«

»

Cosmic Top Secret review for Xbox One, PS4, Switch


Platform: Xbox One
Also on: PC, PS4, Switch
Publisher: Nakana.io
Developer: Klassefilm/Those Eyes
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: T

Part of me felt like I was being placed on some spooky government watch list just for playing Cosmic Top Secret. After all, there are two things that come up when you search for that phrase:

    1. the game of which you’re currently reading the review; and
    2. information about NATO’s highest level of security.

In fact, those two things are connected, since this game is based on interview recordings made by Danish documentary filmmaker Trine Laier with her parents — with her father holding that level of security clearance from his work during the Cold War. As you play through the game, you uncover not only artifacts from Denmark’s Cold War experience, but also clips of Laier speaking with her dad.

It makes for a very odd experience for a bunch of reasons. First, given that Laier’s father has Cosmic Top Secret clearance, he can’t exactly talk about his past, which means that most of the videos find Laier trying to weasel information out of him, as he deflects and changes the subject.

More than that, though, Cosmic Top Secret is just a weird mishmash of things thrown together. It’s sort of a 3D platformer, since you’re controlling a paper version of Laier as she rolls around various levels, picking up historical documents and clues. However, it’s worth noting that it doesn’t control all that well, and there are scattered moments where the game calls for precision that’s not quite impossible, but not particularly easy, either.

On top of that, you have an art style that feels kind of Monty Python-esque, since so much of the world is designed to look like paper cutouts (hence you’re able to roll Laier around — she crumples up into a ball as she explores levels). It’s definitely trippy, and it adds to the overall weirdness.

Above all else, though, Cosmic Top Secret should probably be judged as an educational game — since, after all, it’s a walk through not-so-distant history, from a country that was essentially on the frontlines of the Cold War. And from that perspective, it’s a fascinating game, both in terms of how Denmark balanced its ties to the West and the Soviets>, being a member of NATO while also trying not to get invaded by Russia, and in terms of how that conflict-by-proxy played out in the lives of one family. There are all kinds of historical goodies scattered throughout the game to uncover — often literally — and if you’re interested in it at all, it makes for a pretty compelling game.

If you don’t care about history, of course, then Cosmic Top Secret probably isn’t worth your time. Like I said, the 3D platforming element is wonky at the best of times, so if you don’t want a deep dive into Cold War history, it won’t be worth it. But if you’re in the mood to be educated as you play, Cosmic Top Secret is about as engrossing as historical games come.

Nakana.io provided us with a Cosmic Top Secret Xbox One code for review purposes.

Grade: B