Better Late Than Never: The Review of Capsized
Capsized, Alientrap’s physics-based 2D action platformer, catches your immediate attention with its striking art and catchy soundtrack and never lets go of that attention with its fun and varied combat and movement mechanics.
- Gorgeous and detailed environment bursting with alien eeriness
- Continuous soft techno soundtrack lend your ears a soothing journey throughout
- Combinations of your arsenal offer much variety in your combat and traversal
- Occasional glitches involving the player and objects to be stuck in the environment
- Some non-functional customized controls
- Lack of online integration
- Cooperative play
The start of Capsized is quite simple. You crash-land on this eerie jungle-filled planet due to some unknown reason. You are trying to locate your fellow crew members and get out of this strange and perhaps dangerous planet. The story is told through these cartoon/comic-style panels before each mission starts. Even though there’s no dialogue, the cartoons do a good job of conveying situations and happenings of each mission.
The first observation you will notice is the detailed environment. The developers really let their imagination run wild in their portrayal of an alien planet. The detailed and creepy alien setting is filled with imaginative extraterrestrial shrubberies. The animated insects in the background are a nice touch that adds to the life of the planet. The lighting perfectly enhances the contrast between bright and dark spaces. The lighting is especially well-done in a mission where you are exploring an ancient tribe in an underground cavern in the dark. Your flashlight lights up and exposes the beauty and the color of the environment otherwise seen as a pitch black cave.
As soon as you see the gorgeous background, you will also hear the incredibly immersive soundtrack. Composed by Solar Fields, who also did the soundtrack for Mirror’s Edge, they did a great job creating an authentic soundtrack perfectly suited for the style and tone of the game. The never-intruding techno beats perfectly immense the player with the atmosphere of this mysterious planet. The slow beats of bass and the catchy rhythm of techno subtly play in the background throughout your journey of traversing the planet. If you take a break for a moment from jumping, shooting, flying, you can stop to appreciate the music that is very important to the identity of the game.
After your mind recovers from being blown up by the looks and sounds of the game, you can start playing the game. The first level teaches you all of the abilities and weapons you will use throughout the game. Right from the word “Go”, you will be able to use all of the abilities in the game, which include the Jet Pack, Gravity Hook, Gravity Ram, and Wall Cling. Of course right off the bat, you wouldn’t know how to use all of the abilities in tandem with each other. The Jet Pack and the Wall Cling are self-explanatory: the Jet Pack boosts you in the air for a short period of time and the wall cling allows you to cling to the wall (like Spider Man). The Gravity Hook is a hook that allows you to attach to anything. That includes walls, ceilings, enemies, small boulders, small boulders, and more. When attaching yourself with smaller objects, using the hook with the Gravity Ram, you can shoot off smaller items to solve puzzles, kill enemies, or simply move items out of your way. However, if you attach to a large object or an unmovable wall, you will start to move. Using it as a slingshot or a grappling hook, you will soon be flinging yourself across the map in creative ways. The Gravity Ram is designed to shoot off the items you hooked with your Gravity Hook. However, if you think outside of the box a little bit, then you can use Gravity Ram as a launcher. If you aim at the ground and shoot a Gravity Ram, you will launch yourself high in the air. With some experimenting you will soon find creative ways to defy physics all around the levels.
Speaking of physics, the entire game is built to use realistic physics to add an extra dimension to the combat, platforming, and puzzles of the game. All the objects in the world will behave in realistic ways when you interactive with them. For example, when you shoot off a small stone at the wall, it will be subject to gravity (if there is anything), it will bounce of the wall, and it will roll on the ground until its momentum stops. This might sound like a small thing, but when everything in the world is subject to physics, it definitely adds a new element to the gameplay.
