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Cosmonious High review: Be cool, stay in space school

Owlchemy Labs latest virtual reality romp might be the most fun and family-friendly VR game from the studio yet.

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Owlchemy Labs has been around the block a few times in regards to good virtual reality design. Job Simulator, Vacation Simulator, and Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality have all been increasingly good dives into what VR can do. That said, its latest venture might be both its most ambitious and broadly appealing yet. Cosmonious High puts players in the role of a new kid in school… in space, with colorful aliens, everything breaking down frequently, and special powers with which to take your classes and fix it all! It’s a bright and cheerful romp and one of the few VR games I’d happily recommend to players of most ages.

It ain’t easy being Prismi

Cosmonious High feels like Owlchemy Labs’ most expanded approach to VR storytelling yet. Players take on the role of a being known as a Prismi as they get set to attend their first day at Cosmonious High. It’s a prestigious high school that accepts various species from around the galaxy to attend. That said, the school is quite thoroughly automated and all of that automation seems to be failing right as you arrive. Your bus crashes into the Creativity Wing, meteors are hitting the Grand Hall, and all sorts of electrical, plumbing, and fire incidents are breaking out around the school.

Fortunately, as a Prismi, your primary quality is adaptation. When stress overtakes you, you gain a new power to adapt to and solve whatever’s causing the problem. That leads you to be one of the most in-demand new kids in a school full of problems. It doesn’t absolve you of your classwork though. You might help out with fixing up the school, but you still have to go to classes and complete assignments for credit.

Cosmonious High is a very colorful school with a very colorful cast of characters to go with it. Right from the get-go, there’s Fren who is just a cheerful pal to be around. There’s also the jocktastic Honk, the mopey goth Gleg, the shy and nerdy Blort, the energetic Speks, the scientific, to-the-point Professor Roscope, just to name a few. Cosmonious High’s cast is a fun crew and you’ll be getting to know them all quite thoroughly as you continue your studies and aid them.

Adapting to your first day

As mentioned before, you take on the role of a Prismi in Cosmonious High. What does that mean? Well, it means that as different situations push you to your limits, you’ll develop unique powers to deal with them. It all starts with crashing your bus into the school and the bus catching on fire, which leads to you being able to shoot water out of your hands. Later powers include things like ice breeze, enlarging and shrinking targeted objects, grabbing things from a distance and more. You can assign a different power to each hand and switching between them is as simple as poking the back of your hand and selecting them from a power wheel.

You’ll also find all sorts of ways to interact with the school outside of your powers. Classrooms aren’t just for show in Cosmonious High. In Alchemistry, I mixed different fluids with heat and my cold powers to create new substances. In art, I threw different colored little planetoids at canvases to create different projects. I also dunked my hands in paint and used my water powers to utilize whatever color I had touched. Over in the Weights and Measures Wing, I used a “planetizer” with different elemental combinations to create different types of miniature worlds. I even got a camera and went around taking pictures of my friends and teachers for the school yearbook between classes. Cosmonious High is filled with activity inside and outside classrooms, and that’s when you’re not even putting out fires or sealing off leaking pipes along your way. The school is entirely connected and you can explore and head for classes to finish assignments at your leisure.

It's also very easy to get around the game. Moving around the school is relegated to teleportation, which is okay. On the Quest 2, you move your joystick forward to point at and target where you’d like to land. Letting go of the joystick gets you there. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any means for smooth movement in Cosmonious High’s options, but you can adjust a lot of stuff in the world for your height or whether or not you’re sitting down, which is kind of nice. Want to move through a door to a new location? You just set your teleport target on the door and it will automatically take you in when you confirm the teleport.

That said, I was also a little iffy on momentum-based interactivity in the game. There’s a part where you have to throw balls through hoops and one in particular was just an absolute butt to get to. You have a backpack that allows you to interact with your inventory, options menu, and other progress tracking stuff in the game and you access it by reaching over your shoulder, so anytime I wound up to throw something, it would sometimes think I wanted to check my backpack. I was able to work around it by flicking my wrist in front of me to throw things, but it was still one of the game’s very few frustrating points.

The amount of interactivity between your powers, the props of the world, and the way these things all go together was an almost constant delight in Cosmonious High. Nothing was ever too difficult to accomplish and, on the contrary, the charming characters around the school made moving forward and interacting with them a regular delight. I particularly like that you can interact with other characters by actually waving at them or gripping near your mouth to pull out a speech bubble to ask them questions. It really makes interaction an interesting experience.

Cosmonious High times

Throughout my time with Cosmonious High, I was regularly delighted by the colorful visuals, fun cast, interesting classes, and overall variety of activities in the game. Not only is this a solidly expanded adventure from the delightful experiences Owlchemy Labs has shown us in the past, but I think it’s the first time I’d ever specifically recommend a VR game to younger players. VR can be such a niche hobby, but Cosmonious High has all the charm and cheek of a good Nickelodeon kids show. Nothing is ever too complicated and you’re never tied down to a single task if you’d rather go explore something else. Put this altogether and Cosmonious High is a stellar VR adventure that can be enjoyed by pretty much anyone.


This review is based on a digital Meta Quest 2 copy of the game provided by the publisher. Cosmonious is available now on Meta Quest 2 and SteamVR.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at tj.denzer@shacknews.com and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

Review for
Cosmonious High
8
Pros
  • Bright and colorful school to explore
  • Charming and fun cast of characters
  • Wide variety of powers that can be swapped per hand
  • Solid range of school activities with and without powers
Cons
  • Slightly lacking in VR movement and interface options
  • Momentum-based activities can be difficult
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