Hey, space game enthusiasts! Hold onto your moon boots - I dove deep into the extraterrestrial sea of Steam Next Fest demos and surfaced with a gem of interstellar proportions: Cobalt Core. Imagine Slay The Spire and FTL had a love child, raised on a diet of roguelike deck-building and fast-paced space adventuring - this game embraces the amalgamation completely.
We might argue that FTL's follow-up, Into The Breach, left its fingerprints here too, but why quibble about genetics? Just give the demo a whirl and experience the beguiling blend of influences.
In Cobalt Core, you are a maverick spaceship crew caught in a time loop - think Groundhog Day, but with more lasers - journeying the cosmos to break free. You must select your route to liberation via a FTL/STS-style galaxy map, choosing between dynamic battle nodes, cosmic bosses, interstellar shops, and paradoxical encounters. The path you pick is up to you - just remember, in space, no one can hear you scream if you make a wrong turn.
The action plays out similarly to Slay the Spire when tangling with a solitary adversary. But there's a kick - each turn, you draw a hand of cards from your deck, and you're only given a finite amount of energy to respond. These cards offer you a variety of spaceship-shuffling options, from instant strikes and future attack boosts to shield accumulations and damage-over-time effects. Of course, to keep things spicy, you also need to dodge any incoming enemy fire.
The battlefield here isn't a grim and gloomy dungeon, but a high-speed series of lanes. You can bob and weave around enemy bullets while launching your own, but watch out for those pesky asteroids and drone-laden enemies.
As a freshly minted space pilot, you begin your cosmic career with a simple deck but can evolve into more intricate strategies as you acquire new cards, notch up upgrades, and collect artifacts. From a fleet that decimates foes with an array of tiny but powerful attacks to a corrosion-throwing juggernaut that watches enemies disintegrate, the space is your oyster.
Beam me up, Scotty! The Cobalt Core demo is ready for download on its Steam page. It may not be a full-on space opera, but it's sure to land on your interest radar and wishlist before it rockets off to its big launch on November 8th. The game is also navigating its way onto Nintendo Switch, which, to my understanding, isn't part of Elon Musk's SpaceX fleet.
Our favorite space geeks over at the Indiescovery podcast also had their say about Cobalt Core, following their hands-on experience at Pax East earlier this year. Stay tuned to hear more from them. So buckle up, plug in that joystick, and see if you have what it takes to break the cycle and escape the time loop. And remember: in the infinite expanse of space, everyone can hear you laugh.
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