A weekend with…Cobalt
It probably skipped your attention with all the betas going on last weekend, but intriguing 2D platformer Cobalt was also free to play for 48 hours. You might have actually already heard of Cobalt, as it’s been out for a while on early access. However, it was only recently fully released back in February, and its progress has been carefully watched by many, as its been published in part by Mojang, creators of Minecraft. While there’s also been an Xbox release, I played the Steam version.
Cobalt is a side scrolling platformer with a few core mechanics that allow it to stand out from the crowd. You can choose between melee, ranged, and thrown weapons, of which there is a wide variety. There’s the option of stealth at times, and a decent range of movement skills that allow you to propel yourself around the world quite nimbly when you get the hang of them. The best of these mechanics however is the roll ability, combined with the bullet time the game has. You see, when you roll, many projectiles and objects bounce off you, and if timed well will bounce directly at the source. This includes bullets and grenades, as long as they don’t hit your feet, and the games bullet time automatically activates when a bullet comes too close. This little combination is relatively easy to pull off when a single bullet comes your way, but when you pull off a roll that has every enemy in the room taken out by their own shot in just a few seconds it feels just perfect.
The singleplayer I played was brilliantly charming, with a tutorial that gets you into the swing of things quite quickly. The two minor issues I had were that the controls could be somewhat unusual at times, and the locations and maps were so sprawling with so many routes that it was slightly easy to get lost. Not that getting lost was any problem, as the game world looks good and is packed with interesting little details, NPCs to talk to and secrets to find. Not to mention having different routes gives you several options to get to your objective. Once every while the humor misses the mark, but as a whole the game presents one of those worlds that invites you to sink into it and forget its 2D nature.
In addition to the story, there’s a large multiplayer offering, with plenty of game modes for both online and local play. The games I joined were a bit frenetic and disjointed at times, but worked better than I expected it might. It was easy to find a game, though the player count was no doubt boosted slightly by the free weekend. Using the mechanics to play grenade ping-pong is certainly a favourite, and all in the community is friendly and enjoys a good laugh. I think local play in particular would turn Cobalt into a brilliant party game, considering the amount of different modes available. There’s also plenty of single player/hot-seat challenge maps for you to test your skills in, and prove your worth on the leaderboards.
In addition to this, there’s a built in map editor. You can create new single player or co-op levels, challenge maps, arcade arenas and there’s even a steam workshop to upload your creations to! There is so much content already in the game, and having the ability to create your own and having an active online community that continues to pump out fresh maps is a massive draw.
All in all Cobalt seems a very underrated game that’s certainly worth your time. Considering I came out of both DOOM and Battleborn concerned about a likely lack of content, it was refreshing to see a game that had so much to do, though my enthusiasm was somewhat dampened by the lack of players playing it. There’s masses of content and plenty more being built all the time by the community. It seems a shame that it might have missed out on a lot of interest simply because a) its not got a big following behind it already and b) its free weekend was on the same dates as some big betas. Unfortunate and a fate Cobalt does not deserve, but such is the gaming world.