From Cocoon’s opening moments, it was apparent this upcoming puzzle game from Geometric Interactive masterfully conveyed an ambiance of mystery and dread. Emerging from a cocoon in a desolate desert ecosystem, the player assumes control of a nameless bug-like creature, and without so much as a prompt of what to do or where to go, I was set free to roam the abandoned landscape.
Soon after our bug hero’s outset, I found myself confronted with my first set of puzzles. The challenges in Cocoon usually involve getting from point A to point B, but due to the protagonist’s inability to jump or climb, it requires the player to create series of platforms and bridges to provide safe crossing. Our bug hero is able to carry small orbs on his back, which can (depending on the type of orb) move platforms and open doors. As things progress, orbs can be gifted with special abilities such as creating invisible platforms, or moving to the top or bottom of vertical stones.
While these puzzles are clever, Cocoon’s greatest mechanic, and biggest shock, is the realization that the desert world the bug has been exploring is simply a diorama inside an orb. Perhaps ten minutes into the voyage, the player will be able to set down an orb in specific location, and they will be transported outwardly into an ominous factory-like locale. Making the discovery that all the orbs are different worlds that our hero will be entering and exiting, and that Cocoon’s larger goal will be discovering the mystery of this strange factory, is an exhilarating one to make.
Not only is this surprise fantastic and makes Cocoon stand out, it opens up a world of possibilities for its puzzles. Many areas will require the player to jump in and out of various orbs, shifting from the desert area, back to the factory, and perhaps even a third terrarium to navigate around barriers, and transport multiple orbs in and out of different zones.
At the end of each orb’s world is a boss functioning as a real-time puzzle, forcing the player to analyze their movement patterns and determine a way to fight them. Since our bug has no attacking ability, players will need to find environmental weapons in each confrontation in order to harm a boss, and the player will get booted back out to the factory if they get hit, making even the smallest mistake costly. However, getting kicked out doesn’t completely restart the battle, as upon reentry I was able to pick up my progress wherever I left off.
From my time with Cocoon, I can tell there are incredible possibilities via its mindbending puzzles and cryptic storytelling. The ability to leap in and out of multiple worlds to solve a single puzzle is tantalizingly complex, and uncovering the truth of the mystifying factory is one I look forward to uncovering.
Cocoon releases tomorrow, September 29th, on all major platforms!