Game review by
Michael Lafferty, Common Sense Media
Cosmonautica Game Poster Image
Space trading meets The Sims but hauls in repetitive play.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Complete missions, get paid, get a better ship, get better missions.

Positive Role Models & Representations

As captain, it's up to you to take care of your crew, successfully manage missions, needs of crew members, and make certain they get along.

Ease of Play

Although some in-game tips, no real tutorial; players thrown into game quickly. But concept easy to understand, simple controls.


Minor violence with spaceships firing at one another; mildly cartoonish.


References to nudism being "mandatory" on certain planets; when characters use the bathroom, a black block appears over them, similar to the way The Sims blurs images. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some content takes place in a bar; some stations feature "narcotics," but use not shown.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Cosmonautica is a downloadable space-trading simulation game. Think of it as a space-faring version of The Sims. You put together a crew, try to build a ship that suits their needs, and hope they get along long enough to run trading missions to increase your individual wealth, which leads to bigger and better ships and crews. The game has some tongue-in-cheek references to pop culture and narcotic usage, although nothing is shown. Crew members are hired in a bar, but that's the extent of drinking or drug references. Similarly, though some planets seem to have a "naked-only" requirement, nothing is shown in these locations. Some players may find the game to be somewhat frustrating because there isn't a tutorial, meaning you'll have to experience a lot of trial and error before you fully understand how to best run your ship.

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What's it about?

COSMONAUTICA is all about trading in space as well as crew management. It has a few tongue-in-cheek references to pop culture (your first mission is to transport a wall hanging of some smuggler frozen in carbonite to a movie set -- hello, Star Wars!), but the majority of the play is based on space trading, satisfying supply and demand ideals, and upgrading both the ship and crew. Players start out with a clunky ship, then run missions (some with time limits) so they can afford better vessels. 

Is it any good?

Cosmonautica has a lot of the right elements in place: solid graphics, oddball characters, an interface that's easy to navigate, and nice pacing that makes it an enjoyable ride. The game allows players to recruit the crews of their choice and lets you watch them meander around the ship handling daily tasks, similar to the way The Sims lets players become a voyeur of the lives of other people. You also can adjust work and time-off schedules, but you have to be careful because an overworked crew is a cranky crew. The biggest problem, though, is that Cosmonautica quickly becomes repetitious, driving relentlessly toward the goal of being the biggest, baddest space trader to roam this quadrant of space the game calls home. Plus, once the end game is reached (which takes some time), there's really nowhere to go.

Players can invest in bigger ships and build a nice fleet, but this doesn't take a lot of time away from the game's main thrust: running trade missions. Of course, since you have to traverse the galaxy, players will inevitably run into raiders and pirates, which is why it's wise to invest in good engines and better guns when space and finances allow for it. The flying/space-combat element provides a nice break in the trade and crew-management action; though combat is handled simply, it provides a nice diversion and a more rounded playing experience. Overall, the repetition of trading tasks may limit the game, but it's still somewhat fun, and there are a few chuckles along the way. Cosmonautica doesn't take itself seriously, and that's always refreshing. It just could've been better, especially if it had a bigger sandbox or more dynamic, procedural content.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the laws of supply and demand. How can people use those concepts to increase personal wealth? Does this game teach you anything about supply and demand that can be applied in real life?

  • Parents can talk to their children about the lessons and benefits of playing adventure simulations: what's good about them, what's not so good, and what could be better. This can evolve into a conversation about elements that are placed in a game but have no real value to the overall experience (such as a pop-up text message that states a crew member is "taking a dump"). 

  • Parents also can talk about the importance of balancing screen time with physical activity to sustain a healthy lifestyle. 

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love simulations

Themes & Topics

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