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15 January 2014 @ 06:32 pm
Game Review: Capsized  
I bought this something like three years ago, played a level, thought it was kind of neat but really easy, and then put it aside until last weekend, where I played through all of it except the last two levels. Had I realized that it was that short I probably would have played it earlier, but then you wouldn't have this review.

Capsized is a side-scrolling platformer with all that entails, though its particular shtick is that there's a lot of verticality to the levels and your little space dude has a grappling beam that lets him move around a lot, as well as a jetpack that you can find fuel for. The parts of the game that aren't about murdering everything that moves with your variety of weapons are mostly about using the grappling beam to move rocks around to get to new areas or swinging yourself to higher ledges or across pits. Fortunately, there's no falling damage.

There's plenty of other damage to go around, though. While the early levels are very easy, around level six the difficulty level spikes rapidly. Initially your space dude only has to deal with alien fauna and alien tribal guys who throw spears, but then you run into swarms of bugs, or aliens with bullet-resistent shields who throw exploding green goo at you, or alien priests who can fly and hurl fireballs, or huge alien grunts that shoot lasers and teleport all over the place. How does that work? I don't know. Nanomachines, son.

The art style is really good:

It reminds me a lot of a Aquaria, with all the rich colors and half-seen terrain features in the background as well as the prominent use of flora. And anything that reminds me of Aquaria automatically gets props from me. Also, you should buy Aquaria right now.

The story is...well, you can probably learn nearly everything you need to from that picture and the fact that the game starts with a crash landing. After genociding your way through enough of the planet's population, you manage to make contact with another ship and get off the planet. The end. But like Mario or Bionic Commando, you don't play these games for the engaging story. You play them to jump on goomba heads, or whatever the local equivalent is.

The amount of flying aliens and flying monsters and flying projectiles combined with the verticality means that sometimes the screen gets really crowded with things trying to kill you, and it's quite easy to swing the wrong way while grappling somewhere, collide with an alien, and get knocked into more aliens or alien bullets or alien spears or alien fireballs or alien gas or alien squidbats. It took me quite a few tries to beat level 11 because of that. softlykarou will tell you that I'll fight the same battle in Fallout 3 or Oblivion 15-20 times until I win without complaint or even really any recognizable expression or acknowledgement of what's going on around me, but that definitely didn't happen with Capsized. I suspect the difference is that I always felt like I died because I screwed up my strategy in Oblivion, whereas with Capsized I felt like I died because of stupid random bullshit.

Admittedly, dying due to stupid random bullshit is an integral part of the side-scrolling platformer and part of becoming skilled at those games is minimizing the circumstances where you are subject to randomness, and that's eventually how I beat stage 11.

Overall, the gameplay is fun enough, but it's nothing special. There are times when I'd execute a jetpack+grapple maneuver that let me run rings around the aliens and feel like a badass, but equally there were times when the physics would go wonky and launch me at high speed in a direction I didn't want to go, leading to my hideous demise--sometimes one after the other. The weapons are pretty generic, and while there's a good balance of scarcity that requires you to switch weapons, I often just shot everyone with the basic pea-shooter to conserve ammo, and some of the weapons are so situational in the context of high-velocity grappling or jetpacking around that I barely ever used them because I found them ineffective most of the time.

So, yeah, middling marks. Fortunately, there's a demo, so you can see if you like it before you buy it. Just remember that the first level is not really a good representation of the gameplay of the entire game.
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Current Music: None