There's a certain joy in not knowing. In avoiding trailers and hype, screenshots and terminally online discussion. You find certain sources - people, publishers, developers - that you trust, and then you simply experience their output and recommendations. No teaser needed, no hook to draw you in. They've earned the blind leap.

Which is how I came to Cocoon. Didn't know the genre, hadn't seen a single screen. Downloaded it, booted it up. Little beetle man, running around. Fairly standard lug and tug puzzles and then: the leap. Upwards and outwards into the understanding that the little world you were in is just that: a little world, subject to the same lug and tug rules. Instantly smitten, excited, thinking about all the ways things could unfold.

It certainly doesn't hurt that the game is wonderfully tactile, enigmatic and alive and alien. The soundscape resonates perfectly. Little musical swells let you know when you're walking into the solution of a puzzle, insectile feet clink and clank pleasantly. Lovely stuff.

The puzzles? Sadly, still those standard lug and tugs, with the occasional nod to the in-and-out world hopping. You collect more orbs - worlds - with different abilities. You apply them in safe, softlock-proof puzzles, each discrete enough that you run no risk of them ever overlapping. A little poking and prodding is all you ever need to get through, even in the eleventh hour when the game starts to twist its core mechanic inward on itself.

And that's the problem, really. Cocoon is clever but safe, polished to a mirror sheen. You gloss and glide over it, meeting little resistance until you find the end. It's fun, it's gorgeous to look at and listen to, but it's playtested and designed into pursued perfection, afraid to challenge the player in any meaningful way. Which is fine. It is what it wants to be, and time spent with it is hardly wasted. Nonetheless, it could have been more. As it stands, it promises the stars but delivers the moon.

Reviewed on Oct 03, 2023


4 months ago

I'm so excited to play this. I love when a short indie gem is released out of nowhere. Thanks for the review!

4 months ago

Looks awesome, thanks for the review.

I'm kind of happy that the puzzles have training wheels; I was worried this game would be too hard for my thembo brain.