Platform(s): PC, iPad, Linux, OS X, XBLA
Review Platform: XBLA
Release Date: July 5, 2013 (Consoles)
You’d think that the 2-D platformer genre has been thoroughly exhausted by now, especially with the indie renaissance reviving old-fashioned game mechanics and re-introducing an era long forgotten. But spend only fifteen minutes with Capsized and you’re quickly reminded that certain traditions transcend time. The fundamental roots of the olden days provide a flawless blueprint for creative freedom and it’s games like this that continue invigorating the formula beyond its aging principles. Capsized emanates nostalgia. It’s comfortably familiar…but also innovative and refreshing. It strikes a perfect balance between the old and the new. It’s challenging, it’s beautiful…and most importantly, it’s memorable.
You’re a space explorer whose ship crash-landed on a mysterious planet and you must fight your way through bizarre alien life forms and menacing environments. Capsized carries its narrative with charming illustrations and a fantastic soundtrack reminiscent of Massive Attack. One the surface, it’s a simple run-and-gun platformer, but its Metroid-inspired level designs and puzzle elements provide enough diversity to keep things interesting throughout.
The levels offer various objectives, from destroying mysterious alien idols and rescuing your mates, to simply getting out alive. Traversing the lush, perilous landscapes is no easy task. You’re attacked from all sides and some enemies latch onto your suit and drain your energy. You’re equipped with a hover pack that needs constant refueling, a plethora of weapons scattered throughout the levels, and a grappling hook that let’s you pull/drag objects and hang from ledges. Your arsenal may be varied and powerful, but your enemies are deadly and unforgiving.
The physics based combat takes a little while to get used to. The right analog stick controls the direction of your shots and it’s a bit tricky to aim when surrounded by enemies. There’s a lock-on button, but it’s practically useless since enemies have to be really close for it to work. Luckily, there are enough weapons and power-ups lying around so the game never feels unfair. The puzzles are about manipulating objects in the environment to reach certain areas and uncover secrets/collectibles. Your hook can pull massive rocks to clear passageways and you can even swing around from ledge to ledge spider-man style.
The unique control elements are commendable, but there are a few quirks and annoyances. Imprecise aiming aside, objects tend to get “stuck” in the environment requiring full level-restarts. On a rescue level where I had to carry fellow shipmates back to the safe-zone, they managed to get stuck behind rocks and parts of the scenery and I couldn’t pull them out. On another occasion I was dragging massive orbs to destroy alien idols and my character ended up stuck “inside” the orb, unable to escape. These are just minor gripes, however, and they don’t really compromise the overall experience.
The game boasts a charismatic painterly aesthetic that’s accompanied by a superb soundtrack. The illustrative style is impressively detailed and colorful while the trance-like audio is serene and ethereal. Each level is delicately designed with plenty of hidden areas to explore…but it’s a shame that the game lasts no longer than 3-4 hours.
|Final Score||“Nostalgic Gem”||8.0|
Beautifully painted environments. Capsized is a real visual treat.
Conceptually, the mechanics are superb, but the transition from PC to console isn't as smooth, or as responsive, as it could've been.
It's only about four hours long if you try collecting all the secrets...but it's also only ten bucks. Definitely worth every penny.
Incredible. If you like Massive Attack or similar music, you will LOVE the game's soundtrack.
Review by Tin Salamunic
Tin Salamunic is the founder of The Game Scouts. He is a Video Game Journalist during the day and illustrator by night. He's been obsessed with video games since the early NES days, collecting every major system and game on the market. Video games are the reason he pursued the illustration career and he hopes to be creative director for a video game company one day. All Articles by Tin