Capsized (PC review)   Leave a comment

Developed by: Alientrap Games Inc.
Published by: Alientrap Games Inc.
Out now
Reviewed on: 26th May, 2011.

Presentation: Stunningly beautiful, especially given its independent origins. The graphics display a complex and rich alien world that has been rendered by hand so lovingly that the visuals sometimes make it hard to see the gameplay. The effects and music are likewise really well done and I cannot criticise the immaculate presentation of the game.

Atmosphere: The atmosphere is akin to other indie games centred of a strange alien environment such as CreaVures or Aquaria, except with a much more aggressive approach to dealing with problems. It has an FPS influence in the controls and is a lot more combat-focussed.

Control and Mechanics: A gamepad can be used in a way similar to a dual-stick shooter, but normally a keyboard mouse combination typical of mainstream FPS games is used.

Who should buy this: Those who want a beautiful, well-made and very robust side-scrolling shooter with a lot of gameplay options and game modes. Those who like both FPS and 2D platform games and want some combination of the two. Those who don’t mind sudden increases in difficulty.

Who should avoid it: Those who don’t like the FPS control system. Those who want more innovation in their games. Those who want something that stays more casual.

If I have to give a score: A beautiful, well thought-out game that does nothing new but has everything it takes from elsewhere polished to a sheen and will provide a lot of replay value 3/4.

Review

Capsized is, on one level, the same sort of game as Plain Sight in that it is a good indie game that I don’t think will get continued long-term play. Most people will pick this up and really enjoy it, because it’s a great game, but put it down after a few months of play. It was a shame when this happened to Plain Sight because that was being expanded after release and has nothing to offer casual players except mediocre bots. Capsized has a sizable single-player element that saves it from this unfortunate fate.

The premise is simple enough: you have crash landed on an alien world with only your space suit and a basic laser gun to protect you from the beautiful, but hostile, environment as you attempt to save your crew mates and search for an escape. The first thing you’ll notice about the game beyond the clichéd premise is the world really is beautiful. It’s hand-drawn and high-resolution, and it really pays off. One criticism I’ve seen in other reviews is that the beautiful green haze of the world makes it harder to see the action as it’s going on, but I’ve found this criticism odd. True, sometimes it is very hard to see where the enemies are, but they are creatures from this alien environment, native to it; your character bumbles in so contrasted to the rest of the world. This strikes me as an intended feature, not a bug and I don’t really fault it for that.

Besides the visuals, the music really does deserve praise too. It has a sense of mystery and wonder to it and the overall effect seems to capture something of the spirit of 16-bit era games from the Amiga. This helps evoke the overall sense of the sublime, but terrifying, experience of a beautiful alien world.

What really counts, though, is gameplay and the game stands solidly there. There is nothing new here, no innovative mechanics, your character moves about to tough-to-reach ledges via tricks like a jetpack or a grappling hook that can also be used to pull obstacles; you are ambushed by enemies and fight them off via a selection of futuristic weapons like short-range, area affect weapons or sniping laser beams.

The main campaign follows through a set of levels about finding and rescuing crew before finding out how to escape. It’s not too interesting a plot, but it serves the function of offering a nail upon which to hang gameplay. The game itself is immensely enjoyable and offers a variety of different challenges and levels for you to traverse.

Beyond that, there are several extra gameplay modes that extend the life of the game. True to the FPS influence, there are multiplayer modes and bot matches as well as others, including single-player modes.

My main criticism of the game comes from the relative simplicity of the enemy AI in this game. Neither the bot matches nor the main game were particularly advanced in their use of AI, alien enemies would often stand there blasting at where I was as I finding a way to sneak attack and the bots didn’t offer any real challenge compared to human opponents. More than that, some traps in the game were just downright unfair and couldn’t be realistically detected before already eating at your life bar. Besides that, there was also the controls which would benefit from compatibility with a wider variety of controllers (but as this is also an Xbox 360 game, it doesn’t surprise me) and to be a bit more responsive.

These are all minor criticisms, though. For the very low price it is being sold at on Steam, this is a solid game that offers a vast, stunning world and more than repays the original investment in fun and may even merit a return for the occasional evening of gaming. A solid shooter platformer with a beautiful visual layout.

Capsized is out now and available on Steam for £5.99

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