Kometen (iPhone)

By: Derek Yu

On: May 28th, 2010


[This is a guest review by tim_the_tam. If you’re interested in writing an article for TIGSource, please go here.]

What is a game? Does it have to be something fun to play? Do you need to be able to win or lose? Does it need a clear objective? Is it a series of choices? Kometen is a “game” that will mess with some people’s ideals of what a game is, which is no surprise coming from the guy who made Blueberry Garden. It’s because Kometen is not a “traditional” game as you can’t win or lose – there is no conflict, no official goals, and no way to die. Personally, I consider Kometen a game but I can also see an argument for it to be an interactive screensaver. But let’s not get too bogged down with the definition and for the sake of this article, Kometen is a game.

Kometen is a two-dimensional exploration game that has you playing as a space comet discovering the major planets in the universe. You can find these planets on your own or with the assistance of the guidance/GPS system, which you set to a planet you want to go to. However, like I said before, there is no risk or reward, and no goals apart from being able to see the planet visually. There are also constantly-moving sub planets scattered around the universe. These are sun-like objects which you can use to move around by orbiting their gravitational fields. To do so, you simply tap on the planet you want to move to and physics will do the rest. There are also colorful pieces of space debris orbiting in rings around certain planets. You can eat these by floating over them and by doing so you fill up your boost meter, gaining the ability to speed boost off an orbiting planet to a fixed direction by swiping the screen. Filling the meter up to the maximum gives you a major speed boost which sends you flying at light-year speeds.

These are very simple mechanics with a unique movement scheme that does take some skill to master. The design choice of removing any pressure factors gives this game a very relaxing and ambient feel. If you exit the game, when you return it will be back exactly where you left off making it extremely accessible. If I have any complaints about the gameplay mechanics it’s that I would have liked a way to not use your super speed boost when you meter is full. Also, the game does get very repetitive. Not because all you do is discover planets but because every planet has the same orbiting speed. It would have made it more interesting to explore if the orbiting speeds of planets were slightly varied.

As you can see from the screenshots, the art is wonderful. It has a very pretty water-colored look going on that’s bright, colorful, and soothing to the eye. Each major planet has its own unique artwork drawn on it and you can consider it to be the reward for finding the planet. However, while it’s got a great art style it feels viscerally lacking. The background of a nebula galaxy (or whatever it’s called) is static throughout the game. Also, the sub planets are all graphically identical orange sun like objects – I would have like to see more variety. These two factors inhibit the feel of exploring as it feels like you’re not making any progress. Also, a small complaint that didn’t really effect the game but is worth mentioning: the space debris being shapes and sushi felt like an awkward juxtaposition of the motifs of space and food and the cel-shaded look of them goes against the water-colored art style.

Sound-wise, it has some nice sound effects and are used well in the game. But the main looping sound track feels like a wrong choice of music. It’s a happy up-tempo track, but I think it would have been better if the game had an ambient music score as it would work better with the relaxed nature of the game.

Kometen is a nice game to play and chill to. It’s a great example of an exploration game that you explore for exploration’s sake, something that is rarely done well in this medium. It has a pick-up-and-play nature that’s also great to just sit around for an hour and be hypnotized with. I’d like to say it’s for everyone but I know some people are going to get turned off as it’s not a game in a traditional sense. But if you can look past the repetitiveness of the in-game universe it’s worth a purchase.

However, I do recommend waiting for an update that makes the universe more varied and interesting to explore… which looks to be the case, according to Erik’s blog.

  • Sergio

    I wish this didn't begin with “what is a game?”

  • aregamesart

    christ, not this debate again…

  • rinkuhero


  • http://www.lockeddoorpuzzle.com Perrin

    I third that. Also wish it didn't end with telling people not to bother until there's more added. Why spend so many paragraphs describing that much detail if you're not wiling to recommend people spend a couple of bucks on it. :(

  • http://glitchedgames.blogspot.com/ Ashton

    yeah I didn't really bother to read the rest of it

  • True Hitoare

    What is a game? A miserable pile of secrets!

  • rinkuhero

    i haven't played the game but i'm a big fan of blueberry garden so i'll probably buy it if i get an iphone or ipad touch or something. the review didn't put me off from it. it's just that the review seems to be written in a way that would discourage a lot of people from buying it.

    i think the tigsource audience is used to games without gameplay that focus on exploration by now; we've posted about knytt, small worlds, and many other games of this sort. so there's really no need to go into detail about whether it is a game or not or warn the player that it's not a goal-based game, merely mentioning that is enough. hopefully in his next guest review (if he does any more) he'll focus more on the game.

