Its always impressive to me when a studio's very first game manages to be get almost everything right. So many video games struggle to pull off all the major aspects of video game development, with some big games like Anthem and Fallout 76 being basically unplayable at launch. Indie developer Pixel Delusion knocks it out of the park with Kosmokrats, which combines tight puzzle gameplay, intriguing decisions and repercussions for actions in-game, and satirical comedy based around the Cold War.
In Kosmokrats you are dropped into the shoes of a potato-peeler who works on a Soviet space station. Your entire job is at first to peel potatoes (the only food brought into space) for everyone who lives there, until the Soviets suddenly need a replacement drone pilot. You then get thrown into this role with zero training and are expected to build other stations and ships for your comrades to live or do research in. After a few missions though someone back on Earth decided to hit the big red button, which triggers nuclear war. Now you and the rest of the Soviets are trapped in space and become locked in a struggle against the United States to find a new planet to live on.
From Potato-Peeler to Drone Pilot
The majority of Kosmokrats has you remotely controlling a drone from inside the station and pushing modules together to form new stations. Since you are in space though the drone pilots slightly erratically and modules will continue moving if they are pushed slightly. Before each mission players will be quickly shown a blueprint that they are then supposed to push all the modules together to form that specific shape. To make matters even more difficult modules can only connect to each other if they both have the same color connective pieces and you are only given a few minutes to complete the task before the modules all come crashing down into the atmosphere. As Kosmokrats progresses on the space station shapes become more complicated, the size of them becomes much larger, and there are varied obstacles for players to avoid.
Somehow Kosmokrats manages to have engaging puzzles to solve, hilarious satirical comedy, and have actual repercussions for a players actions all at the same time.
The thing that makes Kosmokrats so interesting though is that there if you fail a mission it becomes permanent. The game doesn't give you the opportunity to replay a level and instead that part of the space station goes crashing into whatever planet you are hovering near. This can have some big impacts on the overall game, like for example the space station can begin to run low on food if enough potato storage modules are destroyed. When you don't have food to eat then it becomes more difficult to navigate the drone during missions, which in turn causes failure more often. If food runs out completely then people on the ship might start resorting to cannibalism, which can trigger all kinds of issues on the space station. I played several runs of Kosmokrats over my time with it and every single play through was different than the last.
Cold War Satire That Actually Works
Kosmokrats is also absolutely hilarious. It plays off the inherent differences and flaws of both communism and capitalism with the interactions between the Soviets and America. One ridiculous mission in particular takes place not long after leaving Earth. Despite being low on resources and being pursued by the Americans, the leader of the Soviets forces you to build a new space station with face plastered all over it. Later on in the game a kidnapped American scientist makes it clear that the Soviets and Americans are actually pretty similar despite how much they despise each other. Satire is pretty difficult to pull of under normal circumstances, but it is even harder considering how insane the world is right now. Kosmokrats does a wonderful job of being funny and insightful at the same time.
One of the most fun things about Kosmokrats though is the number of secrets tucked away within it. You earn money by completing missions that can in turn be used to purchase food to prolong starvation, but can also be used to pick up customization materials for the control room. There are also several small mini-games that can be purchased for an Atari-like system that sits on the drone operator's desk. These games resemble classic old-school video games like Pong or even Battlezone. There is a wealth of little things like this to discover throughout Kosmokrats world, and it makes for a nice way to cool down between difficult missions.
A Killer First Video Game
In my opinion, one of the hardest things to do in video games is creating engaging puzzle gameplay. The Portals and The Witnesses of the world are few and far between, and while Kosmokrats doesn't have traditional puzzles to solve it does do something very similar to those games. As you progress in Kosmokrats you are forced to take the things you learned early on and combine them with new mechanics. By the end of the game all of your knowledge has compounded, which makes puzzles much more complicated yet more satisfying to solve. I can't recommend Kosmokrats enough.
TechRaptor reviewed Kosmokrats on PC using a code provided by the developer.
- Permanent Repercussions For Choices
- Engaging Puzzle Gameplay
- Hilarious Comedic Elements
- Fun Hidden Secrets
- Can Be Pretty Difficult