Cosmophony is a rhythmic shooter for the PlayStation 3 which has you guiding a craft as it flies through a wire frame halfpipe packed full of geometric shapes. These are either obstacles to avoid or targets to blast and each of the five stages available are set to a thumping drum and bass soundtrack from French producer and DJ, Salaryman. This music, when mashed up with its seizure inducing visuals, certainly makes an impression, creating a presentational style that can only be described one way: mind-boggling.
This proves to be a little too much at first, as the sensory overload's hugely off-putting, prompting you to ponder what kind of subliminal messages the developer is trying to cram into your noggin. Fortunately, the more that you play, the more that you'll learn to block out much of the noise, enabling you to focus purely on the moves that you need to make to clear the obstacle course in your way.
A laser-like focus is a requirement when playing the game, as a lapse of concentration for so much as a second will be enough to bring you to a crashing halt. There are no second chances, as to progress to the next level, you'll need to make a run through the current stage without dying, while destroying as many targets as you can.
It's fortunate, then, that you can switch from 'normal' mode to 'practice', which strips away a lot of the distracting visual flair and lets you to play each course with checkpoints. This allows you to attempt tricky segments over and over until you've got them imprinted into your memory, which is a God send for practicing those rarely reached later zones of a stage.
Taking all your practice sessions and translating them into a successful run is another matter, though, as recalling the correct move with very little time to think can be horribly difficult. In addition, the game's difficulty increases on a near vertical gradient, and with only a tutorial level available to learn the ropes, it doesn't take long before frustration starts to set in.
While it's easy to lament the game's difficulty, the release at least gets the most important thing right: the controls. Letting you use just about every part of the controller to move your craft – whether it's the d-pad or the triggers – you'll be able to find a method that feels right for you. As a result, you can't blame the inputs for your failures, with the game instead laying bare your own slow reflexes.
Your own shortcomings aside, the level of perfection that the title is looking for does seem a little extreme. You'll need to play stages many times over to get into your head the required sequence of moves, forcing them in through rote memorisation. When you do finally make it to the finish line, you'll feel a strong sense of elation, but it'll probably be more out of relief than satisfaction.
There are attempts to lighten the mental burden through the repetition of obstacle and target placement throughout stages. This at least helps you to get into a rhythm, but it would have been nice to have a soundtrack that provided more cues. The audio and visual elements just don't feel that cohesive, with the drum and bass tracks feeling more like background music than an integral part of the gameplay.
Cosmophony has no respect for any of your past gaming achievements: it just wants perfection – and by God is it going to get it from you. This all or nothing approach will certainly appeal to the masochistic gamers out there who revel in a real challenge. However, with only five stages and an absence of any way to tailor the difficulty, everyone else will have called time on this decent rhythmic shooter way before the DJ finishes his set.