Man Overboard

Here’s another Humble Indie Bundle 8 review! One of the many games included in the bundle is called Capsized, a side-scrolling platformer/shooter. The story, as it were, is told through comic-book style panels; no text (save the level titles and goals), no voice-over, just rather well-illustrated images. The illustration style carries over to the game itself, which is lushly detailed and truly a work of art.

Capsized Gameplay
Capsized Gameplay – Click for full resolution

But before I get into that, I should tell you the premise of the game. You play as an astronaut shipwrecked on an alien planet, which, as you learn very quickly, is host to a large number of hostile Lovecraftian creatures. Using your gun, grapple, jetpack (once fueled), flashlight, and gravity shove, plus any other weapons you find, you’re tasked with traversing and exploring this dangerous new land.

The gameplay is similar to what you’d find in Metroid, although the levels are fairly linear (and there are levels, whereas Metroid is generally just one big sprawling map), and, what seems most uncomfortable to me, aiming is done with the mouse. As a gamer who’s used to aiming with directional buttons (as far as sidescrollers are concerned), this feels rather unnatural. And it’s not the first time I’ve played a game with a control scheme like this; but it always feels awkward trying to aim separately from the direction I’m moving in.

The Metroid influence seems to extend beyond the gameplay and aesthetic and into the soundtrack. I could be wrong, but I definitely felt a distinct influence of the Metroid soundtracks on the Capsized soundtrack. Regardless, the music works quite nicely with the game. However, the graphics are where this game really shines. Not knowing anything about the production of the game I can’t say for sure, but I’d be willing to guess that the backgrounds of the levels are hand-drawn like in so many of the classic platformers Capsized no doubt draws inspiration from. The rest of the game is a shining example of just how visually impressive 2D games can be. There are times when it is difficult to tell what objects you can interact with and what objects are just scenery; everything meshes quite beautifully.

I was mildly surprised to see blood effects upon taking damage, something usually seen only in games like Castlevania. The effect is incorporated quite well, however; as you take more damage, blood starts to stick to the screen, and death is a bit messy, but tastefully so, if that makes any sense. In addition, as you take more damage, even if you grab a health pickup, you’ll notice spider-webbed cracks all around the screen, as if you were wearing a helmet like the protagonist’s and it were getting damaged. It’s a simple effect, but it’s a fantastic touch.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend Capsized to fans of Metroid-vania style games, and even platforming fans in general. Just be warned that you may have trouble getting used to the controls, and, more importantly, you may find yourself so captivated by the graphics and music that you don’t notice you’re getting killed until it’s too late.

 

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