With clear inspiration from games like Braid, Trine, and Super Metroid, Capsized threatens to crush your hopes for survival.
Capsized opens up on a spaceship, where it appears the crew is doing some science analysis to a nearby planet. The ship gets clipped (by a weapon or a meteor, it isn’t very clear), so the crew hops into various escape pods and eject down towards the surface. The rest of the game is spent surviving the alien landscape, as you search for a way to find other survivors and get off the planet. What little story there is gets told by way of well-drawn comic panels, which serve almost no other purpose other than to provide an excuse for the game to exist. Honestly, that’s all we really need.
To say your destruction is imminent would be an understatement, as the alien world in Capsized is unbelievably hostile. There seems to be monstrosities around ever turn that want to rip you apart with their deadly appendages and (in the case of the humanoid natives) weapons. With an ever-increasing aggression that can cause you to panic, much of the challenge in Capsized relies on you keeping calm. Let me tell you, when you’ve got a large flying bug trying to get a grip on your neck with its talon-mouth (yes, talon-mouth), while a humanoid is throwing poison spears at you, while rocks are falling, AND while you’re trying to select the right weapon…well, things get a bit crazy. Luckily, you have a rather effective arsenal on your side.
The various weapons each serve their individual purpose based on your situation: from the humble single-shot “pistol” (with infinite ammo), to the rapid-fire “machine gun”, to the “flamethrower”, each weapon is a standard armament that’s given just a little bit of a twist. Alternate firing modes can turn a gun into a shotgun, reflect projectiles, and more. The control scheme takes a cue from first person shooters, as you move the mouse cursor around to aim while using the keyboard to navigate. It takes a little bit of time to get used to it, but once you do, you’ll wonder why there aren’t more sidescrollers that use a similar setup.
Speaking of navigation, you’ve got a number of options when it comes to making your way across the dangerous alien planet. You’re able to jump fairly high, with the ability to grip walls and push off from them (allowing you to not only wall jump, but also tactically kite enemies.) There’s also a jet pack with an ample amount of fuel that slowly recharges, and a grappling hook that can attach to literally anything. The grappling hook is one of your best tools, as you’ll be using it to not only manipulate the environment, but also to keep yourself moving. The way momentum plays into the use of the grappling hook makes it a great way to keep some distance between you and your foes, although using it skillfully will take some getting used to. Luckily, it has a long reach, which certainly lowers the learning curve, and its use in manipulating the environment in puzzle-like ways serve as “on the job training” for its use in combat.
Visually, Capsized is quite striking. The amount of detail in the alien world far surpasses what you would expect from an indie game, with movement happening all over the screen. Weird species of plants, odd natural formations, different types of rocks and minerals, animals moving around in the background…it’s truly astounding. Unfortunately, things can get a bit mixed up at times, making it difficult to tell if that plant in front of you is going to try to kill you, or simply stand by as you walk past it. The game does a decent job of granting more animation to creatures and plants that will attack you, so you learn to recognize what’s a threat and what isn’t based on how much it’s moving. Still, the line does indeed blur more than a few times.
Sound design is just as striking as the visuals. The opening cinematic plays out with a dubstep-inspired tune pounding through your speakers, upping the intensity. While I’m used to games sounding great through my Beyerdynamic DT770s, the sound work in Capsized (ESPECIALLY the opening bit) is absolutely fantastic. If you’ve got a setup that can pump out a lot of bass and offers clear separation between environmental effects, you’re going to be quite happy.
Capsized takes inspiration from many different sources, puts them all together, then adds a few unique ingredients. The storyline is bland, but the action is fast, the platforming is fun, the visuals are striking, and the sound design is intense. This one is worth more than twice the price of admission…go pick it up on Steam asap!