May 5, 2011
Space is a scary place as portrayed by many form of science fiction media. From Ridley Scott’s Alien quadrilogy to Nintendo’s Metroid series, we are given images of savage creatures and sentient beings who have no regard for the unfortunate humans that come across them. Fear, loathing, and unfamiliar territory drive the player’s motivation to survive at all costs. Capsized is a return to an era in games where problem solving was key to the experience. This is something I feel is lost in the modern era of commercial gaming… I feel that a good deal of modern games forget that the point of a game is to offer a challenge at the same time as being fun. Let’s proceed to assess Alientrap Games’ creation and examine if it has managed to hit the sweet spot between fun and challenging.
The narrative in Capsized begins with a story illustrated in comic panels showing a spaceship cruising through the stars. As tends to be the cast in pretty much all sci-fi stories, misfortune occurs when an asteroid pierces the craft’s hull and the crew is forced to evacuate onto a nearby planet. Of course it just so happens the planet is full of hostile wildlife and the natives are most than slightly restless. Your job as the hero is to find survivors and get home safely. Each chapter opens with an additional set of comic panels which set the mood for the mission ahead The presentation is great and skimps on any extra fluff keeping the player engaged at all times.
Capsized has a campaign mode and arcade mode as well. The arcade mode is comprised of several different modes that are unlocked after meeting certain conditions in the campaign proper. The available modes are Bot Match, Time Trial, Survival, Armless, and Duel. Bot Match is your standard deathmatch against computer controlled opponents. Time Trial and Survival are pretty self explanatory. Armless is a challenge mode where the player has to find a way to get to the end of a level without the use of weapons. Duel is a 2 player split-screened deathmatch on a local machine. These singleplayer offerings aside, the campaign mode is the bulk of the game and also the gateway to unlock these extra modes. There are four difficulties and the merit of going higher up on the scale are more stars for unlocking the extra modes faster. With the campaign mode, the player is graded on speed, secrets found, difficulty, and number of deaths. Campaign may also be played cooperatively, but the option must be enabled in the Options menu.
Capsized involves Metroid-style platforming as well as physics-based puzzles which require solid critical thinking. The game’s first few levels introduce the player to core concepts and the basic use of skills to solve puzzles. Scattered through each level is gear such as additional weapons and jet pack fuel to help the player in their journey. Each weapon has an alternate fire mode for different take-down situations that the player may encounter. There are also short-term power-ups scattered around some levels as well. However there is a technicality with the primary gear and weapons. Unlike most games where you typically keep your gear from previous levels, you start clean and fresh at the start of each chapter. The jet-pack fuel also resets at the start of each level and the player only gets infinite fuel if you pick up all the fuel items to fill your meter up. Also the player is given a number of lives to finish a mission and if those are lost it’s “game over” and the player may re-attempt the mission after a short break or take a gander at some of the newly unlocked arcade modes they may have earned. As you can expect, the guys at Alientrap Games have thoughtfully planned out the puzzles and their difficulty does ramp up gradually as the game progresses.
Overall Capsized presents itself as a fun, albeit short game. The extra modes in the game are nice bonuses as well as offering an extra challenge for those who want to give their minds some exercise. Anyone who is a fan of Metroid-style platforming and doesn’t mind solving puzzles should definitely take a look at Capsized. Capsized is available on Steam for PC for $9.99 and I definitely feel the price is well worth it. There’s even a demo for the game so everyone should check it out and give it a try.
Out Of 5
The hand drawn style of the game goes very well with the comic panel presentation of the story. The weapons look great with a semi-3D style and are comparatively as flashy as their destructive potential. The HUD is easy to read and presents pertinent information in a simple manner. The touch of the HUD cracking the more damaged the player's character condition becomes is a nice touch and really emphasizes how dire the situation is.
The music is haunting and really sets the mood of how desperate the situation for the player. The guns are a little on the generic side, but I think the mood of the music is the real star as far as the sound criteria goes.
The keyboard/mouse controls are well thought out and responsive. They are oddly intuitive for a 2D side scrolling action platforming game and the customization options are great. For those that want the old fashioned nostalgia of playing Metroid, gamepad use is available although the game does not auto-detect if you are using a controller. The gamepad controls aren't bad and are a case of your mileage may vary. For cooperative and competitive play, the choices for controls are keyboard/mouse and gamepad or 2 gamepads.
Capsized is a short game, but incredibly fun while it lasts. Most of the joy comes from solving challenging puzzles while fending off vicious enemies. The scoring system will keep some players coming back in an obsessive fit to beat their best while the cooperative mode is a nice addition to the campaign mode. The bonus arcade mode options are nice extras for players who want to completely challenge themselves. The creative use of physics great to see and offers a genuinely fun way to play a platforming game. The progressive difficulty of the puzzles and enemies is fair and well thought out to boot.
I felt the combination of platforming and puzzle solving were great. Application of physics for both puzzle solving and defense is a blast.