Review: Capsized

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Don’t make the mistake I did and think that Capsized is some kind of exploration-heavy metroidvania thing. The mentions of exploring and using tools to navigate might suggest that, but it’s a very different beast. What you’re getting is a floaty sci-fi platformer with a lot of shooting, a lot of physics puzzles, and a lot of frustration. And it might just be short enough to finish before you get fed up with it.

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Capsized sees you stranded on an alien world that wastes no time trying to waste you. The natives are restless and the fauna is deadly, and most levels are going to be spent depopulating the area so you can accomplish your goal. Instead of big, sprawling areas, Capsized takes place in fairly compact levels. Each of these starts you from scratch and tasking you to search high and low for weapons, jetpack fuel, extra lives, and other power-ups. I must emphasize, nothing is carried over between campaign missions, leaving each of the 12 levels feeling a bit thin.

There’s not a lot to do besides kill things, collect power-ups if you’re having trouble killing things, and finish the level. Sometimes you need to reach a certain point, sometimes you need to collect doodads, and sometimes you really do just have to kill a bunch of stuff. Navigating the levels to do that might prove difficult, as your spaceman is very floaty and easy to send careening around. He can wall jump almost effortlessly, grapple things with a grappling beam, and jetpack at will, all with mounting momentum that can easily get unmanageable.

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You’ll be shoving and grappling plenty of blocks, too, because Capsized loves physics puzzles. It feels odd calling them physics puzzles, though, because it’s usually just a tunnel blocked with junk or a pressure plate that needs to be held down. Finishing said “puzzles” is another source of frustration, since the stones and boxes use the same physics as you and can easily drift away or rocket off the screen. The worst is when you’re expected to use a block as a shield against the game’s incredibly lethal traps, watching your spaceman get perforated as the block he’s holding wobbles around lazily.

Dying is very much the low part of the game, and it comes more and more frequently the further in you get. Enemies and especially traps can do tons of damage, and as they become more dense in the later levels it gets that much harder to avoid big chunks of hurt. When you die you either respawn at the last 1-up you collected OR the start of the level, which is infuriating in the more maze-like levels. Several of your best guns also do splash damage to you, and there are plenty of little critters that love to run up and attach to your face to catch mortars for you.

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The art is fantastically detailed, but becomes a bit too busy for a game like this. Sound design is nice and somber but the effects in battle, both audio and visual, are sorely lacking. There’s so little impact to weapons you’ll never really know how much damage is being done until your enemy (or you) is dead. A few co-op and arcade modes round out the game but the fact is that you’re getting a 12-mission campaign that can be beaten in two hours, provided it doesn’t make you rage. And whether it be the giant boulder that just will not get out of your way, or the jetpack sniper that runs you out of lives, something will most likely make you jump ship early.

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