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“Are you bored with your life on Earth? Do you look to the stars in your spare time wishing to seek out new life forms? Then join the SPACE FORCE, komrade. We offer life like no other – drones, potatoes, and vodka! And you, dear komrade, will get to be one step ahead of the Capitalists!”

Pfft! What a load of Communist propaganda. They didn’t tell me that the job was that of a potato peeler. Day in and out, all I do is peel these potatoes, and having Bill Nighy narrate my predicament doesn’t help either. Should have joined the Ground Force… wait, what’s that? Approaching footsteps? I’m not done with the breakfast batch yet. I need more-

“Komrade, you’ve been reassigned. Report to Room two-three-seven.”

Yes, that’s right. Our poor potato peeler has been reassigned to drone piloting in order to assemble modular blocks and build… spaceships!  This is what Pixel Delusion’s physics-based space puzzler is all about. Kosmokrats, the zero-gravity Soviet space adventure, the only videogame that features zero gravity drone piloting, of course, but also… Space Communists, Space Capitalism, Artificial Intelligence, vodka, potatoes, and a huge branching storyline, narrated by the beloved Bill Nighy!

Infinity and Beyond!

The main guy responsible for the drone assembly is absent and the Kommandant needs some urgent spaceships. But wait, Nuclear War has begun between the Communists and the Capitalists along with an inevitable space race in search of new worlds to settle on. What’s worse, the main guy responsible for drone piloting is now dead! Now it’s up to our dear peeler to keep assembling spaceships using his potato-shaped drone, and yes, make crucial decisions along the way that will branch the storyline in numerous ways. For example, at one point you can choose to save a scientist or the engineer, or both, and the narrative will branch out accordingly. You can betray your Kommandant (willingly or ‘accidentally’) and witness a completely new set of cutscenes. That’s why Kosmokrats has great replayability value – fun for the whole family.

Kosmokrats is choked to brim with satirical humor that’ll literally crack you up. The dialogues are filled with puns, e.g. when the Soviet fleet accidentally space jumps to a boiling planet, your commanding officer Boris exclaims how they didn’t mention that his fart would ignite at room temperature. Every possible problem is solved with potatoes and vodka and every possible leakage, be it on the cosmonauts’ suits or on the hull of the ships, is sealed with duct tapes. The newspaper on your desk gives a brief about what’s happening around you (even though you can only see the pictures as the texts are all in Russian). But the main attention grabbers are the loading screen texts and the auxiliary monitor above the printer on your right – one displaying texts about existential crisis and another spouting out dad jokes about coding,

Size doesn’t matter, momentum does

Kosmokrats is basically space Tetris where you use your spherical drone to push around modules in zero gravity and make them magnetically connect at correct places. Each module has strategically placed colored connectors to help you to figure out the correct alignment. And therefore each level starts with a deployment phase where you can take your sweet time to figure out the puzzle and plan how you’re going to approach them. Because once you deploy the drone, the clock starts ticking, and you’ve to maneuver taking great care of your momentum. Newton’s 1st Law everyone – an object in motion continues in the same state unless an external force is applied – and that’s why you need to learn where to stop and change directions so that you push the modules towards each other and not away from them. This is far beyond your potato peeling as lack of gravity isn’t your only enemy.

In space, no one can hear you scream

In addition to your drone assembly, Space Force cosmonauts will be doing their field operations and are bound to get in your way. 95% chances that one of them will get crushed either by your drone or in-between the assembly modules. Things get treacherous as the plot thickens as then you’ll be encountering asteroids and turrets, which is another way of saying that the cosmonauts’ mortality rates are going to increase. Irrespective of how good your assembly is going, a stray asteroid will float out of nowhere bumping into everything and the poor cosmonauts are likely to caught in the crossfire as the AI turrets try to blast the space rocks. And these ordeals happen when you’re hurrying to finish up the assembly but time has run out and it’s already caught up in the nearby planet’s gravitational field thus plummeting from orbit with everything around burning up. As you progress further in the story, you’ll encounter space goo that will melt the cosmonauts, slow you down, and damage the modules. So take great care as the learning curve isn’t that steep at all but needs attention.

Smash ’em up!

Look, potatoes and Kartoshkas (in-game currency) are your only means of livelihood. Each day you consume one potato, and therefore if you end up smashing the potato modules via your erratic maneuvers, well, your consumption increases by the number of potatoes you jettisoned. Once Space Force’s storages run out of potatoes, hunger sets in reducing your focus. This means during the deployment phase, everything will be in grey hence preventing you from discerning the colored connectors and figuring out the assembly (you can still look at the modules’ shapes and paint job to figure out). That said, potato storages ain’t the only fragile parts. You’ve got the solar panels, turrets, cockpits, and many more. Damaging them will of course reduce your score and hence the Kartoshkas you earn. Make successful assemblies and your earnings can vary from one to three Kartoshkas (depending upon the choices you make in the story), which you can use to buy meals, provided there are enough potatoes in storage, but also motivational posters, room décor, a calendar, vodka, and 60’s soviet movies and videogames! But save it for the meals as hunger will set even if you’ve enough potatoes in storage when you’re working tirelessly for your Kommandant.

Besides the main campaign, you’ll occasionally have to ‘defrag’ memories, which is a small and easy Tetris jigsaw. Successful defragging will give you an option to choose one out of three perks like increased assembly time or more magnetic charge on drone etc. You can buy a calendar anytime, provided you’ve enough Kartoshkas, to keep track of the weeks you’ve to work after these perks exhaust their duration. The monitor beside the main screen shows all active system statuses like hunger, air leaks (means random air leaks in the modules will push them around), perks, etc., so it’s better to pay attention to it.

Sadly, if you want to restart a mission, you’ve to exit to the main menu then continue. There’s no button to restart the mission which is extremely odd for a puzzle game. Maybe because you can always abandon a puzzle midway and your progress will happen as per your actions – a sense of permanence in gameplay.

Soviet Aesthetic

Kosmokrats has fully animated cutscenes consisting of goofy and minimalist characters. Adding flavor to it is the Slavic English accent (especially that of Boris) that takes the satire to a whole new level. And who can forget Bill Nighy’s narration? You can sit idle in the menu screen and Bill Nighy will utter one-liners like “Umm, I’ve got somewhere I need to be in an hour” or “Like hanging out in the main menu, do you?” Then there’s this dope playlist of synthwave music by Andreas Saag that ramps up the more time you take to assemble. This means once your unfinished assembly starts dropping from orbit, you can literary feel your hands shaking due to the adrenaline-pumping music as you fight against air drag and rush to complete.

Real Talk

You ask me should I recommend Kosmokrats? Absolutely! This game is so much more than a mere physics-based puzzle. The plot is absurd and great with many twists and multiple endings, full of Easter Eggs and references. Even the main mechanism, the ship assembly gets harder as you progress with more intricate modules and cosmic hazards, and later down the line, you’ve to carry out additional tasks amidst the assembly. The dialogues and background score are extremely enjoyable too! All-in-all, Kosmokrats is definitely a great time-killer.


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