Capsized isn’t going to rock the boat in terms of innovation; much of what I experienced through my playthrough has been done before in other titles before it, but one cannot deny the execution and attention to detail given to this game that make it stand out in the action/exploration platforming genre. Capsized is challenging; it’s a game that won’t insult your intelligence and is designed to frustrate even the most patient of individuals. Though through every death you encounter, you’ll be lured back in for more – it’s fun, it’s addictive, but ultimately there are a few problems that prevent it from being truly great.
My first impression, aside from the awesome pre-rendered backgrounds and unique visuals, was that the game clearly drew inspiration from platformers of years past. I was a Super Metroid guy growing up, so everything from the bubble suit to the interchangeable weaponry and combat brought back fond memories of my youth, so much so that I started watching old episodes of Family Matters and Power Rangers upon completion (I didn’t really, though it’s not a bad way to spend an afternoon). The story is simple and pretty self explanatory, given the title. You and your crew have crash-landed on a hostile alien planet, whose inhabitants make it their life mission to stop you from achieving your goals, which are namely to rescue your crew and get off this stinking rock. Fairly straight-forward right?
However, the simplicity offered in its story balances out with the complexity of the game itself. The game is intricate, so much so that it can be considered a fault. The first thing you’ll notice upon taking control of our nameless hero is that the controls are a bit finicky. The aiming, in particular, takes a lot of getting used to. It resulted in me dying a lot more than I should have right off the bat, which is fine, but even as I got further into the game, I found the controls to be more of a hindrance to my experience rather than an organic challenge. I found myself not only fighting the enemies, but the controls as well, which is not ideal for a game that throws so much at you at once. When you are able to grasp the controls, the game shines in its creativity. Despite having a clear objective, there are a number of ways to complete a level, enhancing the replayability.
You are essentially out there to shoot things and complete basic objectives, so Capsized comes with no shortage of cool weapons at your disposal. You have a number of guns and gadgets to use, including grappling hooks to latch onto objects (friends and enemies included), and a jetpack. The grappling hook, specifically, is a pretty nifty tool to play around with, and is designed to accentuate the unique physics system incorporated in the game. This system, for the most part, works effectively. The environments become immersive playgrounds for you to explore, manipulate and destroy. It truly opens up levels and gives you freedom, but it’s not without its issues. On a few brief occasions, I’ve seen things I’ve needed get stuck to other objects, preventing me from completing my objectives and causing me to restart the level. That’s definitely not cool.
In addition to the story, there is also an arcade mode that allows you to play the game somewhat differently. You’re able to have an all-out deathmatch with AI-controlled enemies, where your only objective is to eliminate everyone in sight. There’s also the ability to play without guns and complete levels using only a knife, which as you can imagine, is pretty tough.
Capsized is a fun experience, even amidst all the frustration. The game does get addictive once you start figuring things out, and I’m a firm believer that the awesomely serene soundtrack accompanying every level is there to lull you into a mindset of passivity that offsets the frustration from the game and the controls. Is it perfect? Definitely not, but for 800MSP, it’s worth a shot. I hear, though I never played it, that the PC version that came out a few years back is a lot better and that the XBLA port isn’t up to par. Either way, this game deserves a shot, especially if you’re looking for a fun challenge on a budget.