2023 has swarmed us with quality games. So many that there aren’t enough hours in the day to play them all — and now, Cocoon has crept onto our screens to buzzing acclaim. Fortunately, if you’re busy as a bee, and can’t dedicate time to a marathon game, this is a nice quick one. Jeppe Carlsen, lead gameplay designer of Inside and Limbo, has teamed up with Geometric and Annapurna to unleash this wonderous puzzler. Those who love a good mind-boggler buggler will enjoy curling up in their cocoons for a few hours with it.

You play as a bug-like creature traversing an alien land, completing puzzles to progress. Sometimes you get a drone-type companion who helps break down fences, though it also gets eaten by certain monsters. Then there are the orbs – Cocoon’s point of difference. Each contains a world you can carry around with you, both forming part of puzzles and containing puzzles within. One orb’s land is filled with prismatic crystals, another contains puddles and reeds, another is a gooey membranous underworld.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

You might think this would break your brain, but we’re happy to report our grey matter remains intact, if a little sore. The puzzles are challenging, no doubt, but the worlds-within-worlds isn’t as confusing as it first appears. The game is mostly linear, and its creative UI blocks off areas or retracts items when they’re unnecessary. The character’s little wings also flutter to tell players they can interact with something.

The controls are simple: left analog stick for moving, ‘A’ for interacting. The single yet powerful ‘A’ button enables you to push and pull things, enter and exit worlds, launch yourself off platforms, and more.

You may find yourself a little bug-eyed from the get-go. The tricksy puzzles call for using the orb or drone in creative ways. You have to take multiple orbs from one side to another when you can only carry one (very wolf-goat-cabbage-esque without wolves, goats, or cabbages), memorise symbols, and use the world’s mechanics to your advantage. A puzzle often introduces a function you’ll use again, in different ways. This seamless logic stays consistent throughout, immersing you in the world. Nothing is wasted and there are no red herrings. Of course, that doesn’t mean the answers are obvious.

Even so, the puzzles are unique and satisfying to solve, not least thanks to the dramatic flair whenever something unlocks. Thinking and solving is the hero here, and takes more time than executing. There weren’t many moments where we found a big gap between knowing what to do and actually doing it.

There’s combat too, though it’s contained to battlefields. In each boss fight, you’re chased by a creature that looks like the sci-fi monster version of insects or sea life. They make creepy alien noises and they want to stop you from moving ahead. The combat isn’t difficult, per se, though it may spook the entomophobic. Moreover, it asks you to think on the fly – not an issue if speed and reflexes come easily. You may have to try a few times, and ignore the butterflies in your stomach or frustration when you die (read: thrown out of the orb with no lasting damage). If that is you, we recommend viewing it as a fast-paced puzzle – because the rest of the game is well worth dusting off your wings and fighting again.

Crushing the bugs earns your orbs elevated powers. One allows you to walk on invisible bridges. Another activates lifts that take you up and down. Yet another opens up a shooting mechanic that also takes you back to a previous world.

As with Inside and Limbo, there’s no written word or dialogue, just intuitive visual language – reminding us how much one can say without words. But Cocoon doesn’t have much storyline. We felt it would have been nice to understand a little more about our buggy friend and their aim on this journey. In Limbo and Inside, the lack of dialogue moulded a narrative that pulled us through the play, but that kind of storytelling isn’t present here. It’s a shame, since so much love has obviously been poured into forming this intricate universe.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

That love means the art style soars. The worlds are astounding, the details finessed, and our character cute. Those orbs alone look so real we felt like we could reach out and hold them like marbles. The art matches the gameplay, too: 3D top-down design and geometric shapes. Every orb’s world has its own palette, which helps with orientation, and looks beautiful: peachy pinks, soft greens, pastel purples. These colour schemes are quite different to Inside and Limbo’s monochromes.

But that doesn’t mean Cocoon isn’t as eerie as its spiritual siblings. In fact, the music and sound effects set a decidedly horror/sci-fi tone. We’re talking violin squeaks, howling wind, and low droning white noise. The music crescendos during dramatic moments, building tension, suspense, and heart palpitations, and there’s a synth-y hum to say ‘getting warmer’ or ‘well done!’

Performance is very smooth for the most part. We noticed a slower frame rate when we reached an area where it was raining. Otherwise, Cocoon runs incredibly well on Switch, with no noticeable bugs. Except the characters in the game, that is. The controls are very precise too – things snap to where they need to be, and you don’t really have to aim. The game autosaves but doesn’t indicate that it’s doing this, so if you like a little more control over your saves this may bother you.

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Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

A more significant issue you may have is its extremely quick playtime. While some puzzles might stump you for a good stretch, speedy players will finish it in a session or two. For such a short runtime, some may balk at the asking price ($24.99 / £20.99 / 22,99€ / AUD36.95). If that's the case, you might be better off waiting for a sale and making a beeline for it then.


Cocoon is a fun and addictive puzzler. Its unique mechanics and gameplay had us glued to our screens, and it’s gorgeous to boot. Its lack of story is a minor disappointment, but if you love puzzles and aren't bugged by fast-paced combat, this game will be an easy favourite — even if it flies by all too quickly.