Arcade shooters can come in a couple of styles- those that take a specific game mechanic and explore it with a laser-focus, and those that offer the player a huge number of tools to get past its challenges. Cosmonator falls into the latter category, with a scoring system based on gems that are used to upgrade the ship any way you’d like. It landed on Greenlight the other day with a huge demo on itch.io, and after taking a bit to get past a slightly-too-gentle easing in to the action the game starts feeling a lot like the sequel Tyrian never had. There’s only the one ship to choose from but the upgrade options and secondary abilities allow you to create a number of builds to tear through it’s constantly-increasing difficulty, whether that be focusing on the main gun and side-options or creating a spell-casting beast of destruction.
Each level has a cash reward for completing it, plus enemies frequently drop money when shot. This can be spent in a number of stores that open up as you progress, powering up guns, shields, damage resistance, missile capabilities, and the secondary abilities tagged as spells. How a spaceship casts magic is left to the player to figure out, but the results provide a strong amount of flexibility in the destruction of the alien menace. Abilities are divided between offense and support, and you can as many as you like to call upon at a time. Cycling through abilities in the middle of heavy shooting action isn’t a great idea, though, so it’s best to find a couple of each type you like and specialize, especially seeing as you can’t afford everything. The power-up system runs deep, the challenge ramps up nicely to take advantage of the player learning how to exploit it, and the levels keep coming up with new enemies and challenges to keep you on your toes.