Have You Played… Cobalt?


Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

Cobalt had two ideas that make it one of the best arena shooters I’ve played: automatic time slowing, and a roll button that deflects bullets. There’s a single player/co-op campaign, though when I played that was only there in bare-bones form. Not that it mattered, because the multiplayer was fantastic.

In Cobalt, time slows down based on how many projectiles are near a player. It’s like Max Payne’s bullet time without the hassle of having to press a button, and no resource meter to worry about. It means that every time you try to shoot someone, they’ll have the chance to deal with it – which is awesome, because Cobalt also gives you one of the best defensive/offensive tools I’ve seen in a game.

Combat rolls are nothing new, but slow-motion combat rolls that deflect bullets back at your attacker are a game-changer. Of course, your opponent may well counter with a roll of his own – resulting in tense duels where timing and psychology play an even more important role than aiming.

Oh, and did I mention you can punch rockets out of the air?

The multiplayer-only followup, Cobalt WASD, came out last month, and mysteriously did away with that deflective combat roll. I think that makes it the only sequel that’s managed to both add a grappling hook and be a far inferior game.


  1. brunoloff says:

    It is truly sad what they did to Cobalt. I was a huge fan of the game and even wrote a steam guide called “mastering cobalt”.

    The jewel of Cobalt was online deathmatch. The skill ceiling was very high and it was extremely pleasurable to play.

    Except for occasional lag issues, lack of dedicated servers, and near zero maintenance from the dev team, which together with a hefty price tag of 20 EUR/USD, made sure that a few months after the launch the player base was down to near zero.

    That was sad in itself, but then came Cobalt WASD. It is finally internet ready and decently priced. What a pity that the gameplay is so pathetically worse than Cobalt itself. Cobalt was a true masterpiece of game making, a great game: original, fun, and deep.

    Cobalt WASD is a bad immitation of liero, and all it shares with the original are the cutesy robot graphics. The visual similarities are but a constant reminder of how less fun it actually is to play.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      I cannot agree more. I also stopped playing after each iteration of the alpha/beta proved to add nice new features, but ruin any of the previous ones that were fantastic. (Such as adding time trial puzzle levels, but taking out predictable fixed jumps for fully simulated but buggy “physics” jumping). Or changing it from survival based or mission/level based gameplay to try and fail to jump on the “defender of the arena” bandwagon way to late to the party.

      The article also mentions the time slow down and defensive roll, which again were tweaked to death. Sad to hear they took the rolling out entirely for the latest release. :(

    • anon459 says:

      I found the original cobalt to be maybe the deepest and most satisfying platforming shooter I’ve played, but couldn’t find players to fight just days after release, so I gave up trying. Maybe I should’ve tried different times, because now that I’m hearing there were a few players after all, I’m really feeling like I missed out.