Having originally been announced for the Xbox 360 back in 2009, Capsized has finally made its way on to the Xbox LIVE Arcade platform, courtesy of Namco Bandai Games. Part of a new strategy that sees the publisher capitalising on the accessibility of smaller gameplay experiences via digital delivery services with the aid of indie publishers, Capsized is the second of a trilogy of releases that offers something unique that would surely struggle at retail, and yet still feels perfectly comfortable when played on a current-generation home console.
Capsized is a platform videogame in which the emphasis is most firmly on physics based puzzles. The player is given a small set of abilities and with these must navigate from the beginning of a level through to the exit point. Along the way they’ll come across dangerous terrain, impassable obstacles and all manner of enemies, and the play must combat all of these with quick thinking and nimble fingers.
Though it may not seem it at first, the most important weapon in the player’s arsenal is their gravity gun. Able to pull small objects towards you (and subsequently shoot them in the direction you are facing) or act as a grappling hook on more solid surfaces, getting used to the benefits of the gravity gun quickly is essential. The movement of your on-screen avatar is controlled with the left stick while the angle of his view is determined by the right; with not only your grappling hook, but also the carried options and your line-of-sight for weapon-based combat following suit.
The physics challenges in the videogame typically involve using the weight of an object, whether that be to push back against a blockage or other object, or to activate a switch or lever. There’s rarely anything mentally taxing as every challenge can be completed with either accuracy at the controls or a little exploration, which of course keeps the pace of the videogame pushing forward.
Each level throughout the main campaign offers you a different objective, and it’s not necessarily obvious as to what that is from the start. While most will have you reaching for the exit, as stated above, but others will see you rescuing crew mates or eliminating statues, specific groups of enemies and more. It’s a simple pattern that quickly builds from run-and-gun style gameplay into chaotic abuses of your gravity gun to manipulate both your position and the environment in order to survive. Needless to say, a degree of forethought is necessary to master even one small part of each of the levels that appear late in the campaign.
In addition to the core gameplay mode Capsized offers a serious of alternative options, labelled ‘Arcade,’ that are for some reason kept locked behind a progress wall. Players must earn a specific number of stars in the campaign (awarded for appropriating success in terms of speed, kills etc.) before being able to access these alternative gameplay options. Simple competitive gameplay modes or rearrangements of the rules, it’s a wonder why the development team felt it necessary to keep these options locked away.
The visual quality of Capsized is an odd highlight. It’s a believable 2D world teeming with alien life, but it’s also very bland. There’s rarely much in the way of visual impact to get excited about; progress is charmed by the short sequence of comic panels at the start of each level, not by the depth of the design within. A strange outcome as what is present in Capsized is perfectly balanced with the gameplay, but there’s simply not enough variety.
Despite having taken it’s time to make the jump from PC to console, Capsized arrives without much of an update. And you can feel this throughout, as the videogame does feel like the kind of experience that the Xbox LIVE Arcade capitalised on three years ago, but has since moved beyond. There’ll always be room for videogame experiences like Capsized – that is, elegantly designed alternative takes on the traditional platform template – but it’s unlikely that it will see the same level of success that it would have done back in 2010.