I propose that from now on all independent developers be given a free license to the Crytek engine, so I don't have to feel guilty using my desktop to play games that wouldn't even make a smart phone sweat. Or better yet all other developers should be given a crash course in game design by the indie developers, so my video card can get to work with the third dimension from time to time, something which it's supposed to be very good at according to the box. Capsized is unfortunately only a 2D action platformer with real-time physics, but if history is anything to go by indie and physics usually translate into serious gaming addiction.
The premise is pretty straightforward and the title sums it all up: you've crashed on an alien planet, and you need to find a way to escape. There is no dialogue or explanation, and the only things resembling a plot are the objectives you're given before each level. Yet all of this works well in a game like this, since the lack of communication accentuates the isolation and eerie atmosphere you'd feel if you were really stranded in an unknown place. Another World did this sort of thing best out of all the games I’ve ever payed, and the way Capsized is presented evokes a similar feeling.
"All of this throwing and flying and grabbing results in dynamic, fun, and even tactical battles…"
Besides the standard jumping and shooting that make up the basic elements of a platformer, Capsized sets itself apart with the use of a few enjoyable and well put-together features. The levels are as much vertical as they are horizontal, so the player has been given both a jet-pack and a grappling hook to help him navigate them. The former regenerates when you pick up fuel cans, and the latter is always with you helping you grab onto any surface and propel yourself towards it. By successfully using these, separately or in unison, you can do some great maneuvers and fight the aliens in a creative fashion. Obviously the hook can be also used as a weapon allowing you to either grab objects which then become lethal upon release, or even grab the enemies themselves and bring then up close and personal (try not to do that with those carrying RPGs). All of this throwing and flying and grabbing results in dynamic, fun, and even tactical battles, especially after you've gotten used to the controls and know how to use them effectively.
As any self-respecting platformer Capsized has a good selection of weapons (all with alternate fire) and power-ups scattered across the levels, as well as secret areas, achievements, and level stats which greatly increase the already high replayability of the game. On top of these there are several gameplay modes which are unlocked after you're done with the campaign, plus bot deathmatch and local split screen co-op. The only thing missing that would make the game complete is online multiplayer, but for all we know it might already be in development.
While the majority of the game is simple run-and-gun (made a little more complex thanks to the physics and the hook), there are quite a few instances where you're required to plan ahead courtesy of traps and door switches that provide for some light puzzle elements. Even the aliens you encounter require different approaches and tactics, which also depend on what weapons you're carrying and the type of terrain and obstacles you're fighting around. There are both cramped and tight levels where you push your way through tunnels and caves, and there are also wide open areas allowing you to unleash your weapons and go crazy with the hook or the jet-pack. The difficulty can be changed for each level individually, which is perfect if you find yourself frustrated, but on the flip side you receive smaller rewards and points at the end of it.
One thing that two-dimensional games do best is allowing the developers to create distinct and detailed visuals, and Capsized is no exception. The thirteen levels are all excellently drawn and are packed full of detail resulting in really crisp and vibrant environments. Along with some subtle special effects such as night time, sun rays, smoke, and debris, they really suck you into the alien world, which is a great feat considering that there is no third dimension, and the game goes for an artistic, rather than realistic, approach. While the sound effects are solid by all accounts, it was the music and ambient audio that stood out for me, something which a lot of developers forget can have an even larger impact than flashy visuals.
For ten dollars this is a no-brainer; simple as that. You don't see these types of games every day, so grab them while they're fresh. Capsized reminds me in a lot of ways to Aquaria (another must-have indie platformer), which had similar atmosphere and style, and it's a shame that games of this caliber are such a rarity nowadays. Now I’m off to run some 3DMark, so my hardware doesn't pack up and leave.