know how to complete the game. The player will find themselves entering a new area and immediately knowing how to complete it before their hands can execute. They didn't make a tutorial base-case puzzle, they made an explicit guide to complete every level in the game. Walking until you cannot progress unless you reassess the situation is synonymous with a trail-and-error process.

I want to give props to the developers for making a game without words so intuitive to understand, but it gets monotonous immediately knowing the solution at every turn. It doesn’t benefit from engaging movement or a catchy score. The jingles that play when you “solve” a puzzle are a nice detail, but I already solved the puzzle. All I’m hearing is confirmation that I’m at the last step of the process.

The exceptions to this process exist with shape-note puzzles where you search the area for the list of shapes in the correct order, and with the boss fights where you learn the gimmick and avoid getting hit. I could talk a lot of the positives and negatives of the exceptions, especially how in boss fights they are themed after the mechanic of the next orb you’ll carry but this review is getting long enough and that’s the first time I’ve mentioned orbs in a game about orbs.

Orbs have unique properties based on their color. When you exit the desert level you find you’ve just exited an orange orb and you can enter and exit from specific points. The player can then pick up the orb and after the boss fight use its unique ability. The game's description and most reviews I’ve watched of Cocoon describe picking up the orb as “picking up the entire world” but this actually isn’t the case. It’s revealed in later levels that the orbs are more like teleport locations as the levels are connected at specific points, allowing you to carry the green orb within itself. This mechanic is unfortunately only used for one small portion and I would’ve liked to see a lot more of it.

For the majority of the game you will be completing the three step process until you get the white orb. The white orb allows you to shoot a projectile into a target and this acts as a switch. Soon you will be able to place the white orb into a device that will shoot at regular intervals. At this point the player is no longer tasked with flipping the right switch at the right time, but is instead going to be building machines. It shines the most when the player is tasked with shooting projectile into an orb, which leads to another orb, which leads to a target to power essentially a state transition. With the right alignment of orbs, reflective panels, teleportation, and projectiles, Cocoon reaches its potential of unique puzzle mechanics utilizing each orb’s properties. And then it ends.

The last thing you do in game is place the orbs within each other with the same mechanical depth of a nesting doll. It’s a nice way to reinforce the game’s mechanic of orbs within orbs, but this mechanic was only briefly touched before reaching this point so it feels unearned. I also felt the purple orb was nearly forgotten by the end of the game.



For those that enjoy a minimal, subtle story and world building there is a lot to love here. There are some minor secrets to reward players for exploration, and each world is visually and aurally pleasing to experience. However, if you’re looking for the emergence of deep, complex, or mind-blowing puzzles, this larva was left immature.
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jonesindiana 2023-11-13T21:44:23Z
2023-11-13T21:44:23Z
2.5
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Catalog

Ripo82517 COCOON 2024-02-24T18:23:48Z
2024-02-24T18:23:48Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
jeler COCOON 2024-02-24T05:47:49Z
2024-02-24T05:47:49Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
cclyr COCOON 2024-02-21T20:05:25Z
2024-02-21T20:05:25Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Giann96 Cocoon 2024-02-20T05:04:59Z
XSX / Xbox One / Windows
2024-02-20T05:04:59Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
moralreef COCOON 2024-02-20T04:03:04Z
2024-02-20T04:03:04Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
efoja87 COCOON 2024-02-20T03:51:21Z
2024-02-20T03:51:21Z
3.5
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Beskeebis COCOON 2024-02-18T11:46:30Z
2024-02-18T11:46:30Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Foca_monje COCOON 2024-02-18T11:29:49Z
2024-02-18T11:29:49Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Indie Puzzles
benothor COCOON 2024-02-18T09:24:54Z
2024-02-18T09:24:54Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
TCC COCOON 2024-02-16T11:20:13Z
2024-02-16T11:20:13Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
ViolentDelights COCOON 2024-02-16T10:40:50Z
2024-02-16T10:40:50Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Lovergard COCOON 2024-02-14T18:32:06Z
2024-02-14T18:32:06Z
4.25
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
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  • Previous comments (14) Loading...
  • OGDreamcast 2024-02-01 21:57:02.309097+00
    Nice game but yeah way too easy, great OST, doesn't say anything of value, but the puzzle flow and the last 1/4th of the game is great. Great rainy afternoon game.
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    • ViolentDelights 2024-02-16 10:49:18.696152+00
      I'm not sure that it doesn't say anything of value (see a related rambling below), but, to be fair, how often is it a requirement for puzzle games to say anything of value? Hell, wasn't one of the best-received titles of last year just about glazing donuts in increasingly baroque ways? Even classics like Myst didn't really have a lot to say, no? Not everything has to be The Outer Wilds or even Portal. I take your point, but I feel like some of the criticisms of this title just don't match up with what the developers were and weren't aiming to accomplish.
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  • Drawdler 2024-02-10 02:02:58.922899+00
    I haven’t played this and I like the art style but the game mostly just looks like walking around ngl. I like the idea of carrying around worlds between layers but I don’t think that novelty can carry it for me
    reply
    • Drawdler 2024-02-10 02:03:54.321802+00
      Maybe interesting characters is the missing hook for me, they all look too robotic for me to get endeared from what I’ve seen
    • ViolentDelights 2024-02-16 10:46:47.567947+00
      I can agree with this, but I don't think the developers were going for endearing or identifiable characters. The world feels purposely alien and incomprehensible in a way that I found philosophically interesting, but it is ahuman. It's a definite contrast with, say, Inside (where I think the player develops some confusing emotional connections with extremely inhuman matter, or with other cinematic platformers like FAR, where extremely the extremely basic features of the protagonist arguably allow for more identification with the character, like the schematic art used in some comic books--I'm thinking of Scott McCloud's graphic text Understanding Comics).)
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  • ac_church 2024-02-11 22:26:37.871425+00
    every puzzle and strategy game simply must have several guys in the comments bragging about how easy it was to solve with their humongous, veiny brain
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  • tonitaste 2024-02-14 03:41:25.37665+00
    The annoying boss fights pretty much ruin the good impression. Great artstyle, but a bit overrated.
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  • ViolentDelights 2024-02-16 10:00:36.541707+00
    It's kind of like a feature-length Cloister of Trials.
    reply
    • ViolentDelights 2024-02-16 11:14:56.298576+00
      Last comment--I've said too much here, and I should have just written a review. I broadly agree with those saying that the puzzles aren't especially challenging, but I'd complicate that claim a bit. Wrapping your brain around the world and what's going on it, logically and metaphysically, is much more of a stretch than just checking the boxes the puzzles require. The game seems interested in never letting the player feel lost--the world can feel vast, but you're usually confined to quite a small area with only a couple of instruments at hand at any given point in the game. This reduces the mechanical difficulty, but I'd still suggest there's more conceptual depth to be chewed over than the puzzles themselves offer.
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  • cclyr 2024-02-21 20:13:21.456275+00
    every puzzle and strategy game simply must have several guys in the comments bragging about how easy it was to solve with their humongous, veiny brain [2]
    reply
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