Socialism is alive and well, and heading into outer space! Kosmokrats primarily serves up a zero-gravity physics-based puzzler, but the satirical story that’s woven into the puzzle action also takes a humorous stab at socio-political issues.
In the alternative reality of Kosmokrats, mankind is seeking to exist beyond the boundaries of Earth, and you have bravely joined the USSR’s Space Force, a group that wishes to spread their principles (with a dose of propaganda) into space while avoiding the “capitalist enemy”. You begin as a lowly potato peeler on the space station – “Who would have thought that peeling potatoes in space was just as boring as peeling potatoes on Earth?” states the narrator, voiced by award-winning actor Bill Nighy – but an unexpected turn of events results in your promotion to drone operator.
You’re promptly assigned the drone operation desk, featuring vintage tech with a 60s aesthetic. The CRT monitor in front of you glows as it presents each mission, in which you take control of a drone as it glides through space, gently nudging blocks into position to build various structures that aid the Space Force. There is a hint of Tetris in the puzzle gameplay, although – for maximum points – the structures need to be built to a specific design, rather than with free-form creativity. Certain blocks have coloured connectors on them, which must be aligned with another segment with the same colour connector, and each challenge is timed.
You can’t rush the job, however, as damaging the pieces may result in loss of essential parts: shatter a potato farm dome for example, and your food supply will take a hit. There are also cosmonauts floating about that, being humans, squish very easily if they are crushed by a space station. Later, asteroids add a further hazardous element. Drone tweaks become available over time, and careful decision-making is required to choose from the options provided.
When you’re manipulating your drone from the comfort of your in-game desk, there is a genuine sense of the drone floating in the open vastness of space; a wonderful feeling of isolation, with Earth visible – vulnerable – in the backdrop. A successful mission earns you cash, which can be spent on cosmetic upgrades to your office. You can also invest in a game cartridge for the chunky games console – the Я-Box – that sits beside you. The mini-games on offer are a surprising perk for a desk job under a totalitarian regime.
There are several branching moments to the storyline, and many potential endings. Interestingly, there are occasions where you can opt to fail a mission, depending on where your allegiances lie. There’s a wealth of additional characters all vying for your help, including an ominous AI computer with a penchant for cat videos.
Several difficulty modes and the nature of the branching storyline means that there is plenty of replay value in Kosmokrats. The physics-based movement of your drone is perfectly pitched, and unintentional errors often feel like player failure, rather than a fault in game design.
Influencing people’s lives from the comfort of your desk is reminiscent of the game Papers, Please, but Kosmokrats carves its own unique tale. There is a lot to like: the vintage tech, the humorous script, the wonderfully immersive soundtrack, and the fluid physics of your drone. The zero-gravity puzzling can be frustrating at times, and there are moments in which the story lacks a little subtlety, but nevertheless this a superb debut for Pixel Delusion on the Switch.
Kosmokrats Review £11.99
Kosmokrats is essentially Tetris in space wrapped in a tale of intergalactic capitalism versus socialism. A witty script combines with 1960s tech and an ever-evolving story (with multiple potential endings), resulting in a uniquely crafted tale. To outer space, comrades!