  • itiscoming

    How are knytt and small worlds not goal based?

  • Paint by Numbers

    Hey, guys. I'm a total noob here so, anyway, I was just wondering, do you guys think games are art?

    Think it over and get back to me.

  • falsion

    please don't even start

  • rinkuhero

    they all have nominal goals where the game ends, but the real goal of the game isn't to finish it, but to spend time exploring it all. i think this game has a similar setup. so they have goals, but playing small worlds and knytt in a goal-based way (rushing to go places, not spending the time to look around you at the world) would be missing the point. but perhaps this game has no end-game state?

  • tim_the_tam

    wow so much hate.. thanks guys haha. I didn’t mean to spark the “if games are art debate” again. I just thought that I needed to start with something more interesting than “Kometen is such and such..” (which I guess I achieved in a way with all these replies) and I felt that I needed to clarify to the audience who might not have played a game like this before, that the “game factor” of kometen is not traditional in any sense. But upon reflection I should have thought better way to express this without sounding pretentious and like what paul said, I should have considered the tigsource audience of gamers rather than people in general.
    @ perrin I do recommend people buying it. I just think that certain people will get turned off as it’s not a traditional game and it can get very repetitive. But if you can look past that than it’s worth spending a couple of bucks is just that there seems to be a update very soon that will make the gameplay much more interesting and it’s better to hold out until then. Furthermore, games don’t need to feel like they are worth purchasing in ordered to a write a review about them. Reviews are subjective opinions giving you a yay or nay on the purchase based upon the writer’s experience of it.
    @rinkuhero I’d like to think that I also gave a critical perspective as well as a review, a critical review if you will, rather than being discouraging.
    But yeah thanks for the critiques I really appreciate them and keep them coming (seriously they’ll only help me grow). Hopefully you’ll like next piece.
    Also, woooo! Front page! =D

  • tim_the_tam

    Yep that pretty much sums the game up. Exploring a never ending game with no real objective.

  • http://plaidnotion.com Cellulose Man

    One can only hope.

  • http://plaidnotion.com Cellulose Man

    I don't think there's an “are games art” debate here. In fact we're pretty much the primary party in favor of our side of that argument.

  • PhasmaFelis

    I will stab you vigorously.

  • Paint by Numbers

    Guys, I was joking. It was a joke. I was just agreeing with everyone commenting before me by comparing the “what is game?” question to the “are games art?” question.

  • GoSign

    Just to warn you, TIGsource readers

    I don't know if you've seen this before

    but I have here a game that displays rather large “pixels”

    now you may find this strange and foreign, but hear me out, because the game is actually quite good despite its rather “low resolution” graphics.

  • Your name here

    Hey, hey! I know a word for such an objectiveless “game”. It's called a toy.

  • Brahmedinejad

    Games are toys, they're both for children. Trust.

  • Louis F.

    All I keep reading about this makes me wish I had an iPhone.

  • nobody


    if an editor actually posted that, I'd stop reading this site right away.

  • http://www.lockeddoorpuzzle.com Perrin

    Sorry for the negativity. Just seemed to me if you're going to write a guest article pick something you really want to recommend people to play. Rather than hedging your bets and making something sound ho-hum.

    My money would be on the fact that people go to the TIGSource front page looking for recommendations. I guess personally I don't need full on reviews of indie games as much as pointers for things I might like to try.

    Also as has already been said spending so much time talking about it not being a game as such isn't needed because there's going to be loads of people here who don't mind that. Would you write an FPS review and talk about how strategy game players might not be into it? Just explain what it is and people will make their own mind up without the game/notgame debate.

    Also btw, I really think you spent too much time explaining all the mechanics. Games like this you learn it by playing and you're not going to remember it from the review. I think your feelings of how you liked it are more important than wasting time on how the boost meter works.

  • anonymous

    regardless of content, separating articles with a 'more'-tag would be nice so one would not have to scroll for an eternity to get past a post.

  • http://www.derekyu.com Derek Yu

    I agree. Done.

  • Games are not art

    I particularly think that games are not art and will never be art.

  • Mitkebes

    You mentioned your one complaint was that there wasn't a way to not Super boost, but there is a way. If you only do a short drag (instead of a long one) you'll do a regular boost rather than a Super boost.