Cosmonious High review: back to summer school in the metaverse
Cosmonius High specs
Compatibility: Oculus Quest 2, Steam VR
Cosmonious High is looking to put a brand-new galactic spin on your next Meta experience with a virtual high school simulator to complement Owlchemy Labs’ already-popular Job Simulator and Vacation Simulator titles for the Oculus Quest 2 and Steam VR.
As Laptop Mag’s resident space cadet – and giant child – it seemed only appropriate that I take this VR app for a spin. Besides, going undercover as a new student at an alien high school sounded super fun, and probably less illegal than whatever totally-not-horrifying Never Been Kissed situation I could manage in the real world.
The dev team bills Cosmonious High as a colorfully complex combo of “Sesame Street meets Fraggle Rock,” and as a now-nostalgic human who was born in the mid-80s, that’s pretty much all I needed to hear before accepting this assignment from my editors. Call me impulsive.
Is it time for your family to enroll in Cosmonious High? To find out, I spent an entire afternoon wandering around Owlchemy’s virtual school from my Oculus Quest 2 headset. Read on to see how my alienation education is going.
Cosmonius High price and availability
Released in late March, Cosmonious High is available for both the Oculus Quest 2 and Steam VR platforms; both versions cost $30. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a bargain-bin price for any tuition, since that one-time fee gets you a full ride at an off-planet private school – and five individual IDs, to boot. That’s way cheaper than any study abroad opportunity I had access to back in my university days.
Cosmonius High back to school
When I first opened the app, I entered the lobby/homeroom of Cosmonious High, which, as I took in my surroundings, appears to be a colorful orb floating in space with a yellow spaceship-esque school bus docked to one side. Once I selected a student ID card and scanned my virtual paw, my homeroom teacher informed me that my alien species was called Prismi, which is known for “adapting spontaneously in times of need.” Sounds handy.
I’m the only Prismi at Cosmonious High, said my homeroom teacher, which added an additional layer of uniqueness to my avatar as I navigated the school grounds – err, space. But first, I had to pick out a backpack, check myself out in the mirror, and hop on the bus.
High school is inevitably fraught with drama, and the Owlchemy team wastes no time bringing that drama right to your glowing fingertips. After boarding the quirky, intergalactic school bus, which I activated via key, it zooms right over to Cosmonious High: “where everything is totally fine.” Is it though? Because if my old high school let the kids take the wheel and drive their own bus route when they were picked up every day, I would have grown up to be a career mortician for sure.
No surprise, my bus literally crash-lands into the high school itself, and I have a few fires to put out — literally — before introducing myself to fellow students. It’s cool, though, because as a Prismi, I spontaneously sprouted water-wielding powers when those fires sprang up, which came in pretty – ahem – handy for extinguishing them. Each time you activate a new ability, there’s a Mario 64-esque cutscene to celebrate it, complete with haptic feedback on the controllers.
Certain parts of the school remain locked until you complete various assignments, side quests, and puzzles, which were genuinely fun to figure out as I navigated from one colorful environment to the next. It’s kind of a stimulation overload, to be honest; I could have done for more earth tones, which might be an ironic request, but whatevs. My eyeballs could only handle about 30 minutes of Cosmonious VR at a time. Once the hallway was clear of pesky fires, I meandered my way into Chemosophy class, which already had a few other classmates in attendance.
Bonus: You can dynamically interact with all the colorful characters you encounter, and that includes random high fives. Score!
Cosmonius High classroom activities and puzzles
Unlike my old high school, which was relegated to pesky 45-minute periods every day, it appears you can just wander from one class to another as you please at Cosmonious High, which is awesome, because hall passes suck. In Chemosophy class, I helped one student with an outside-the-box science experiment by using my ice-throwing powers inside a cartoony particle collider.
Next, I followed the teacher’s instructions to create – and then accidentally burn – a substance called Stickium using the “alchemizer” from my cosmic chemistry set. I genuinely had a fun time with these interactive ingredients, which feel like actual chemistry from a jokey alternative universe.
Next, I popped over to Visualetics, which is an aptly named classroom environment where you can make all sorts of interactive art. For example, I picked up some giant paintballs in the Splat Zone and tossed them at the whiteboard on the wall to create some colorful smears — all over the floor. Whoops. Next, I chatted with a nearby student and used my crystal-building power to make them a sword and shield for some unseen adventure they kept teleporting to.
As you complete more classroom assignments and interact with other classmates scattered throughout the game, you gain more access to the various departments of Cosmonious High, all the while getting the hint that something is a little funky with administration. (Also, it’s possible that the school was struck by a meteor just before I arrived. There are actual fires in the hallways, after all.)
In order for me to gain access to the grand hall, I first had to fix the circuitry outside the door with my crystal-building powers. Here’s a video of me figuring this out in real time:
Cosmonius High playability – and jokes!
After a few hours of wandering the halls and experimenting with my alien abilities, I started to see what the Owlchemy team meant by “Sesame Street meets Fraggle Rock.” While your barely literate youngster might have oodles of fun with all those colorful puzzles and classroom experiments, if you look around Cosmonious High for yourself – Pittsburg Dad-style – there are plenty of clever jokes scattered throughout the school to keep your uber-evolved noggin amused. Take this scrolling billboard from the Grand Hall, for example.
These comical Easter eggs might be my favorite part of the game. I definitely caught myself chuckling to myself as I started looking for new jokes in each room. Good news: the nerdier you are, the funnier you’ll find each school day. (Not to mention the quirky announcements in the background.) And not for nothing, but this title is rated E10+ for crude humor, so I expect the writing to remain consistently clever as you unlock the rest of Cosmonious High with your alien classmates. The ESRB takes their fart jokes quite seriously, after all, and I should know.
The high school experience would be nothing without Taco Tuesday, so in the spirit of my little alien adventure, I brown-bagged some tacos to snarf in between classes. Experimenting with intergalactic science builds up an appetite, after all.
Cosmonious High is a clever interactive take on the human high school experience, and it’s a surprisingly immersive one. Owlchemy Labs says this is the biggest interactive playground they’ve built so far, which gave me plenty of room to stretch my Prismi torso and show off those alien powers with aplomb.
If you’d like to trade a high school simulation for something faster and more furious, check out our hands-on preview of F1 22, a racing sim that brings pedal-to-the-metal immersion to your VR headset. Looking for something more cinematic? Trek to Yomi is a more mature title that’s steeped in authentic Japanese culture. We’re always testing out the best PC games, so check back with our reviews page often to see what’s new.
At the end of the (school) day, Cosmonious High fits right in with the rest of Owlchemy Labs’ library of playful simulations – making it fun to be the “new kid” for once – and it brings something to the table for aliens of all ages.