It’s a hardcore genre made pleasingly straightforward in Cosmos Rings. In fact, the game can play on its own most of the time without your interaction or even oversight: The God of Time will swing his sword every few seconds, clear through the monsters in each area, and then face a tough Reaper of Time boss at the end of each in-game hour. You will need the Watch screen on for those bosses and during the last three minutes of each play attempt, but otherwise there’s gradual progress being made while you’re in a meeting or taking a nap. That’s handy.
The bright-on-black aesthetic looks great on the little OLED display.
At the start, each campaign lasts for 30 minutes of real time—once the timer ticks down, the God of Time falls and his quest begins anew at the start. However, you’ll earn experience points all the while, which can be used to enhance your sword’s power, permanently buy more minutes for your timer, or even add special abilities that can be chained together with powerful results. Over time, these little upgrades help you push further and further with each new attempt, unlocking more of the game.
And if you actually pay the game a small amount of attention, rather than just letting it exist on your wrist, then the rewards and progress are significantly amplified.
To be honest, I didn’t even realize there was an active component at first—Cosmos Rings’ concise instructions on the Watch aren’t always super clear, nor are they complete. You can find out plenty more via the Help section on the iPhone app, but in the moment, I figured the extent of my active tinkering was simply picking the right upgrades and abilities over time and starting new adventures as needed. Not true!
In battle, you can tap the screen to bring up your skill relics, which recharge and rotate into view when available—and tapping each one adds, for instances, a massive power boost to your next attack. Keep tapping these skills in succession and you’ll create even more damaging chain attacks, which help you clear through monsters at a much faster clip.
Choosing upgrades, reading story snippets, and turning back time are also part of the Cosmos Rings equation.
Better yet, you can unlock additional skill slots to extend your chains, which ultimately makes active play even more rewarding over time. But it also becomes more necessary, it seems, otherwise the higher-level enemies will take ages to defeat if you’re just watching rather than actually interacting. It’s an interesting approach that not only eases you into the game’s mechanics, but also quickly shows you the benefits of playing your moment-to-moment role.
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