If at any point you feel like the controls just don’t feel right, you can customize it to whatever you want. Capsized also has gamepad support, so if keyboard doesn’t feel nature for you, you have options. From the years of playing platformers and action games, you probably think that a gamepad is ideal for Capsized. Well, not exactly (at least with my experience with the Xbox controller). While the gamepad is completely functional and adequate, the mouse and keyboard counterpart is just slightly more intuitive, more accurate, and better at dealing with the intense combat than the gamepad. Of course, that’s according to my own preference. Regardless which controls you choose, both controls are completely customizable. However, I did run into a glitch on the Xbox 360 controller that some of the customized functions did not work; instead it just used the default buttons for those functions.
What you would be doing the most is shooting dangerous alien creatures that want to kill you and sacrifice you to the gods. To help you in defending yourself, you have an arsenal of weapons. You will always have your trusty pistols with infinite ammo, it’s not very powerful, it’s not much fast, but it does get the job done when you have no other options. Throughout the game you will pick up new guns, such as a high fire rate machine gun, a short range but powerful flamethrower, a powerful but low fire rate laser sniper, and even more outlandish future-tech guns. In additional to your regular fire mode, all of your guns will have a secondary fire mode, and this adds more variety to the combat. For example, for the secondary fire, your machine gun shoots shotgun shells, your pistol allows you to charge and shoot a more powerful shot, and your flamethrower projects a projectile-reflecting barrier. The secondary fire allows freedom and creativity in how you attack or defend from your enemies.
Speaking of enemies, there are ancient aliens that shoot arrows, bullets, rockets, weird alien magic at you, and there are wild alien beasts and insects that want to eat you for breakfast. The aliens vary in size and strength and ability: some have strong armor, some can fly, some can deflect your bullets. The diverse enemies you face forces you to think on your feet and counter their attacks your arsenal of weapons.
Starting each mission, you are given an objective. The mission objective is marked in the lower right hand corner of the screen. The objective could be find your crewmate, find the point of interference and destroy it, kill the mysterious enemy located in the deep cavern, and more. The varied objectives and level designs make each mission a different experience. Most of the level designs are big and open. And there are generally many ways to get through a level. It can be rewarding if you go back and explore the areas you missed the first time.
One problem I did run into was things getting stuck in the terrain. In a few occasions, I was stuck in the terrain when I landed in the ground really fast. In another occasion, a mission-crucial item was stuck in the terrain which caused me to restart the level a few times to complete the objective.
The game’s single player campaign contains 12 missions, which takes about 4 hours to finish. After the completion of each mission, you are scored on how well you did on a mission based on the speed your completion, number of hidden stars you found, number of deaths you had, and the overall difficulty. It would be nice if the game implants some sort of competitive leaderboards to motivate players to come back and try to get a better score.
Besides the main campaign, Capsized also have several arcade modes. While these modes are not story-driven, they do act as nice distractions to the main campaign. Those modes are Bot Match (Deathmatch against computer AI), Survival (Battle endless waves of enemies), Time Trial (Oxygen containers are scattered throughout and you have to go as fast as you can without running out of oxygen), Armless (You are weaponless. All you have is your hook and gravity ram). All of these modes add a certain twist to the normal gameplay you are so familiar with.
The only feature I did not get to test out is the co-op. The whole story is playable with a buddy on the same screen if you so choose to, although it would’ve been ideal if the co-op is playable split-screen and online. The online co-op and online leaderboards would be nice and natural additions to the game, but I do understand this is still an indie game and the developers have limited resources.
This strange eerie indie game might give you doubts initially, but once you start, you will not want to stop.
All and all, this $9.99 (available on Steam) action platformer is more than it meets the eye (and it meets the eye pretty darn well). The intense, varied, and fun gameplay you will have in the single player campaign is as great as the beautiful art and immersive soundtrack of the game. However, occasional technical glitches do pull you out of the experience for a little bit. And some online features would be nice additions to the game. Overall even though the campaign is not an incredibly long and there’re some slight hiccups along the way, but man, it is one awesome adventure.