• Publisher: Namco Bandi / Indiepub Games
  • Developer: Alien Trap
  • Platform(s): XBLA, PSN & PC
  • Release Date: July 5th 2013
  • Genre: Action
  • Website: Visit Website
  1. Audio 7.0
  2. Graphics 8.0
  3. Story 6.0
  4. Gameplay 9.0
7.0 Overall Score
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Capsized: Review

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Independent game developers Alien Trap, the group behind Nexuiz and the upcoming Apotheon, have just released a new two dimensional side scrolling shooter for PC, PlayStation Network, and the Xbox Live Arcade titled Capsized. This cartoonish offering pits you, a marooned human on an alien planet, against hordes of extra terrestrian beings. Published by legendary company Namco Bandai, this modestly priced title has made some small waves through the internet, and among gamers in general. Is this little space odyssey actually worth grabbing, or is it something not even worth saving?

Capsized

Audio:

Capsized‘s soundtrack is largely just one long piece of Synth or Electronic driven music. It works to captivate the sense of being on an alien planet, but isn’t the most moving piece you will find in a game today. The sound effects are limited as well, and don’t usually stand out to really impress the gamer. A little more work would have come through a lot better, especially when the audio ends up lacking atmosphere that even the NES game version of Predator was able to capture way back when.

Graphics/Visuals:

But, one thing that stands out for this title is the hand drawn comic book style graphics. Much of the visuals do pop out a bit thanks to it, and does mesh well with the somewhat serious tone of the game. For the most part, Capsized is based on exploration of alien territory with random insects attacking you, gradually building to stronger alien beings akin to head hunters by Earth standards. The character designs all look nice and rather sharp against the pleasing, somewhat familiar forest and cavern influenced terrain of the land. There’s never really a lot of inagination to the settings, but in the end you can’t really argue with the detail presented in them, especially considering that the main character, and many others, come off more like sprites to an early generation game, which suits the overall retro look and feel of the title.

Story/Writing:

And with that early gaming look and feel comes a simple story that would harken back to the sixteen to thirty-two bit era as well. The concept is simple: You’re marooned on an alien land and seperated from your crew. You need to find any survivors and try to get off the planet while fighting to survive the flora and fauna of the terrain. Also in your way are a race of humanoid-like insect beings that are hunting you down. The levels themselves are relatively short, and for the most part just have you reach the end of the stage to progress to the next. Sometimes the story will have you meet certain requirements, such as killing high-powered insect beings or destroying x-amount of statues in order to advance. These little changes in plot do help spice things up a bit to help you push towards the ultimate goal of reaching the final stage.

Capsized

Gameplay:

While Capsized does push the exploration aspect, this is a game largely based on speed and technicality. While it may seem like just getting from point a to point b, you are awarded stars for various reasons. There are secret rooms to discover on each stage, which counts towards the overall rating you earn, as does the time in which you complete the stage, the difficulty, and amount of times you die, if any. This is not that simple a game, especially the further in you get, but you are offered your choice of Easy, Medium, or Hard difficulty to tackle each stage with. The more you play a stage the easier it will become. This does work for the achievements as well, as many are based on the amount of stars and other various things like that, but a few will test your skill, such as never firing your gun in five stages, which is harder than it seems. This does help the lifespan of the game, as well as the additional Arcade style games you unlock by earning x-amount of stars (fifty total), but overall, this seems more like a game built around time trial and repetition, so get ready to pour plenty of time into the short campaign to earn all the stars if you care that much.

As far as the gameplay is concerned, this is a pretty easy game to wrap your hands around. The controls are minimal, and half the time not even used to progess. The response time is fine with movements, firing your gun, even just using your jetpack or flashlight. The right analog stick aims your weapon or grappling hook, which you line up by a little light blue reticle not too far away from your character. You can also crush certain creatures by jumping on them like in Super Mario Bros., but sometimes you’ll be hit instead, and given the speed some of the smaller enemies move at, you’re better off using your grappling hook or using a gun if you have any ammo left. Thankfully the response time is so fluid, as it is necessary to take out the random hordes of enemies that can swarm you if you’re not paying attention to what you’re doing. You my walk right into some that blend in with the scenary, or you can step on a large plant that actually is some kind of egg full of spider-like creatures, killing you quickly even when the game is set to Easy difficulty.

Conclusion:

Admittedly, Capsized does seem to be a bit confused as to what it wants to be. It’s hard to tell if the game is trying to be more like a b-rated Science Fiction flick told in a nineties-era comic book format, or a serious, sometimes surprisingly bloody retro title. It also seems to blend in various gaming ideas into one title, such as time trial instead of focusing on what little story is there, or the point of finding your crewmates, a task that seems more a secondary objective or bonus task to the campaign. However, what it lacks, and honestly can really use, is a multiplayer option. Imagine the madness that an addition companion would cause, including making the shifts in difficulty far greater. But, that omission noted, when you break everything down, the game handles great with plenty of varying shifts in difficulty despite which one you choose, and solid graphics that show a good deal of detail. Capsized also makes for a great game you can just throw on quickly if you’re short on time since the stages often aren’t that long. If you have some time to spare, grab the demo on any platform and give it a spin. If you like chaotic platforming Action titles, this one may just grab your attention.