STAFF REVIEW of Cobalt (Xbox One)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016.
by Brent Roberts

Cobalt Box art How on Earth do you follow up one of the most successful games of all time? Minecraft wasn't just a great creative game, but a doorway that allowed the minds of others to take the game and shape it as they saw fit. Innovative and amazing to the point where it creates its own culture. Now Mojang and Oxeye Game Studio bring us Cobalt. Now before we begin, I have to stress that this is nowhere near as impactful as Minecraft. That's not to say that this game is without or devoid of any value, but at $19.99 USD it becomes hard to justify that value. Let me explain why.

When you first start up Cobalt, you'll be whisked away back into the good old days of the 1980's complete with synth heavy music and imposing robots with laser beams and a tissue thin plot. Cobalt is the main character and essentially you're sent to investigate a signal that you receive from your computer friend that may have come from humans. This is apparently a big deal as there hasn't been any contact in 50 years. So off you go on a side scrolling action platformer that, even though it may have some big dents in it, can become fun, but not for $19.99.

The control setup can become very complex and even problematic. I was playing this game using an Xbox One Elite Controller and found that the trigger locks in this game prevent you from essentially doing any offense. On top of that, the game mechanics are overly sensitive and require precise timing otherwise you can kiss any chance of success goodbye. Once that was solved I rapidly found out that the game centers around one aspect of control, the roll. Yes, rolling will be something you'll be doing almost constantly. You'll roll and shoot, roll and punch, roll and jump, and roll and roll some more. The reason you're going to be doing all this rolling is because of Cobalt's built in bullet time feature where incoming projectiles can be deflected back at your attacker if you, say it with me now: ROLL! This is your main source of avoiding certain death so get ready to do more rolling than a gymnast.

Now you may be saying to yourself "no problem, I'll just keep rolling and nothing will hurt me." You would be very wrong. Cobalt at times can be very frustrating and when you are staring at your screen filling up with enemies and one little roll isn't going to help. Thus you have your armament broken into three categories:
(X button) Melee (shovels and fists, etc.)
(Y button) Ranged (alien blasters, guns, etc.) and
(B button) Throwable (basically everything else, bird eggs, grenades, etc.).

So now you have your weapons and your roll ability, and that’s when Cobalt takes a few more dings in the armor. Case in point, you will come across certain mini games throughout your adventure such as hacking. This mini game must be completed at times to utilize computers, open doors, and more; you get the idea. This however wasn't covered in the tutorial, neither was lock picking, or safe cracking, or utilizing musical tones to properly unlock certain doors. Being tossed into the deep end was frustrating at first since getting things wrong sounded the guards with guns, though once you get the hang of it, it still was very, very annoying.

While the single player has some issues, they tend to blend more into the background of the action. Multiple modes with up to 8 other people can engage in robot warfare on various gametypes. There are a lot of variants of robot to select from, each of which bears their own positives and negatives. Even though the multiplayer does do a decent job trying to inject the fun back into the title, Cobalt sadly can't recover and it's a case of too little too late, and that saddens me.

Originally I thought that this game would not be one that I would enjoy playing. I can sit here and honestly say that I did not expect to enjoy this game going into it, but after playing it, I do. I do enjoy the game and that is why it's sad. See if the game was horrible then no big loss, just chalk another one up in the column. But Cobalt wasn't that, and instead the faults that are found bear no joy. As I ended my gameplay with Cobalt, I was left with a feeling of regret. Outside of the dialogue, there is sadly no justification I can give for spending $19.99. I would wait till it was $4.99 or on the GWG (Games with Gold) and that is disappointing because it could have been great.

Overall: 6.2 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.5 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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