Cosmic Leap is an action and rhythm based indie title created by Michael Hall with the goal of testing the player’s reflexes and rhythm. The ultimate goal of each of the 100 levels is simple: reach your rocket-ship at the end of the course without dying due to some sort of obstacle. This seems to be Michael’s first foray into the indie gaming market, but Cosmic Leap finds itself becoming as disappointing as the reality television genre it seeks to emulate, with floaty controls and dull gameplay.
The player takes on the role of a new contestant in the television game show Cosmic Leap, a dangerous test of reflexes that is the premium form of entertainment for the current government. The player character is formerly a member of a resistance against the current governing body; that is, until the resistance was defeated and their home solar system or “sector” had their sun destroyed and their forces captured. The player is now forced to play in the Cosmic Leap game show, hoping not only to survive but to thrive in the hostile environment they find themselves in.
This story really only sets up the purpose for Cosmic Leap and is not mentioned again in any way shape or form after the opening text and introduction, though it does have an interesting sort of Hunger Games feel to it.
Cosmic Leap itself doesn’t deviate too much from its overall formula-each level is set up with the player character standing on one of a series of multiple planets, each with their own gravity and size. The gameplay combines that of an endless runner with an action platformer and rhythm game, where the player must time their jumps correctly or make sure the character is moving the correct direction in order to avoid hazards and reach the rocket ship at the end of the level.
Reaching the rocket ship is all that is needed in order to unlock the next level. However, if they want to receive a better grade on the level (measured from A to F), the player can collect all of the coins in each level OR reach the end before the target time (basically beating the completion time in a way that could be considered a time-trial.) Doing so will not only allow you to progress but will also enable you to unlock Cosmic levels, which are higher difficulty levels designed for a greater challenge. Obstacles come in a variety of forms, such as moving spikes that orbit the planets, road blocks that instantly cause the player to have to replay the level upon collision, or ships that fire missiles at the player as they pass by.
Something I do find interesting is that there are a variety of characters (or contestants) that can be unlocked. However, the only way to unlock these characters is to time a jump so that the player lands directly in the passing character’s rocket-ship. Once unlocked the characters can be played through levels you have already completed or new levels that you have not tried yet. The downside to this is that the characters (and unlockable rocket ships) are nothing more than costumed versions of the standard character. They offer no real benefit beyond a change of scenery (and a slight chuckle when you play as “press start” the character that looks like a start button.)
I previously mentioned that Cosmic Leap has 100 levels, though that count is SLIGHTLY misleading. Each level has a cosmic counterpart, so players are technically getting half the content if the player finds themselves uninterested in the cosmic levels or simply finds them too frustrating. I myself found the cosmic levels greatly disappointing, as the controls were too floaty to precisely time jumps in order to avoid the metric ton of obstacles thrown at the player. After only playing a few of the cosmic levels from the beginning set, I shudder to think about how insanely frustrating the later cosmic counterparts might be.
As far as Cosmic Leap’s visuals go, I can honestly say that they aren’t the most beautiful I’ve seen. However, Cosmic Leap offers an optional TV filter to make the game seem like it is being viewed on a television in order to enhance the theme of the Cosmic Leap game show. I find that to be an interesting (and rather well crafted) choice, despite the fact that I chose to turn the filter off so that I could get a clearer view of what I was doing without the odd color shift impairing my depth perception.
Another problem that I saw was in the game’s music. The same song played on every level and never seemed to deviate much, which became distracting as I played more levels. While I enjoyed the techno-style chiptune beats at first, the same set of notes over and over again began to annoy me to the point where I found myself turning the music off completely.
Overall, I found Cosmic Leap disappointing in a lot of ways. The game is fun for a while, but the mechanics don’t lend for much variety beyond the general process of jumping and moving in the opposite direction to avoid obstacles. Combine that problem with floaty, unresponsive controls, along with a lack of an upgrade system or varied characters to create different playstyles, and Cosmic Leap becomes easily forgettable in the sea of fantastic indie titles out there. For the $1.99 price point, it isn’t a bad time waster, but it isn’t something I would consider getting long-term enjoyment out of.
A PC code for Cosmic Leap was provided by Black Shell Media for the purpose of this review